Fox News gets it wrong, on purpose, again. I know, I’m shocked too. They breathlessly title this article Aliens Could Attack Earth to End Global Warming, NASA Scientist Frets — having obviously been edited from “NASA Scientist Claims” (check the URL) because that was insufficient sneering.
First, let’s make this clear — the panel was asked to come up with scenarios why aliens might attack us. They were asked to come up with “neutral”, “unintentional harm” and “intentional harm” scenarios wherein we make first contact with aliens. Among the reasons aliens might decide to attack us are: 1) to enslave us, 2) to eat us, and 3) to strike preemptively before we wreck their shit.
Extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) “could attack and kill us, enslave us, or potentially even eat us. ETI could attack us out of selfishness or out of a more altruistic desire to protect the galaxy from us. We might be a threat to the galaxy just as we are a threat to our home planet,” it warns.
One such scenario is the stuff of many a Hollywood blockbuster, a “standard fight-to-win conflict: a war of the worlds.” But another might resonate more with fans of Al Gore’s documentary film “An Inconvenient truth.”
It speculates that aliens, worried we might inflict the damage done to our own planet on others, might “seek to preemptively destroy our civilization in order to protect other civilizations from us.”
The reason they might clue in to our presence to begin with? Well, we’re kinda in the process of wrecking our own environment, in ways that might be detectable from light years away via the same methods that we’re using right now to figure things out about exoplanets’ atmospheres. The fact that once, we had very little CO2 in the atmosphere, and now we’ve got a lot more (like double!), might be a big old warning flag to these extraterrestrials that something is happening on our planet and it might be worth checking it out. They might realize that we’ve entered the industrial age but haven’t matured past rampant capitalism, and that has arrested our ability to actually do something about having destroyed our only life support system. They might well be concerned that we’re spacefaring, and that we might spread our self-destructive habits to other niches in the cosmic neighborhood, maybe even threatening their own planet with our backward and self-centered ways.
But the scientists were asked to come up with sci-fi scenarios why they might attack us. This ain’t “oh those crazy liberals think we’d better stop that imaginary global warming that Al Gore invented or else some aliens will wipe us out”. This ain’t about the conservative ideals of profit-first, sustainability-never. This is speculation based on a specific request made of these scientists and it’s not all that far-fetched given that our own level of technology allows us to determine things about planets that are hundreds of light years away that might just tip us off that something big was changing on those planets too. This is barely science fiction. And yet Fox News takes the opportunity to craft the perfect headline, the one that’ll make sure us crazy liberals are laughed at for our crazy ideas.
There’s nothing objectionable about the study you’re sneering so hard at, Fox. I’d advise you stop sneering soon or your collective faces might freeze like that.