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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Survival Imperative

The Survival Imperative

Using Space to Protect Earth

William E. Burrows

Forge Books

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Using Space to Save Earth

Veteran science journalist William E Burrows offers a bold new mission for the U.S. space program: to protect the Earth from the ever-growing number of perils that threaten our way of life – and even our very survival.

We are living through one of the most dangerous times in human history. Nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons technology are proliferating, and missile technology is falling into more and more hands. Extreme natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, fires, and earthquakes, are becoming increasingly costly – not only in dollars, but in lives – as population expands. Environmental crises threaten to provoke massive famines and widespread social collapse. Asteroids the size of battleships streak within striking distance of the earth every year.

One strategy offers the best hope of protecting us from all of these dangers – a revitalized national space program that coordinates efforts in global defense, in environmental protection, in communications, and in military security. The Survival Imperative offers an impassioned argument for this bold initiative.

To demonstrate the urgency of his cause, Burrows presents a vivid scenario: an impact by a moderately large asteroid that triggers a series of nuclear exchanges, environmental devastation, and the slow disintegration of civilization. And he examines the existing space program from the heady days of the Moon landing through the political compromises that have characterized the history of… More…

Using Space to Save Earth

Veteran science journalist William E Burrows offers a bold new mission for the U.S. space program: to protect the Earth from the ever-growing number of perils that threaten our way of life – and even our very survival.

We are living through one of the most dangerous times in human history. Nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons technology are proliferating, and missile technology is falling into more and more hands. Extreme natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, fires, and earthquakes, are becoming increasingly costly – not only in dollars, but in lives – as population expands. Environmental crises threaten to provoke massive famines and widespread social collapse. Asteroids the size of battleships streak within striking distance of the earth every year.

One strategy offers the best hope of protecting us from all of these dangers – a revitalized national space program that coordinates efforts in global defense, in environmental protection, in communications, and in military security. The Survival Imperative offers an impassioned argument for this bold initiative.

To demonstrate the urgency of his cause, Burrows presents a vivid scenario: an impact by a moderately large asteroid that triggers a series of nuclear exchanges, environmental devastation, and the slow disintegration of civilization. And he examines the existing space program from the heady days of the Moon landing through the political compromises that have characterized the history of NASA in the 35 years following our retreat from the Moon.

Most of all, Burrows warns that the primary obstacle to achieving a true planetary defense program is not financial or scientific, but social–an unwillingness to acknowledge the urgency of the crisis, and to take the political risks needed to address it. The question, says Burrows, is not whether we can do it, but whether we will act before it's too late.


At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

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Chapter One

Hell on Earth

It came out of the Oort Cloud almost 2 million years ago, and by the time it sped past Earth, its velocity was twenty-six miles a second. Then the Sun's gravity took hold and its speed increased to nearly...

Praise for The Survival Imperative

“Burrows’s richly documented book tells the story of how simple earthlings—fallible creatures living under imperfect political systems—transcended foibles, corruption, depravity and flawed machines to discover other worlds and, what is more important, their own. For the space enthusiast, Burrows offers a complete, authoritative history of the technology that allowed us to explore space and the people who created and managed that technology.” —Publishers Weekly on This New Ocean

“‘When the history of this century is written,' Burrows says, ‘the story of mankind's first breaking gravity's relentless hold and touching places beyond Earth will be one of its most exciting and important chapters.' Burrows tells the story engagingly.... all the milestones of the first space age appear in the rich tapestry Burrows has woven.” —Scientific American on This New Ocean

“The most successful general survey of space history yet to appear.” —The New York Times on This New Ocean

“William Burrows has written the missing book on space-based intelligence systems.” —McGeorge Bundy on Deep Black

Deep Black is not only first-rate science writing, but a fine exposition of the links between the advanced technology and politics of arms control that may ultimately save us from Armageddon.” —San Francisco Chronicle

William E. Burrows

William E. Burrows is a professor of journalism at New York University and the founder and director of its graduate Science and Environmental Reporting Program. He has reported for publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, and Smithsonian Air & Space. He is the author of seven books on aviation, space, and defense, including This New Ocean and Deep Black, the award-winning classic work on spying from space.

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Copyright Joelle Burrows

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