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Hawking Says Trump Could Tip Earth To Hot Venus Climate - Is It True? What Can Earth's Climate Tip To?

Stephen Hawking celebrated his seventy fifth birthday on the 2nd July. We can all be delighted...

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Robert WalkerRSS Feed of this column.

I'm Robert Walker, inventor & programmer. I have had a long term special interest in astronomy, and space science since the 1970s, and most of these blog posts currently are about Mars and space... Read More »

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Ethan Siegel has just written an article, "The Science Has Spoken: Pluto Will Never Be A Planet Again", so this is a response to it. I'll argue that far from "story over", actually we could make a discovery tomorrow that would turn the whole thing on its head and make their definition untenable.  This will become particularly acute if we ever find a gas giant in the outer reaches of our solar system, too far away to clear its orbit. And we could find such a planet.

I have written this for young children and others scared the world is about to blow up. If you read the news announcements today, you can understand why they seem to say this. Take them literally and that is exactly what they say. 

Summary: They have just set the "clock" to two and a half minutes, it does not mean that the world is about to blow up into dust in two and a half minutes. It’s like when a friend says “I could eat a horse”. They couldn’t eat a horse. They also don’t want to eat a horse. But they aren’t lying when they say that. They are just using vivid imagery.

As some of you may know, I've become deeply concerned, and indeed appalled by the large numbers of fake doomsday news stories, because I am so often contacted by people who get very scared and sometimes suicidal as a result of reading these stories. Fourteen tabloids and other papers have published this story so far, and none of them mention that it originates from a site known to publish fake news. The story is that the world is going to end because of two snowy days in Salento in Southern Italy, which they say is a prophetic sign of an imminent massive supervolcano eruption. I think it is a particularly striking case of doomsday news based on chinese whispers starting off from a fake story.

Nibiru easily ranks as the pseudoscience doomsday scenario I get most questions about. Many people, including teenagers, are terrified that we are all about to be killed by a planet called Nibiru which they think is going to hit Earth or do a close flyby in the very near future, for instance many of them have come to believe that it is going to hit us some time before Christmas, or shortly afterwards.

We've had fake news world ending prophecies for centuries. But now we have exaggerated scientific scenarios to add to the list, so that we can get scared by asteroid impacts, nuclear war, runaway warming and so on. These are mixed with pseudoscience, and hoaxes, to the extent that it's often hard to figure out what is fake doomsday news, what is exaggerated, and what is the sober truth. It's easy to get a feeling of a doomsday helplessness. Yet we are far from helpless. These fake scenarios distract us from many real issues that we can do something about. Some vulnerable people, including teenagers, get so terrified by this fake doomsday news that they become suicidal. I've written many doomsday debunking articles, and have now published a new kindle book Doomsday Debunked.

This is something you hear said so often - that we risk being hit by an asteroid that could make humans extinct. But do we really? This is the article I’m commenting on, a recently breaking news story: Earth woefully unprepared for surprise comet or asteroid, Nasa scientist warns. Some are already worrying that it means that we are all due to die in the near future from an asteroid impact. Well, no, it doesn't mean that. So, what is the truth behind it? 

The source of all this is a comment by Dr Joseph Nuth who warns: