Ever been wiped out by plague, an accidental genocide, ripped apart between two or more feuding 'worlds'? These are some of the nasty side-effects of coming into contact with aliens. Fragile ecosystems are always under threat from some parasitic horde deposited from afar; there’s enough evidence to show that the clash is a constant, and adaptation equals survival. On a cultural and race level, wise Native American Indians can probably raise their hands to the job of Diplomatic Relations with Beings of Unknown Intentions because they've seen it all.
While the nitty gritty of history is not always pleasantly digested, luckily it's in the past, will one day (when the stretched universe folds in on itself) be forgotten, and if you're smart, you can dodge it when it repeats itself.
Earth, by very little effort of its own, is just another civilisation on a pretty blue ball that can too easily be kicked around in a game between alien personalities and cultures. Who knows, the rights to explore and extract the heat from the molten core may already be going to auction at some inter-galactic clearing house. Again, rather than wildly speculate, we can always rummage through the history books for a glimpse of previous first contacts that may one day help us to deal with our first real inter-galactic contact.
Diplomatic Pre-Emptive Solution: Form a task force to assess the findings from the following experiment: Lock up the most creative mathematicians and science fiction writers in a mountain retreat with access to unlimited food, low grade acid (LSD), fine red and white wine, German and/or Czech beer, and soft drinks. Give them a month to draft up 103 possible episodes where aliens actually come to earth. Get them to map out all the ‘eventualities’ that could happen, and what we should do to be prepared.
Before we get too carried away on some of the possibilities that may fall from the sky, it is worth remembering that while we are familiar with the (sometimes loose) laws of human nature, at our base is the guiding hand of mother nature, which is a cosmetic way to deter us from thinking about nature, as in ‘laws of the jungle’ kind of nature where microscopic alien hordes of parasite fall from the skies onto our scalps and squirm through our ears to eat our brains. The Laws of the Jungle are just descendants of The Laws of Cosmic Nature: Eat or be eaten. Protect or be protein. We are all preying on something.
Right down to the molecular level, things are eating up other things. Little creatures evolve to deceive or completely disappear. Parasites, in all shapes and forms, the villain kind, the loving kind, and the prosaic kind, are all intent on sucking away while exerting the least of effort. If we forget the basics of the jungle, then when playing diplomacy with aliens on a noble level, we are just lowering our level in the food chain a few notches, and perhaps that’s no great problem: There’s lots of room at the bottom, not so much at the top (but the view is definitely better).
There must have been a tremendous joy in converting isolated peoples to a bigger and easier picture of the world. Of all the religions none other is easier to pick on then Christianity, which is a shame because it has done so much good in the world, but it is quite fashionable to neglect that and stick to the events and side-effects that make a good excuse for some ritualistic self-flagellation.
Missionaries saw it as their destiny to bring the light to those still in darkness. A few centuries ago it was about ‘saving souls’ by making the ignorant see the joy in Christ, these days it’s about ‘saving souls’ by showing them the jobs of consumerism. Missionaries did give way to merchants, which is no surprise, and the opening up of the New World yanked the Old World into what we have now: An interconnected world. While we are thoroughly globalised and access to information for all the blessed peoples of the lands is continuing, we want to know more and religions are not dying off: Many believe and want to believe more. In aggregate, in the eyes of a cunning alien species, we are still the lost tribe in the wilderness raising our arms up to pagans. In the eyes of the benevolent alien, regardless of what we already believe in, we’re alone on our little planet waiting to be converted to something else.
What an alien race could convert us to is way beyond our comprehension. A tribe in Papua New Guinea, use to bowing down to crocodile gods and demonic dogs and weather fairies, would see very few parallels with Jesus and his Crew raising messiah-hell with the Jew Boys and the Occupying Roman Legions. Yet there was some magic, a lot of perseverance, breeding and more saving of souls: Those Catholics sure knew how to increase their market share. In our modern times there is flow back: Some of the flock are ditching Christ for Buddha, or trusting themselves completely in science in holding all the cards. Last millennium, this millennium and next, religion will always be one of the things not to talk about at dinner parties (sex and politics being the other two). But an alien species doesn’t have to make us change religions to convert us. They could just as easily jam all our media (television networks, internet, even all our PowerPoint presentations) with their own PowerPoint Presentation showing in pretty pictures and menacing bullet points the end of our solar system due to a defective sun, and we’d be worshipping and washing their slimy green feet in no time.
