Quick! Everyone put on your tin-foil hats because we are going to talk about aliens. That’s right– Aliens. Humanity may have a big problem with extraterrestrials in the future if we don’t cut our carbon emissions, according a report released by students claims.
The report entitled “Would contact with extraterrestrials benefit or harm humanity? A scenario analysis” covers the many possibilities of contact with aliens or scientifically speaking, extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI). And it is becoming apparent that ET might not be as friendly as the movie once led us to believe.
Student researchers from Pennsylvania State University along with a post-doc student working at NASA, Seth D. Baum, Jacob D. Haqq-Misra, and Shawn D. Domagal-Goldman, have compiled a list of hypothetical situations should humanity come into contact with ETI’s. The report covers situations that could be beneficial, neutral or harmful to humanity.
The report claims, “In these scenarios, humanity benefits not only from the major moral victory of having defeated a daunting rival, but also from the opportunity to reverse-engineer extraterrestrial intelligent (ETI) technology.”
As a best case scenario, humans on Earth will find a way to communicate with aliens in order to trade information and overcome such hardships as poverty, hunger, and disease. In the worst case scenario, aliens will attempt to destroy the Earth with what Daily Mail calls, “Indepence Day-style attacks, accidental destruction of our planet or diseases wiping out the entire population.”
Student researchers on the analysis mention that, “a pre-emptive strike (by aliens) would be particularly likely in the early phases of our expansion because a civilisation may become increasingly difficult to destroy as it continues to expand.”
One of the major threats we Earthlings are causing ourselves is through carbon emissions. Researchers say, “Humanity may just now be entering the period in which its rapid civilisational expansion could be detected by an ETI because our expansion is changing the composition of Earth’s atmosphere, via greenhouse gas emissions… These scenarios give us reason to limit our growth and reduce our impact on global ecosystems. It would be particularly important for us to limit our emissions of greenhouse gases, since atmospheric composition can be observed from other planets.”
The idea purveyed is not far fetched as changes in the Earth’s temperature can be seen from long distances in space. Humanity’s rapid growth, carbon emissions, and planet pollution could be percieved as a threat by other life forms making the analysis’ worst case scenario more likely if contact with aliens ever comes to pass. One of the steps that Earthlings can do to protect themselves from an alien vs. human scenario is to cut carbon emissions to help get the target off our back.
Note on this article:
Originally, this article was written to state that NASA and PSU did the study in a joint effort. It has come to the attention of the author and editor of this piece that student researcher Domagal-Goldman has written a blog post stating that the report was, “not work funded by NASA, nor is it work supported by NASA in other ways. It was just a fun paper written by a few friends, one of whom happens to have a NASA affiliation.” Domagal-Goldman says he stands by the analysis in the report, although he thinks the scenarios are unlikely. His full blog post and apology to media, the public and the employees of NASA can be found here.