(September 18, 2011) A growing body of opinion (including Energy Probe) points to the sun as the driving force behind climate change. But one recent academic paper gives the climate change debate quite a different spin: it claims the Earth’s increasing carbon output could alert extraterrestrial intelligence to our presence, for better or worse. Columnist Robin Beres asks, if aliens were coming to judge us for fossil fuel use, wouldn’t they have passed sentence several hundred years ago for, say, coal.
By Robin Beres for the Richmond Times-Dispatch
Several scientific studies dealing with issues of space, aliens and the global climate have been in the news this year, all of which have provided fascinating food for thought.
In August, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) published findings in the journal Nature that claim global warming is caused by the sun and its cosmic rays — and not human activities. CERN, creator and operator of the Large Hadron Collider, built a stainless steel chamber that precisely recreates the Earth’s atmosphere.
“Because the sun’s magnetic field controls how many cosmic rays reach Earth’s atmosphere (the stronger the sun’s magnetic field, the more it shields Earth from incoming cosmic rays from space), the sun determines the temperature on Earth,” explains Lawrence Solomon, director of Energy Probe Research Foundation.
The study seems to confirm claims by Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of space research at St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia.
In a 2009 report, “The Sun Defines the Climate,” Abdussamatov claimed that data showing Mars has also been experiencing global warming is evidence that the current warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun. Abdussamatov believes that changes in the sun’s heat output can account for almost all the climate changes seen on both planets.
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Another study, released in August by three Penn State University scientists, discussed global warming — but from a different angle, to say the least.
The paper, “Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis,” was written Seth D. Baum, Jacob D. Haqq-Misra and Shawn Domagal-Goldman — who also happens to be a NASA researcher.
The three scientists admit that no definitive sign of extraterrestrial civilization has ever been observed by humans, and even after 50 years of listening for artificial signals in space and looking for alien space junk floating around the Milky Way, nothing has ever been found. But that minor fact didn’t stop the scientists from suggesting that extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) might actually be “widespread throughout the galaxy but somehow invisible to us.”
The paper explains how ETI visits to Earth might come about — and how aliens are likely to treat us.
The study laid out possible scenarios of spacemen arriving with plans to either help us, enslave us — or even eat us (although one would think a more advanced civilization would surely shun our fat- and sodium-saturated bodies).
The paper warns that an increasing carbon output may alert aliens of our growing prowess and trigger alien worries that “rapidly (maximally) expansive civilizations may have a tendency to destroy other civilizations in the process, just as humanity has already destroyed many species on Earth.
“ETI that place intrinsic value on civilizations may ideally wish that our civilization changes its ways, so we can survive along with all the other civilizations. But if ETI doubt that our course can be changed, then they may seek to preemptively destroy our civilization. … 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 Earth’s atmosphere (e.g. via greenhouse gas emissions), which therefore changes the spectral signature of Earth.”
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Yes, a frightening scenario, indeed. Al Gore must feel quite vindicated. But perhaps even more frightening than the notion of aliens coming to destroy us is the fact that the study has been well received by some in the scientific community. A link to the study can found on the Cornell University library’s website as well as on the library websites of several other colleges and universities.
Far be it from me to challenge the vastly more brilliant minds of Drs. Baum, Haqq-Misra and Domagal-Goldman, but if aliens were truly concerned over our use of fossil fuels, wouldn’t the eco-friendly little green men have eliminated us when we first began using coal several hundred years ago?
Or, if these space invaders are so smart, wouldn’t they have zapped us out of existence when we first developed nuclear weapons? It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to realize that the unchecked proliferation of nukes by Earthlings isn’t apt to end well.
Wouldn’t alien energy shields — or whatever ultra-developed gadgets the ETI possess — have picked up on the additional radiation that suddenly started emanating from Earth in the 1940s?
In its defense, NASA did release statements saying that the alien invasion paper was NOT an official NASA study. But it is the second time this year the agency has had to back away from an alien-life-form study by one of its own.
In March, NASA publicly refuted claims by researcher Richard Hoover that he had found alien bacterial life in meteorites. According to Carl Pilcher, NASA Astrobiology Institute director, “There has been no one in the scientific community, certainly no one in the meteorite analysis community, that has supported these conclusions. The simplest explanation for Mr. Hoover’s measurements is that he’s measuring microbes from Earth. They’re contamination.”
Apparently Hoover has made such claims several times.
Perhaps another conclusion could be drawn from the studies: If all NASA scientists have to do these days is write preposterous papers on topics that have already been covered in B-grade science-fiction movies (“The Day the Earth Stood Still”), perhaps that once-esteemed institution should either close up shop or, better yet, instead of waiting around for aliens to find us, put the likes of Drs. Hoover and Domagal-Goldman to work sending Earthlings out to find them.