We need to be ready in case we ever meet ET
You may have noticed, space has been getting a lot of attention in the news these days. The Chinese have landed a rover on the far side of the moon, a weird unidentifiable sliver of something or other moved on an unpredictable path through our solar system — and, most interestingly to me, scientists recently picked up repeating radio signals from somewhere in deep space.
Ron Rollins, who edits these pages, noted the latter in his daily “Today’s Moderator” column not too long ago, citing a Newsweek story that got me thinking: How will we react if it turns out we are not alone in the universe?
There have been warnings by the late Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku, who say the consequences for humanity meeting a more advanced culture will likely be disastrous. Historically, the less-advanced culture has always lost — and that would be us.
Both Hawking and Kaku urge us to avoid making our presence known and hope ETs won’t notice us. But it seems we may already have made our presence known in this corner of the galaxy.
Our first radio transmission was made in 1906, and is still heading away from earth, deep into space at the speed of light. It has covered 113 lightyears, an area containing over 7,400 star systems, each likely with planets.
Some of those planets orbit in a habitable zone — so there could be life there, listening in on our radio and television broadcasts from long ago.
Yes, the signals have weakened, but is it possible extraterrestrials have sensitive enough detectors? After all, we recently detected repeating radio signals from somewhere, right?
So, let’s say ETs may know we are here. What will they think of us? What would they make of humanity? Would they be impressed or revolted? Would they be friendly and understanding, or hostile and judgmental? The answer makes a huge difference as to the outcome of such a meeting. On the positive side, we do have time to make a difference.
Here are a few recommendations for putting our best face forward:
1. Stop killing each other, either one-on-one or nation-against-nation. Make peace the highest priority.
2. Increase the number of people living and working in space so we don’t have all of humanity’s eggs in one basket, as it were. Besides, outposts in space may give us early warning of ET’s arrival.
3. Improve our ability to communicate with non-human life forms such as whales, dolphins, primates and octopuses to give us practice.
4. In case No. 3 doesn’t work out, improve our defensive weapons systems. Never to be used on each other — only against space-borne threats. Paranoid, yes, but better to be prepared than enslaved.
5. Eliminate all crime, across the board.
6. Stop building walls; build bridges. Expand global markets. A rising tide lifts all boats.
7. Maximize sustainable energy — solar, wind power, geo-thermal — proving we can live in harmony with our environment.
8. Put greater effort into treating each other with fairness, concern, kindness and respect.
9. Start a movement and put elected officials on notice this is our collective priority. We need leadership to reach these goals, not posturing and finger-pointing.
Interestingly, the things we could do to impress ET will, in the long run, be good for us. Hard? Yes, but this can all be done.