No, I’m not kidding. Penn State researchers have published a paper speculating what might happen upon first encounter with intelligent extraterrestrials.
Citation: Seth D. Baum, Jacob D. Haqq-Misra, & Shawn D. Domagal-Goldman, Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis, Acta Astronautica, 2011, 68(11-12): 2114-2129.
The scenarios will be familiar to science fiction fans, but it is strange to see such speculative fiction presented as research in a scientific journal.
The Penn State scientists say that greenhouse gas emissions indicate that our civilization is rapidly advancing and extraterrestrials might notice, become alarmed, and attempt to destroy us.
Apparently the extraterrestrials have not yet noticed or are not alarmed by all the radio and television signals we have been broadcasting into space.
Some excerpts from the paper:
ETI [extraterrestrial intelligence] that place intrinsic value on civilizations may ideally wish that our civilization changes its ways, so we can survive along with all the other civilizations. But if ETI doubt that our course can be changed, then they may seek to preemptively destroy our civilization in order to protect other civilizations from us. A preemptive strike would be particularly likely in the early phases of our expansion because a civilization may become increasingly difficult to destroy as it continues to expand. Humanity may just now be entering the period in which its rapid civilizational expansion could be detected by an ETI because our expansion is changing the composition of Earth’s atmosphere (e.g. via greenhouse gas emissions), which therefore changes the spectral signature of Earth.
Another recommendation is that humanity should avoid giving off the appearance of being a rapidly expansive civilization. If an ETI perceives humanity as such, then it may be inclined to attempt a preemptive strike against us so as to prevent us from growing into a threat to the ETI or others in the galaxy. Similarly, ecosystem-valuing universalist ETI may observe humanity’s ecological destructive tendencies and wipe humanity out in order to preserve the Earth system as a whole. 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. We acknowledge that the pursuit of emissions reductions and other ecological projects may have much stronger justifications than those that derive from ETI encounter, but that does not render ETI encounter scenarios insignificant or irrelevant.
You can read the whole paper here.
So, it will be greenhouse gases rather than the nightly news that will alarm the aliens. Doesn’t Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann work at Penn State? It seems there is no limit to the contrived, scary scenarios global warming alarmists will proffer. Earlier this week I wrote an article titled “Girthic Warming” in which I said the subject research took the prize for stupid associations. That was before I saw the Penn State paper.