Did you see the footage of the meteorite that came to earth in Russia last week?

That was some rock! Let’s take a look at some of the statistics as reported on the BBC website:-

  • Estimated cost of damage is 1bn roubles ($33m).
  • Estimated 200,000sq m of windows were broken.
  • The weight of the meteor before it entered the atmosphere was estimated at 10 tonnes by the Russian scientists and 10000 tonnes by the American scientists (huh?).
  • The meteor was estimated to be 17m wide before entering the atmosphere.
  • The speed was calculated at 19 miles per second.

I was on a plane last week which by comparison weighed around 64 tonnes, was 34 metres wide and was travelling at 0.13 miles per second. Some of the data above is estimated and clearly the scientists don’t agree on how much the meteor weighed, but whatever, this was a big object flying around at 150 times the speed of a passenger jet!

The reaction of most people to the footage was along the lines of ‘Wow! That’s interesting. It smashed a load of windows and injured around 1000 people before landing in a frozen lake somewhere in Russia….’

The landing point was less than 3000 miles from London and around 1000 miles from Moscow. Now remember, during the weekend scientists were explaining about another object passing earth at around 17,000 miles away and describing it as a ‘near miss’ in space terms. You get my point – if 17000 miles is a near miss, what of 3000 or 1000?

Clearly the outcome could have been way more sinister had the meteorite landed in a densely populated area! The scenarios could have been very, very different. We got lucky!

No one knew for certain where the meteorite was heading, where it would land, how big it was, when it would arrive, the impact it would have and so on.  Another article highlighted how little warning scientists are able to give us of these events and how little we can actually do to prevent and reduce the impact. Scary stuff.

I’m not looking to be alarmist or to jump on this as the next big threat but this incident does illustrate a number of points.

  • Low likelihood/high impact events do occur from time to time.
  • Incidents can occur with little or no warning.
  • Sometimes there’s not much one can do to minimise the impact or likelihood.
  • When an incident occurs one may have to work with incomplete, inconsistent or inaccurate information.
  • Sometimes luck plays a part in determining the impact.

Is this incident going to change what we do? I think not. For sure it was an interesting and frightening incident but to date thankfully a rare occurrence. Nevertheless we can still capture the relevant learnings, or reminders, and apply them in developing our plans.

I can’t predict or prevent a meteorite strike, sorry, but if you need down to earth, practical help with your Business Continuity activities you should give me a call.

February 18, 2013 at 4:14 pm
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Category: Planning, Uncategorized
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