Monday, July 8, 2013

Mankind: the Plague of the Universe?

In recent news, we’ve discovered the star Gliese 667C. Apparently, three of the seven planets in this system may hold the potential for life-sustaining atmospheres. How exciting! Confusing as it may be, the sun is only a third the size of ours with a luminosity of about 2% compared to our own, and yet the planets are up to eight times the mass of Earth! Craziness.

The system is approximately 130 trillion miles away from us, and that is a notable distance to say the least. Nevertheless, the idea invokes images of sci-fi storylines, most recently that of Wall-E - the worst $21 I have ever spent at the theater. People close to me can’t even contain themselves from discussing the inevitable topic of relocating the population. Given the recent spat of sinkholes, earthquakes, tornados and the like, one has to wonder if we really did a number on the Earth. And if so, do we follow Pixar in their ingenious template of space travel while we leave an army of roombots to clean up after us?

While the whole notion is preposterous, and some may claim is not even worth the breath to discuss it, I would have to disagree. And I would also have to favor the idea of staying put.

Let’s just say, for arguments sake, that we do figure out that one of the dozen planets we’ve discovered in the last decade out in the far reaches of space can in fact support our species. And then let’s say that we were able to build a vessel large enough to support a large portion of our population and powerful enough to take us out to Gliese 667. Heck, let’s even say we built a modern arc to transport our favorite cuddly critters so we can simulate Earth on the big ol’ rock. Let’s even say we found a planet that isn’t tidally locked so we can spread out across the entire face of New Gaia. I would still stay put, and with every ounce of myself urge the rest of the population to stay as well. Because if we did hop on the giant spaceship, we’d have to name it the USS Death Star, both as a nod to both nerd populations on board as well as to capture the essence of our new existence.

We have seen countless numbers of movies, both good and bad, of aliens coming to absorb the resources of our planet only to move on to the next planet, with a seemingly insatiable appetite for the planetary good stuff. Call it the scourge of the cosmos, or the plague of the universe, (or even Galactus if you so fancy) but whatever it is, it is bad news. And we as America (and other cooperating nations, which only play a supporting role at best, because, well, you know, we’re America) have to defend ourselves and defeat them for the good of the next planet as much as our own! Hoorah!

Except that in a Twilight Zone-worthy twist, it turns out we are the Great Plague. We used up our home planet and now must support our species at any cost, for we are everything, we are paramount, supreme in nature. Right? Isn’t that what our history tells us about ourselves? It would be planetary colonization. And as much as I would like to believe that we would learn from our mistakes and magically value life and finite resources, again, we need only look to our history. We do not learn. We innovate. We find new ways to do old things, especially when it comes to violence.

So now that we are the “little green men” descending down upon a peaceful race, how do you feel about it? Anyone up for a marathon of Sci-Fi movies? Only one person needs to volunteer to be typist. The rest of us can digest their tactics and use our imagination for humankind’s first prototype of the World Engine.

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