The goal of conversion is servitude. Be it new gods, apocalyptic threats, or promises of an afterlife, we are easy bait. In any case, it could be quite interesting to see how and why a conniving alien species would try to convert us. Are they as crazy as we were?
In 1788 a British fleet of naval and convict ships reached their destination, what is now Sydney, and began one of the most amazing experiments known to mankind: White Australia began its life as a prison, most likely on a whim, by the powers that were in London, which was at the time building the mighty British Empire up to its zenith. The greatness of the British Empire relied on naval bases at convenient ports and junctures around the world (e.g. Malta, Singapore) to aid the free flow of commerce back to Britain. Why these masters of the seas decided on a convict settlement far, far away was simple: London was awash with criminals, they were rotting away in barges on the Thames and other crummy locations, and the idea of sending them to the other side of the world would act as a handsome deterrent to the thieves not yet convicted or contemplating a life of serial bread stealing and assorted crimes. Contrary to folklore, usually repeat offenders (not the bread thieves ‘to feed my family, guv’nor’ variant) were sent off to Botany Bay. The experiment continued and grew, with more convict settlements erected away from Sydney in places like Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) and Brisbane.
To the resident population of Aboriginals it must have been very confusing for two reasons:
No European power had managed to settle anywhere on the Australian continent. Australia was the last continent to be settled, and the fact the British made it was all to do with timing – they were expanding at the time, had boat loads of convicts to jettison somewhere, and the vague eastern outline of New Holland (former name of Australia) as charted by Captain James Cook must have looked bizarre, yet still inviting, for the cause. Why a large tract of Australia was called New South Wales is baffling, so uncanny things seem to have been in abundance.
The white aliens set up a prison. Aboriginals are mostly nomadic, and differences were usually settled with a duel or a trial; painful, savage, and violent, their way. Importantly, a prison was not a concept they were familiar with. Even today, imprisoned Aboriginals have a high suicide rate; they see it as the end, rather as a brief stay courtesy of Her Majesty.
It's no surprise that Aboriginal Australians are still trying to come to grips with the modern world that washed up on their shores. Alcohol, new diseases and European mentality caused the Aboriginal people all sorts of calamities. For the convicts, it must have been bewildering to be sent to the far side of the known world, into an unknown land, to serve time for crimes for which one may never return. Many never did, they became modern day Australians, and seek revenge on the British by visiting London, drinking too much and vomiting where they see fit, probably on the very spot where their ancestor from six generations ago was picking pockets, the embodiment of Dickens’s Artful Dodger.
As for the deterrent that Australia was meant to be, there is no evidence that it worked. Convicts who had served their time enjoyed settling this new wide land. The prison became a paradise. The end game is simple to understand though: Britain had another colony, and how it acquired them was rarely the sugar-coated tales from polished historical fairy tales.
So is it plausible that aliens would drop off their undesirables on the lovely blue planet?
Well, in a nutshell, why shouldn't it be? The assumption that all aliens are fun loving, gregarious, good natured, and beyond malevolence, is a typical naïve trait that has bitten countless earth civilisations in the behind numerous times. And, if ET has some bad apples in his sack, and a sense of humour, and finds earth a completely incomprehensible place on the far, far side of the galaxy, why not offload some undesirables there, after all, according to Dante, Hell is the impossibility of reason: the most ingenious of prisons. And Hell must be a universal threat.
Diplomatic solution: Get in on the act. In fact, expand the operation. Comply with the powers that prefer earth as a place for offenders, particularly galactic political offenders. Earth is so desperate for knowledge of what’s out there, hosting a prison can only be a positive step.
All pirates need a headquarters, somewhere out of the way, far from suspecting eyes, and where the native populace are none the wiser.
To wide-eyed earthlings, any swash-buckling alien waltzing down the gangway from a UFO pock-marked with laser beams or space debris, would be treated with the highest of respect. They would be feted like a demi-God, offered a permanent base by any nation wily enough to have a glimmer of geopolitical vision, and feel quite at ease dazzling their new docile friends with technology from light years away.
