Here is an extended quote from the Preface of a new publication you may find interesting. I thought it was fascinating:
In 1995, the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Committee on Space Debris wrote,
The threat that orbital debris poses to international space activities is presently not large, but it may be on the verge of becoming significant. If and when it does, the consequences could be very costly–and extremely difficult to reverse. By contrast, the cost of reducing the growth of the hazard can be relatively low….The committee believes that spacefaring nations should take judicious, timely steps now to understand the risk and agree on ways to reduce it.
At that time, no destructive collisions between active spacecraft and debris or meteoroids2 had been recorded. In addition, the amount of debris in orbit did not include the aftermath of the 2009 Iridium-Cosmos collision and the 2007 on-orbit destruction by the Chinese of a weather satellite as part of an anti-satellite test. Both of those events greatly increased the amount of debris in the near-Earth space environment, thus pushing the threat posed by orbital debris even further toward what was described more than 15 years ago as “on the verge of becoming significant.”