November 25, 2011

The paper never mentions how interstellar travel could actually work. Humans have a pretty good idea of how to cross interstellar space; it is something theoretically possible with current technology. It involves building really enormous objects; things the size of aircraft carriers or much larger. It also involves spraying radioactive waste all over the place. Launching such things into orbit, even with chemical rockets, pollutes the atmosphere. So does building things the size of aircraft carriers. It has been speculated that a really advanced spacefaring race would build giant space elevators or enclose the sun in a Dyson sphere rather than relying on rockets, but such ideas do not seem real Gaia-friendly to me. Yet the fellows who wrote this bit of speculation seem to think our hypothetical race of fastidious space aliens are willing to commit interstellar genocide because we have too many Buick farts in our atmosphere.

Putting aside the actual physics of space flight, we presently know things about spacefaring races such as the Russians and the Chinese. They don’t tend to be too concerned about sustainability or how much SUV stink is in the atmosphere. By contrast, America is now a land run by gruesome risk-averse “diversity” ninnies like these hypothetical environmentalist aliens. Since such spiritless geldings took over the management of the planet’s most technologically advanced nation, we’ve consistently failed at manned space exploration. Why would an alien race with such an inward-looking philosophy develop space flight? Why would they develop planet-destroying technology? How would they actually get here? Will these super-advanced beings cross the enormity of interstellar space using good intentions and non-polluting pixie dust?

It is possible I am experiencing a failure of imagination by constraining myself with the known laws of physics and observations about human culture. Maybe our hypothetical environmentalist godlike aliens will develop pixie-dust death-ray technology. It is a much smaller intellectual leap to suppose that aliens able to violate the known laws of physics might have rather different psychological makeups from SWPL academic ticks. Your average Xhosa tribesman (or even your average Mexican cabdriver) thinks differently from the soy-latte-and-Prius crowd, even though they share the same basic biological heritage. Wouldn’t chlorine-breathing octopus creatures able to violate the laws of physics be even more psychologically different? It seems to me they would be, well, even more alien than world-sick creeps who wish electric death on the environmentally unaware. My own pet theory is that when the space-jockeying cephalopods show up, they’ll inform us that Lemmy of Motörhead is our most spiritually advanced human being. Crossing the vastness of space to smoke methedrine and leer at sleazy women with Lemmy makes about as much sense to me as the idea that aliens with godlike powers are genocidally concerned that we are not recycling our coffee grounds properly.

I think that paper would be appropriate for an obscure blog post or an article in a science-fiction fanzine. But I don’t think anyone on the public dole should publish such silliness, nor should they expect us to pay for “peer-reviewed” nonsense. Keep this paper in mind the next time your old university rings you up for a handout or some creep tries to frighten you with horror stories about the defunding of scientific research. A great deal of “scientific research” consists of welfare for people who should be engaged in productive private-sector work repairing computers or picking potatoes.



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