E:T. need not be Captain Blackbeard, or even Sir Francis Drake, plundering the seas and raiding Spanish ports, he/she/it could just be a rogue, even an individual seeking sanctuary. An elaborate cover could last for as long as required.
Diplomatic solution: If there are aliens, then there are pirate aliens. And then there will be alien law enforcement officers. The decision making on who to side with becomes tricky, so from the very beginning play innocent, yet be on the payroll of both parties.
To the average earthling, the fact that we are not in regular contact with aliens yet are fed enough material to 'want to believe' something is out there, means there is a simple conclusion: They're out there but we're not ready, which means they're watching, which implies the investment in time and energy in surveillance must have an upside for them. When or how earth reaches this point, where the upside is delivered or leveraged to our observant alien friends, who knows. It might be a milestone we don’t even know exists yet, but whatever it is, someone out there has a bet on us.
Diplomatic Solution: What does any good gambler do? Risk it all and raise the stakes! And why not? If an Alien Culture is betting on us coming good, we should be pro-active with our own space related developments and get busy. It’s in our best interest to make sure that the returns of own endeavours will be so amazingly high that any observing aliens will want to get in on the action. Then we have contact and the game roles on! Impress then, seek their input and investment in us, and then they, the investor and the gambler as one, are hooked into the bet. They won't pull out for fear of losing their principle, and then they will want to invest more to leverage the investment off the scale. We should play on the nature of the gambler, on the galactic level.
If you have ever met someone who will talk you into (and in my experience, I met someone who wrote a book on it and set up his own stall at a New York Book Expo) the argument that alien intervention played a part in our evolution, and if you stare in their eyes long enough, you’ll really start to believe that they're in fact the alien, so it must be true. Cringing experiences aside, there are other theories that end with the same point: We're just an experiment. Accept and scale up the concept and lamentation that we are someone else’s experiment, in this humble dimension no doubt (maybe this is a sandbox dimension), we can extrapolate about our whimsical ‘wondering about the Gods’ because they, or one of them, is the chief designer; maybe God is a teenager-alien-games-designer sitting in his bedroom having a big laugh and impressing his game-designing friends, “Look what I invented! So far it’s evolved up to 7 billion souls who have no idea what their purpose on their planet is for, but wait, I’m programming a cataclysmic apocalypse to see who survives and we can watch them ponder, panic and kill each other off. Cool, huh?”
We may even be a very well organised and monitored virtual experiment that is then hacked by giddy inter-galactic teenagers.
If we are an elaborate experiment that goes all the way to quantum mechanics and a horde of things our top boffins are slaving away to identify (like the Higgs boson), then all our attempts at finding the end of the maze may be disastrous: the designer can dissolve the game. He can pull the plug, start again, our bodies will collapse into a pile of atoms. The surface of earth would experience a tingling feeling as the combined electrical charge of atomising bodies and souls fizzles away. All that would be left to hear are the waves crashing on shores and the wind eroding the mountains – if they aren’t part of the experiment.
Diplomatic Solution: Don't outshine the master, when you know a master exists. There are experiments where we push the limits of our own world (digging for the sub-particles that make up our world), yet at some stage we will face the morbid wall – there is no way out – but maybe another side (dimension). Of course we can play that as someone's creations they should be proud, and like Dolly the cloned sheep, we should be free to wander the rolling green pastures and be ever so thankful for our existence. This may explain religion, and reverence to Gods. Many simply believe that stuck in nature's chaos, it was the gods that positioned us here. We are alive thanks to the Gods, be it Zeus, the geeky alien game designer, or your idea of God. For atheists to prove that God is dead or doesn't exist, they have to first prove that we are not in the safety of a virtual experiment. Chew on that, heathens / dirty kuffars.
We haven't killed ourselves off yet, but we certainly have snuffed quite a few other species. Alien intervention that may save our souls may not have our souls in mind, after all a super brain alien soul would, sorry spiritually speaking, be mega spiritually in touch, a lot more than ours, and look down on us as we do things like bears, tigers, and penguins. Perhaps we are equal in the souls department, perhaps not. Perhaps ET is a zoo keeper. He makes visits, checks on us, observes what we're eating, where and what we're defecating (e.g. giving back to the *environment*), mindful if we start eating each other, in which case he may bestow wonderful technology on one side, or obliterate the other.
