Luckily, many of these plans never come to fruition, but that doesn't mean the government, and related organizations, haven't prepared for situations that you're much more likely to see in Hollywood than in reality.
With the space race in full swing, there was certainly a lot riding on the success of the Apollo 11 mission. However, it seems that the Nixon administration were prepared for a Gravity-esque situation in which Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were left stranded on the moon.
Well, perhaps 'prepared' isn't the right word. They didn't have a rescue plan - that was impossible - but they did have a fairly poetic public statement which lamented the loss of the heroes. You can read it below:
If movies have taught us anything, it's that first contact with aliens probably isn't going to go smoothly. With this in mind, you'd think the government would prepare a plan on how to deal with extra-terrestrial visitors.
If they have, they're certainly keeping it under wraps, as nothing has officially been announced. However, NASA and the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence Agency (SETI) have compiled reports about how to welcome space voyagers.
- Any state or individual intercepting signals believed to be extra-terrestrial must submit them to SETI and other research organizations for confirmation.
- The signal origin must be kept secret to prevent others from attempting unilateral communication.
- Once confirmed, the United Nations and International Astronomical Union should be informed. No individual entity or state should attempt communication.
- A press conference should be held in which those who discovered the signal have the privilege of making the announcement.
- The world should then come to an agreement if and how to respond via 'appropriate international consultations.' Binary code is often accepted as the most pertinent way to respond and should be sent on behalf of all humankind. The message should reflect "careful concern for the broad interests and well-being of Humanity."
Yep, that's right. It's not just Rick Grimes and his pals which are concerned with the walking dead. It seems the US Government is, too... kind of...
Earlier this year, ForeignPolicy.com uncovered an unclassified document titled CONOP 8888, which is better known as "Counter-Zombie Dominance." As you can probably guess, the document was an operational plan for dealing with the undead. It even classes the different types of zombies which can be expected, including, pathogenic zombies, radiation zombies, evil magic zombies, space zombies, weaponized zombies, symbiant-induced zombies, vegetarian zombies and, strangely, chicken zombies.
"This plan fulfills fictional contingency planning guidance tasking for U.S. Strategic Command to develop a comprehensive [plan] to undertake military operations to preserve 'non-zombie' humans from the threats posed by a zombie horde. Because zombies pose a threat to all non-zombie human life, [Strategic Command] will be prepared to preserve the sanctity of human life and conduct operations in support of any human population -- including traditional adversaries."
Among many other things, the report concerns how to protect and maintain local governance, conduct an adequate humanitarian response and ultimately battle the undead. Broadly, the plan falls into several stages: "Shape," "Deter," "Seize Initiative," "Dominate," "Stabilize," "Restore Civil Authority," which includes "prepar[ing] to redeploy the forces to attack surviving zombie holdouts."
Now, many of the above scenarios are fairly unlikely, but this next one is an apocalyptic event which is actually statistically certain to happen... In fact it already sort of has.
In February last year, a meteor exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia with the force of 30 atomic bombs. Luckily, it was high enough in the atmosphere to cause only moderate damage on the ground, however it highlighted a major issue - no one saw it coming.
The group made recommendations consisting of three distinct phases.
1. Get Prepared. The IAWG called for the creation of an agency explicitly tasked with dealing with collision-course asteroids. They stated:
No government in the world today has explicitly assigned the responsibility for planetary protection to any of its agencies. NASA does not have an explicit responsibility to deflect an asteroid, nor does any other space agency.
2. Locate the asteroids. Stopping asteroids is only viable if we know they're actually coming. Indeed, experts suggest they might need to spot an asteroid a decade before it hits Earth to have any chance of stopping it. This is something NASA has been doing since 2005, although earlier this year they announced they had so far only spotted 10 percent of the Earth-shattering-sized asteroids out there. In the words of my old gym teacher, "that's not good enough"!
At no point in the plan do we need to consult a gang of tough, rough oil drilling experts or consult Michael Bay.
So do these plans, or lack thereof, make you feel more or less safe? Let us know below.