Saturday, August 20, 2011

Climate Science Fiction

America’s confidence in the scientific community was lightly rocked when the Guardian, an accredited British news outlet, claimed that NASA affiliated climate scientists at Penn State reported in a scientific study that “Aliens may destroy humanity to protect other civilizations.” Daily Mail Online made a similar report.

The Huffington Post was quick to refute the claim. So was Network World’s Michael Cooney. But they merely refute that it is a “NASA report.” Meaning to say, it was not a federally funded study, though one of the scientists is very clearly affiliated with NASA. Yet neither can refute that the scientific report exists. It is very real.

One of the authors of the report, Shawn Domagal-Goldman, apologized for touting his affiliation with NASA, which he undoubtedly employed to lend credence to the report’s findings. However, in his final disclaimer, he states: “I stand by the analysis in the paper.”

Here’s a sample of this “analysis,” which seems to present beneficial, neutral, and harmful outcomes to human interaction with extraterrestrials:

"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 civilisational 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.
This “scientific report” has been at least limitedly accepted as “science,” evidenced by its ready availability through Cornell University Library online. So let me make sure I have this straight.  In modern academia, merely suggesting that eons ago a God could have been responsible for the Big Bang (an entirely obscure event that has no known catalyst) is an absurd suggestion worthy of expulsion from the scientific community. Yet suggesting that we change our way of life based upon the prospect that little green men could vaporize humanity on the grounds that we are not environmentally friendly? That is accredited science.

The “scientists” admit that it is a “highly speculative scenario.” But such “highly speculative scenarios” are the stuff of science fiction, not legitimate science. And indeed, the very same scenarios of this scientific study make up the canon of science fiction. The report relates that a beneficial result of alien interaction could result in innovations that could enhance the human experience. We’ve seen this before in a Twilight Zone episode called “The Gift” where an alien brings humanity a cure for cancer, and the film "Men In Black" suggests that this has already happened, resulting in Velcro and compact discs. Neutral outcomes to alien interaction could result in humanity being invited to a “Galactic Club” (the Federation of Star Trek?), or that aliens could become a nuisance as they do in "District 9," which the “scientists” even suggest as a point of reference for such potential interaction!

As far as harmful outcomes, we can infer from the outline of the report that there are two types of scenarios here: contact with selfish extraterrestrials, and Universalist extraterrestrials. We can assume that the selfish extraterrestrials would seek to eradicate humanity for resources or control of the planet (see: "Independence Day" and "War of the Worlds"). Universalist extraterrestrials, therefore, are the aforementioned intergalactic environmentalists that would come and destroy us because we are a threat to ourselves, the Earth, and alien beings. Because if advanced alien life forms exist, their understanding and ambition would probably fall in line perfectly with the intellectual elites of Earth, don’t you know.

Oh, and as fellow Political Palaver blogger Calvin Parker has reminded me, the latter plot is even lifted from the remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Seems to me that there isn’t an ounce of science or even originality in this report- only liberal borrowings from science fiction films.

Hasn’t the anthropogenic global warming nonsense done enough damage to the science fiction genre? It is responsible for "Waterworld," after all. Now it has to rip off science fiction by stealing its ideas and doomsday scenarios and presenting them as some new scientific theory?

Here’s what genuine science might have to say about the “speculative” prospects of alien life, as described by Rick Moran of American Thinker, referencing the study group SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). “Most experts believe that if aliens exist, their thought processes - logic, reason, perceptions - would be, well, ALIEN. They wouldn't reason the same way we do. And to ascribe a logical thought process (humans ruin their own planet therefore humans must be destroyed) to an unknown alien civilization is beyond idiocy. It enters the rarified milieu of the mentally deranged - people who would spend all day banging their heads against a wall if allowed.”

But that’s modern science for you- scientists banging their heads against a wall trying to prove to a disbelieving populace that carbon proliferation leads to dangerous warming trends and will ultimately lead to famine, scorched earth, dangerously rising sea levels, and now alien invasion. If academics really wanted to solve a mystery of the universe, perhaps they could figure out how these increasingly absurd studies suggesting the outrageous ramifications of anthropogenic climate change are continually passed off as “science.”

William Sullivan

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