Not surprisingly, ET the Zoo Keeper charges exorbitantly to other Aliens to come and view the cute and furless bipeds, perhaps we're a lesser known and lesser exotic zoo; off the main highway, visited only by families lost in their warp speed family wagons.
Humans need zoos because it reminds us of the wild, and the captivity of animals soothes our own sense of captivity – for an alien race no matter how advanced they are and how far they can roam, their own sense of captivity in an expanding universe will be alleviated by our own captivity: We are trapped on earth, and though commercial space is rising, our few and feeble efforts to explore beyond earth have been run solely by our governments or billionaires.
Diplomatic Solution: An inmate and attraction of the zoo soon gains notoriety, and being unable to break out, it’s the visitors who someday band together and demand its release. If ET the Zoo Keeper is indeed charging Aliens entry to this zoo, or conducting tours, or just keeping a watch over his stock (the talent), his customers will (hopefully) rally and demand that unless we are pure automata animalistic beings (like sharks), we be granted higher rights of sorts. On earth, the rise of animal rights may be a good sign that in the eyes of aliens, we're mature enough for rights too.
This notion of salvation from above is prevalent in many cultures. A religion offering an enjoyable after-life is one form, the television Game Show and middle-class welfare are modern variations, but infinitely more interesting is the Cargo Cult.
It is possibly the strangest yet exotic phenomena observed in traditional (think: grass-skirt, topless dancing) cultures. From New Guinea to the Solomon Islands to Melanesia and the New Hebrides, many communities, separated by seas and their own individual languages, spontaneously took on the same type of observation and therefore bizarre belief: When white culture (and produce) would retreat from their islands, his cargo, notably Western produce, would be bequeathed to the tribes.
In a nutshell, and to paint an easy example, white colonialists and other forces came to remote places where supplies had to be shipped or flown in. To a local tribe, the sight of the whites clearing a runway, manning a radio, and waiting for a bird from the sky to deliver tinned foods and many other marvels that would seem to be the cream of some God in the Sky's crop, the whole process could easily be misinterpreted. The isolated tribes of the South Pacific missed out on the Romans, the Middle-Ages, the Industrial Revolution, but not spam, the old kind (tinned ham, for those of you who should be in bed by now) shipped around the world by the U.S. Military as they went at it with the tenacious Imperial Japanese forces in World War Two, in the South Pacific (if you’re too young to know any of this, please study some history in your spare time. If you’re an adult and you don’t know this, you have a lot of reading to do). These tribes only saw the end product: Big noisy birds from the Gods (who else could possibly send them) and the delivery of all sorts of goodies. Imagine the supplies needed to fuel a battalion of soldiers, air-lifted to a remote island? It's no surprise then that some of these tribes, mostly after the white man had gone, enacted the arrival of the Gods and the raining down of food and marvels of the modern world through religious ceremonies. If you were around at the time you’d find rewarding employment as a witch doctor; supervising the clearing of an airfield, mimicking the ‘talking to the gods’ radio man (who has just informed the Battalion Commander that they’re facing off with another bonsai charge), conducting the marching dances, wailing at the blue sky, and the sailing down to earth of booty. And your believers would probably be more captivated than you – it had happened before and it must happen again. The Gods did it for the previous generation, why not for us?
Any alien culture with a touch of anthropology in their culture would see earthlings' susceptibility to such frailties. Any visiting alien would be under stick orders to not feed the locals, nor present them with shiny gifts.
Alternatively, Aliens do not have to be burdened by maturity. They may be burdened by knowledge, and very apt at using it for their own advantage – enslaving a planet by their own beliefs. Of course the gifts of technology would have to be overwhelming, yet it's reasonable to say that one breed of Alien only has to play the Cargo Cult card on one breed of earthling: Be it religion, superpower, or rogue state.
Diplomatic Solution: Discipline is the key here. Whoever receive the gifts from above must have the discipline to understand they and we are not worthy of it, yet. However, for a handsome fee, I am sure they will come to an agreeable ‘sharing’ arrangement.
