File this under, “Why some climate change believers should be ignored.” Seems we have more to worry about than global warming’s destructive effect on the environment. All that CO2 in the atmosphere may just be making Somebody mad, according to the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper:
It may not rank as the most compelling reason to curb greenhouse gases, but reducing our emissions might just save humanity from a pre-emptive alien attack, scientists claim.
Watching from afar, extraterrestrial beings might view changes in Earth’s atmosphere as symptomatic of a civilisation growing out of control – and take drastic action to keep us from becoming a more serious threat, the researchers explain.
This highly speculative scenario is one of several described by a NASA-affiliated scientist and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University that, while considered unlikely, they say could play out were humans and alien life to make contact at some point in the future.
Shawn Domagal-Goldman of NASA’s Planetary Science Division and his colleagues compiled a list of plausible outcomes that could unfold in the aftermath of a close encounter, to help humanity “prepare for actual contact”.
Keep in mind that most (could we say a “consensus”?) of scientists who have expressed themselves on this subject have said that a visit from extra-terrestrial life is virtually impossible, given the distances involved and the unbreakability of the light speed barrier. That being the case, even having NASA employees taking time and taxpayer support to game out an alien encounter is a pretty far-fetched use of scarce resources. But what might happen if such a thing were to transpire? The authors imagine a variety of appealing scenarios, and then deliver the bad news:
The authors warn that extraterrestrials may be wary of civilisations that expand very rapidly, as these may be prone to destroy other life as they grow, just as humans have pushed species to extinction on Earth. In the most extreme scenario, aliens might choose to destroy humanity to protect other civilisations.
“A preemptive strike 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. 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 the Earth’s atmosphere, via greenhouse gas emissions,” the report states.
“Green” aliens might object to the environmental damage humans have caused on Earth and wipe us out to save the planet. “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 authors write.
Presumably any ETI capable of reaching Earth would also have a science advanced enough to know that there are many possible explanations for changes in atmospheric composition other than “civilizational expansion.” As far as it goes, as Allahpundit pointed out at Hot Air, wouldn’t it be far more likely that any aliens would object more to our having and testing nuclear weapons? Nuclear explosions on a rocky planet are not naturally explainable, far more likely to be signs of “civilizational expansion,” and far more dangerous to any visitors.
But to say all of that is to give this report far more credence than it deserves. What it really comes across as is an exceptionally silly attempt to justify climate change hysteria. That only means that it will be showing up at the National Council of Churches web site within the week.
Of course, if aliens don’t come, and the planet becomes too polluted, we can always go back and start again:
(Via Hot Air.)
UPDATE: Turns out that Shawn Domagal-Goldman wasn’t working for NASA when this was written, and it has nothing to do with the space agency. It was just three friends (one of whom is working on his Ph.D, one of whom just got it, and one of whom–Shawn–is, in his words, “just a lonely postdoc”–engaged in idle speculation. Still, it makes one wonder about the future of actual science. And it will still be used by the NCC.
(Update via Five Feet of Fury.)