Whilst none of the above headlines saw the light of print because they would have been ridiculed for being too sensationalistic, they would in reality be no less alarmist than the presentation of some of the other news topics.
The media usually fails to highlight this natural phenomenon, quite rightly pointing out that we have enough on our plates without adding additional concerns about terror from space. And yet, the facts are as real, and the chances no slimmer, than some of the news that bombards us daily.
Instead, headlines about (in some cases) longer odds of "personal danger" capture prime news slots: bird flu, dirty-bomb threats, AIDS, cancer caused by second-hand smoke, eating too many burgers, the risks of not wearing seatbelts, drinking unboiled water, excessive anything.
You name it, we have covered and analysed how these things can kill us, and yet mention of having one's city wiped out in a split second by a giant meteorite is immediately fobbed off as "slim, an outside chance, and improbable."
Why Are Asteroids Such Low-Key News Items?
We do it in spades when it comes to earthbound threats. The news is full of scary topics, most of which have even slimmer chances of harming the average individual.
It's not just the media; it's the authorities who keep this threat on a back burner, or prioritise other threats, for instance ...
If an intelligence agency had a tip of a nuclear terrorist attack, down to the actual date and time two years hence (and it were known that there might be others), one doubts whether it would face budget restrictions in hunting for them.
If seismologists could give Los Angles an exact date of a catastrophic earthquake, how many billions would be spent on research/preventive measures?
The list of examples and similarities could go on, but the point has been made: we differentiate between matters above and below the ozone layer. Perhaps it's time we didn't.
The fact that an object as large as 800 meters and as close as two years away, with the potential to change the world as we know it, was only found in May 2006 also didn't seem to attract any attention.
Obviously we are still a long way from even knowing where all the big asteroids are, not to mention smaller ones less than 100 meters wide, which "only" carry the devastating powers of multi-mega-nuclear proportions. Clearly our "early-warning system" is far from adequate.