More alarmingly, Cargo Cult Earthlings culture may actually be ingrained already. There are no shortage of sects who are right now waiting for a mother ship to whisk them away to some paradise way out of our sun’s gravitational pull. On a mass market level, there’s no shortage of science fiction fans devouring tall tales where aliens meet and greet and empower lesser beings. Sometimes a sci-fi tale becomes mainstream, making the bridge with an old fashioned fairy tale where a handsome prince rescues a down and out, gorgeous, servant girl from a life of servitude.
According to history or folklore, almost one and the same in the digital age, the Dutch bought Manhattan from Native Americans for $24 worth of beads and trinkets. There is no solid evidence of this transaction, apart from a letter written by a Dutch merchant called Pieter Schagen in 1626. Writing to the directors of the West India Company, who had been granted ownership of New Netherland, Schagen claimed that the Dutch on the island of Manhattan ‘have bought the island of Manhattes from the savages for a value of 60 guilders’. What supposedly changed hands and what that amount would be worth today, and what the value of Manhattan is worth (with or without the Twin Towers) is irrelevant. What we want to hear is a parable of how nasty capitalist Europeans swindled those poor decent Native Americans out of some prime real estate. Geopolitical swindling is evidence of history, otherwise all would be equal, borders would never shift, and we’d still be poking each other in the eyes with pointed sticks.
Is earth at risk from some well dressed Aliens dangling marvellous inventions before our wide eyes? The answer is firstly a robust ‘No’, because we (or those Muppets in power looking after us) wouldn't let it happen, unless of course we are naïve against all superior cultures. So, in short, it can happen, and more definitely, it will happen. An Alien presence on earth will lead to trade and ownership of something, not necessarily everything – save that for the hordes on Mars eyeing our blue jewel and everything we've got – but there is scope for a trade. 'Not being swindled' is a paranoia at the top of many culture's minds, and in any trade one plays the sheep, the other the wolf. Does anyone expect our first inter-galactic trade to be a windfall, and if it was profitable, who profits?
Diplomatic Solution: If Aliens do try a quick deal, or even a long drawn out bartering act, it doesn't hurt to ask for more. When facing the first offer, always look offended. Ratchet up the stakes. Pull some poker faces, keep the game going and make them sweat. In the end we will be swindled, so sell them a radioactive dump before a coral reef.
An alien Trojan Horse invasion hardly needs explanation, your puny earthling imagination is probably roaring to life and already protesting incongruously: But how could we possibly let benevolent looking and acting aliens land on our beautiful blue planet dressed in tuxedos and walking like harmless penguins suddenly assassinate our high ranking, democratically elected, photogenic politicians and United Nations officials greeting them, and then barbarically enslave us and suck all the water from the earth?
History: Who gave blankets with small pox to American Indians?
Diplomatic Solution: Bad Aliens have us in the palm of their hand, so being diplomatic may only be digging our own grave deeper. If they can pull the Trojan Horse trick on us, they will. Quit the appeasement and take up the pitch fork. Your planet needs you.
On earth we have nutcases, specialists who take time out to scare anyone who is listening, of the apparent dangers of everything you have little or no interest in.
Apocalyptic doom and feel good motivations almost go in hand.
Some of these nutcases champion the communication with aliens. They make sound arguments by pointing to bits of evidence bobbing along on the flotsam of internet-junk crafted military secrets and suburbanised folklore.
If they’re not proclaiming the world will end, they know someone who has telepathic conversations with aliens regarding Extraterrestrials governance. They may even elaborate on The Council of 8: the intelligent civilizations of the Pleiades, Orion, Sirius, Bootes, Alpha Centauri, Comsuli, Zeta, Reticuli, and Pouseti, who have graciously taken on the caretaker role of earth for the last million years. Apparently they have maintained Earth under ‘protective quarantine’ following an attempted ‘invasion’. Holy cow. That was close.
Some Nutcases may not be so nuts, some want the governments of the world to disclose the secret contacts and covert diplomacy already going on between aliens and who ever on earth has managed to wrangle their way into the negotiator’s seat.
