A massive asteroid hurdles towards Earth. The total destruction of our planet is assured. Is there any hope of escape? The ins and outs of this hypothetical doomsday scenario are explored in Evacuating Earth, an entertaining speculative documentary from futurist and science enthusiast Isaac Arthur.
The nightmare of global annihilation is not without precedent. It last occurred 66 million years ago when a catastrophic asteroid strike led to the destruction of 80% of all life on Earth, and likely led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
If such a scenario were to occur again - whether it be from a direct asteroid blast, supernova or alien invasion - would we have enough time to implement a means of evacuation? Riffing off a number of variables, Arthur outlines a wealth of possibilities from underground bunkers to systematized lottery systems to an ambitious scheme resembling the story of Noah's Ark.
Maybe we'd be given enough time to erect a shield that could hover above our orbit, and deflect an oncoming asteroid before it strikes. Or perhaps those in power would choose to avoid sharing the news of impending doom altogether; after all, this announcement may likely set off a cancer of panic that would bring about uncontrollable chaos around the world.
Arthur postulates on the nature of our survival with great authority, humor and aplomb. For example, if we were limited in the number of people we could shuttle off to another planet, what criteria would we employ to determine who survives and who stays behind to endure a fiery death? If the evacuation of large groups of people proves too cumbersome and futile, perhaps we could ensure the preservation of our species by storing strands of human DNA on the Moon. Of course, the planet we know and love is populated by more than just our fellow Homo sapiens; we must also consider a means of survival for each member of the animal kingdom and our countless forms of vegetation.
Enhanced by a series of impressive animations and Arthur's own ebullient narration, Evacuating Earth is a surprising, fun and fascinating examination of a truly terrifying concept.