By Victoria Foyt
When a meteor exploded over Western Siberia in February 2013, like a shot across our bow, didn’t you wonder how on earth you would ever survive an apocalypse? I did. And as I began to contemplate the recent astronomical event and the certain disaster that a collision would have brought, my spirits sank.
The truth is, we are woefully unprepared as individuals and as a society to survive whole scale destruction. I am but a frail woman, unable to live off the land, let along survive for very long without my two favorite modern conveniences, my microwave and iPhone.
The word “apocalypse” has become so familiar, even cozy, in the last several years through the success of young adult books such as the Hunger Games series and my Save The Pearls trilogy, which occurs in a post-apocalyptic world, where humans’ ability to survive the intense solar radiation determines their worth. In Part One, Revealing Eden, the protagonist Eden Newman faces death unless she can overcome the stigma of her pale skin and find a mate.
Needless to say, I have spent a fair amount of time “living” in a burned out Earth while writing the Save the Pearls series. And yet, the sudden and unexpected Chelyabinsk meteor reminded me how life can change in a blink. Have you ever started the day with a perfectly good feeling, only to have a car accident later or a sudden illness or break a bone? Yeah, that kind of rapid change, but magnified to the power of Google.
This meteor was reported to be as strong as 20 Hiroshima bombs. And despite hundreds of injuries and millions of dollars of property loss, Earth survived largely unscathed, due to one very lucky fact: this was a chondritic meteor. If that term has not survived your high school vocabulary list, it’s the kind of meteor that breaks into pieces upon heating up when entering Earth’s atmosphere.
If it had been an iron or metallic meteor, it would not have exploded; it would have hit the Earth’s surface, perhaps killing thousands of people and creating havoc for the rest of the world. In that case, February 15, 2013 would have been one major BLINK.
The director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, Neil deGrasse Tyson, says another meteor is coming in 12 years: Apophis, named for the Egyptian god of death and destruction. It will fly uncomfortably close to Earth in 2029, again in 2036 and yet again in 2068.
When I read this news, I immediately calculated what age I will be when Apophis next looms in our astral neighborhood: old enough to hopefully have accomplished many of my dreams, but young enough to have many good years ahead. And what of my children’s future and my unborn grandchildren? It’s too sad to contemplate.
I like to imagine that I could learn to forage for tubers or wield my bow and arrow like Katniss in The Hunger Games. Or like Eden Newman, I wonder what I would do if I had the chance to physically adapt with animal traits in order to survive. Of course, my musings take place in the comfort of my home, not in a toxic land.
But then, perhaps by reading such apocalyptic novels we are mentally preparing ourselves for what lies ahead. Because really, how long can Earth’s luck hold out? After all, look what happened to the dinosaurs.