If at its worst the Nutcases are all wrong, they may pose a danger to any alien pondering popping down and saying hello and doing whatever they set out to do; They may scan the world’s media and dig deep enough and find nutcases painting a sordid and distorted picture of the true reality.
If only a small fraction of the Nutcases are ever proved right, they may just have been lucky in predicting what kind of alien would ever choose to visit and why. Ten points for creativity, ingenuity and courage.
If a very, very, few Nutcases (a very, very, few because if even a very few Nutcases were ever right is not worth contemplating) are right, have had contact with weird and wonderful aliens, would they not profit from it, other than creating scam organisations to entrap suckers into weekend meditation camps? If you had a direct telepathic line to Martians, and even if you were a die-hard Marxist, at some point you would leverage this gift into a form of power. When an ‘Aliens Are Amongst Us’ Nutcase emerges that turns their vision and personal hotline to a ‘key invading alien decision maker’ into an Intergalactic Entrepreneurial Enterprise that makes them trillions, not billions, then you must bow down to them and hand over your business card, because the Nutcase will now be our esteemed and revered Diplomat to Aliens.
Diplomatic Solution: Absolutely none. If one of the true Nutcases are ever right, be prepared to eat your hat.
Would earth be seen as strange or weird? We inadvertently categorise people (weird friends, nauseatingly weird family, whacko colleagues, and other races) into these categories, so aliens may not be that different. Peruse these two hypothetical scenarios:
Number One. On the planet Splatter, very, very, very far away, is a gas station for refuelling your space craft. Sometimes, those who pass through Splatter, musing on how ‘everything that can be discovered, has been discovered, and life, though for some be it eternal, is really quite boring’ ask the gas station staff, a very friendly breed of general (to the universe) inter-galactic peasant, the following: “Say, is there anything remotely interesting for my amazing superior intellect, around here?”
Splatter Inter-Galactic Peasant ‘A’ looks the visitor up and down, and not too curious of where the visitor comes from, what they’re doing out so far in the boondocks of this galaxy, and where they’re going, then turns to Splatter Inter-Galactic Peasant ‘B’, and emits a long, drawn out chortle, that Splatter Inter-Galactic Peasant ‘B’ raucously crushes by leering at and daring the visitor, “If you want to see something funny, though some say more horrible than funny, that’s not too far away, we’ll even pack a picnic hamper for you because you won’t stay there that long and all the other visitors there are back here for dinner, try earth.”
Number Two. In the other direction to that of the planet Splatter, very, very, very far away, is a planet called Grey, because it is eternally grey. The beings there are somewhat advanced and astonished every single time some strange craft visits their grey world and seems to light it up a bit. There is conjecture whether they are really alone as they feel. One day the elites of Grey detect, because they’re pro-active on this subject, a spike of communication from a planet very, very, very far away, that we call Earth. The wise inhabitants of Grey waste no time in handing the hat around, tooling a craft for the mission, and fare welling their intrepid astronauts. The journey may take ten or a thousand years, and until the people of Grey receive a report back about Earth, they will hold Earth in a very, very, high regard.
Diplomatic Solution: From a diplomatic point of view, and if you believe in destiny, whether we are interesting or an oddity is way beyond our control, but the outcomes are very important. Each country’s politicians and media always seem to paint their respective lands as if though not exactly the centre of the world stage, it’s at least very, very close to it. The challenge for any aspiring Diplomat to Aliens is to brand earth above how visitors may (sneeringly) view it.
Also remember that on an earth social level, when it comes to ‘oddities’, one is considered ‘eccentric’ if they are financially comfortable or wealthy (regardless if they made their money from the application of their eccentricity), or just ‘weird’ if they’re poor and lower-middle-class. Society is cruel. The depths of space will be crueller.
Quite often in life it’s those that love us that hurt us the most. On the topic of life, as in life other than our collective lives, we could probe Nietzsche and a horde of other sobering philosophers to the moment when our egos are proved right and some aliens out there really do think of us as much as we think of us. It will be a psychological and philosophical field day. People will queue for miles just to get a quarter hour slot with their local psychoanalyst, to help conquer what alien contact means to them.
Our weakness, for contact to mean something, even something meaningful, is what any aspiring alien can use to beat us with. They know what they want out of the contact and precisely how to get what they want, plus create some frivolity; which is the fabric of life and makes the space-time continuum less boring, in order to control us. How they control us very much depends on who they are and at what level of evolutionary loveliness or nastiness they have reached.
Because the Universe is supposedly accelerating out to nowhere and infinite, there are innumerable types of aliens out there. To explain them in great detail would involve removing your humble brain and implanting it into something more powerful. So make things easier, we can divide Aliens Out There into two types:
The Thugs. Yes, thugs from outta space. They come to our planet like in some block buster Hollywood movie and raise hell. They have the ray guns, the lasers, the shape-shifting capability, and they love oppressing the weak. The stick they beat us with is superior technology. Earth is no stranger to one culture snuffing the other thanks to superior technology, and the Thugs spare no mercy in subjugating us helpless earthlings. In the end we’ll be slaves or fertiliser, end of story, unless a roguish action hero or a home grown bacteria saves the day.
The Sentient Beings. They are so far advanced they hardly remember where or what sludge they crawled out of so many billions of years ago. They’re so ‘out there’ they can’t even remember the purpose of their big trip over this way into the Milky Way. But they arrive in some shape and have already studied us, and not entirely sure why, they simply must have something over us. There doesn’t need to be a rationale, earth is no stranger to ‘holier than thou’ cultures converting ‘lesser’ cultures to religions that seemed ‘shit hot’ or ‘super cool’ at the time. Many a heads have rolled over a preference to un-provable Gods. And so it will be with the sneaky Sentient Beings: They’re here to change our will on some agenda, and not wishing to draw their light sabres from their scabbards nor get them blood splattered, will resort to other milder methods to make us tow their line. Conversion (as discussed previously) is the goal and all the Sentient Beings have to do is create some event that eclipses all we have come to expect from our own home grown religions and apocalyptic predictions. Once we see something amazing, it’s in our nature to strive to find a complete understanding of why it happened, and as a bonus, somehow blame ourselves for it. For the Sentient Beings, far superior in forms of guilt, violence and taste than the humble Thugs, their act of oppression is the miraculous: Create a new sun in our solar system (as per 2010, the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey), melt the Arctic Ice Caps, throw a cloud of opaque gas between us and our own sun, bring back the dinosaurs, or even send down a messiah. Whatever happens, we’ll (or not you and I, but those uncontrollable masses) be there to fall to our feet.
Beware the light that guides you may blind you, and that the to stick to guide us by, beats us as well.
The stage is set. A mother ship descends. The world’s leaders and public relations spinners are there, ready to greet what we know will be a very advanced and sage species who look a bit funny, have travelled 20,000 light years (at half the speed of light), and are probably gagging with claustrophobia to go for a brisk walk outside their crammed ship. So, they land, they walk the red carpet carrying a harpoon, they look around, and say, “What the fuck is wrong with you humanoids? We are here for the whale hunting season. Take us to the nearest and most exotic pod! I’m hungry for some sperm whale! I haven’t had some raw whale blubber in 20,000 earth years.”
They’re here for anything but us. In terms of inter-galactic intelligence in the Milky Way, we may be a few steps below average. We may be plain boring on many levels. What may be really exciting about earth is what’s around us, what’s overlooked, what’s underfoot, and what we’ve made of it. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise (after the initial let-down) because earth does have bio-diversity, and that may be of more value than our egotistic selves.
Diplomatic Solution: If you are a free thinker, probably right wing leaning, and have had to swallow the waffle from hard core environmentalists, it’s easy to understand the natural recoil and repulsion at anything to do with the environmental movement. Sadly for the environmental movement, and here’s the gag line – for the environment – much of the early environmental movement seems to have evolved from left leaning, vehemently anti-nuclear weapon, and therefore anti-nuclear power, long-haired anti-capitalist hippy types. Now that the environmental movement has swum upstream and gone mainstream, political, and if elected too far into power may re-invent fascism for their own purposes, they are a force, untried and unpredictable from the fringe (the Nazis and Khmer Rouge were from the fringe), that must be reckoned with. But peel away the noises they make to get our attention and there is an element of reality: At some point the environment needs protection. Why it needs protection is obvious enough, and as an added bonus, some higher culture may value it as well. An alien species may even thank us for saving our planet’s biodiversity, because on their planet they squandered it and have since then roamed the cosmos for a lost Eden: A new world on which to start again, atone old environmental sins. And yes, they’d wipe us out just to have a vacant earth and hence a chance to feel better about themselves.
The next war could be the last, or World War Four may be fought with pointed sticks between mutated off-spring of post-apocalyptic earthlings. However, World War Three doesn’t have to be a nuclear Armageddon; the decline of the United States rubbing noses with the apparent rising Chinese Empire (under the dubious branding of the hammer and the sickle) can lead to a hi-tech war, albeit with minimal nuclear reprisals, and hopefully just a few tactical nuclear strikes. Using small scale nuclear weapons on the battle-field (e.g. attacking ground forces or even tightly grouped fleets) will not lead to a devastating nuclear winter. However, when cold wars get hot, the inevitable threat remains: Shooting between ships with high speed missiles can escalate to nuclear tipped thrusts on enemy forces that will lead to nuclear strikes on bases. Military bases aren’t conveniently far away from civilians, in fact it makes sense to have brothels as close as possible to bases. If wars begin to creep into a terminal nuclear phase, then our alien friends may decide to step in.
In the old days when nuclear arsenals were grouped in silos or riding on long range bombers from fixed, interfering with earthlings’ genocide tendencies was much easier. Now nuclear weapons are in silos, on long range bombers, at bases, in submarines designed to lurk, aboard aircraft carriers to be loaded on bombers, on missile launching trucks, in transit, and if you believe the early 21st century hysteria about terrorism, in suitcases. White terrorists are hard to control (God can always step in, but where is he when terrorists are racing against the clock for a date with 72 virgins?) but the command and control systems of nuclear-armed powers are prone to a specific weakness: Satellites.
Satellites are the unsung umbilical cord we have with space. Recent space exploration politics has split into two parties. First are those, like the Americans, willing to pay to push man further (and stoically holding out against nations’ budget cuts and financial crisis) because it is imperative that earthlings spread beyond our comfort zone, and still send up satellites. Next are the Europeans and patient believers in technology, their space efforts lean more towards gadgets that draw in more data about how the world and the galaxy around us works. More satellites, wonderment, questions.
Earth will always push out with satellites like a torch in a mine because spacecraft are cheaper than earth-replacements: The space craft that have the technological ability to ferry humans for a long, long time to their destination, and then back home.
For the love of satellites the honeymoon is over: To wave the ‘FUCK. OFF.’ flag on an emerging towering height, China and the United States have both bagged a satellite with missiles (usually a defunct satellite of their own (to date)), and yet the old-school Soviet Union had already tested several anti-satellite weapons.
Just a few exploding satellites pose an even greater problem – already there are 20,000 pieces of space debris below 10cm whizzing by. More debris is incalculable. You can even buy shares in a company that tracks space debris with a laser, I have. A speck of debris can collide with a satellite with an impact speed of over 40,000 kilometres per hour.
A grand alien gift would be the technological means to clean up space debris, something environmentalists should ponder funding for, but the hard reality is that earth will have to overcome its first space problem, alone and dignified, or just built harder-to-destroy satellites.
The Space Arms Race is already on. There are people and the military drumming up treaties to keep space neutral for us and extra-terrestrials. So how long one of our own rules is broken in the name of self-preservation?
The end game in a space war in earth orbit can only be a satellite so chunky and thick that it simply bashes opposing satellites out of the way, or satellite-hunting-satellites like itself, with little chivalry from the days of jousting. The Cold war was a fertile innovative field to develop weapons to slap the other guy’s weapons, space is a logical elevation.
Successive world wars have pushed technology on to the masses, first by killing them, then servicing them, and space won’t be much different.
Yet there is nothing to fear. Who controls space, in the immediate case low orbit to geosynchronous orbit, has control over spying, navigation, communications, and the best weather reports. Satellite technology will become more competitive than ever, and if ever an alien culture wants it over us, they’ll still have the means to tear our flimsy little birds into pieces.
Copyright 2014 Simon Drake
Simon Drake.com contains information about my science fiction and non-fiction, (including where to paperbacks and ebooks), plus some short fiction.