Green Room

U.N. Ambassador to the Democratic People’s Republic of Alpha Centauri-stan

posted at 5:49 pm on September 27, 2010 by

This story from the U.K. Telegraph sends chills down my spine; its subhead reads:

A space ambassador could be appointed by the United Nations to act as the first point of contact for aliens trying to communicate with Earth.

I’m not frightened, I hasten to add, by the prospect of us discovering alien civilizations, or even by the prospect of alien civilizations discovering us. I’m absolutely convinced that there is no even vaguely plausible reason why extraterrestrials would care one way or the other about us, unless we somehow gave them cause for anxiety:

  • We couldn’t possibly pose a serious threat to any civilization that could cross such vast distances: A single lightyear is 5,874,589,924,200 miles, or about 25 million times the average distance from Earth to the Moon; and the distance between civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy would likely be measured in the thousands or tens of thousands of lightyears. What are we going to shoot at them — an ICBM? We’d have better luck with a pea-shooter.
  • All conceivable natural resources are widely distributed throughout the galaxy; and even if they weren’t, a civilization that could even attempt interplanetary travel, especially at hyperluminous speeds (so they’re not spending millenia on every trip), would necessarily have such advanced science and technology that it would be easier to create any needed elements, materials, and structures than to journey hundreds or thousands of lightyears to take them away from somebody else. Forget about the V scenario!
  • The distances are simply too great to bother crossing them except on very important missions involving either trade or some other equally vital cultural imperative. I doubt comparatively primitive humans qualify… except perhaps for anthropological survey missions, probably conducted by alien graduate students. (Say, maybe that explains all the UFO sightings: The kids doing the field research are not yet experienced enough to avoid detection!)
  • If there is any intelligent life at all in the galaxy apart from here, then there are likely tens of thousands of alien civilizations — not just one or two. We would probably get a minor inscription (“mostly harmless”) in a database, and that’s all.

So what am I worried about? It’s contained in that phrase I used above: ETs wouldn’t care a whit about us unless we give them cause for anxiety. And the easiest way I can think of offhand would be… if the very first point of contact for an alien survey vessel was the United Nations!

I can picture the spacefarers recoiling in horror and vowing to stamp out the contagion of socialism, pandering to radical religious imperialism, and hive-mindedness; and that is what scares the bejesus out of me.

Please, Secretary General Nanki-poo, don’t do us any more cosmic favors.

Cross-posted on Big Lizards

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What I envisioned when I read the news on this was the UN Space Alien Ambassador walking up to the landing site, holding up the Mr.Spock split fingers salute and groveling in a BarryO kinda way.

Which probably means that we’re screwed.

Or they can visit my digs, have some barbeque and some beer, watch the sunset (beautiful in Texas), and maybe sing some cowboy songs or just have a belching competition. Or both.


Robert17 on September 27, 2010 at 6:21 PM

Lets assume there is a twin of Earth that we discover on the other side of the sun or something. We cannot bring back any resources from that world for whatever reason. Private groups and governments can however make the trip there.

They are in a primitive state comparable to our bronze age on Earth. Our weapons and technology are far in advance of anything they have. Would we go? Would the neo-Nazi’s? Would Libya? What about the Scottish Socialist Party? The Scientologists? What about those who want to be a god-king, residing in a palace raised by his worshipful subjects? Washed up Hollywood actors and their retinue of bimbo’s and sycophants?

Pity those poor aliens!

sharrukin on September 27, 2010 at 6:23 PM

Stupid is dun lapping over the bowl.

tarpon on September 27, 2010 at 6:40 PM

Well, the UN will just have to take control of every country’s space program, then, right?

Including those secret surveillance satellites? Can’t hav the little green men’s spaceships running into them.

Wethal on September 27, 2010 at 7:01 PM

This is not about space aliens; it is about building the framework for global socialism.

A world government must have worldwide authority. Now the UN will claim to speak for the world. Thus the UN will need – nay, require – control over air forces, space commands, communications and surveillance satellites, and space weaponry. The world’s governments and militaries must comply with UN directives. For intergalactic peace.

lacerta on September 27, 2010 at 7:13 PM

James Taranto at Best of the Web says

The creators of “Star Trek” anticipated that problem. In a 1968 episode titled “Patterns of Force,” the Enterprise visits Ekos, a Nazi planet whose rulers are plotting genocide against the neighboring planet of Zeon. Don’t be surprised if the U.N.’s next move is to pass a resolution declaring that Zeonism is racism.

sabbahillel on September 27, 2010 at 7:52 PM

The problem will be that the aliens, when they arrive, will prefer American football. No form of UN preparation will be adequate to deal with that inevitability. In fact, if the aliens arrived right now, they’d probably care who wins tonight — Packers or Bears — and jump right into a fantasy league.

J.E. Dyer on September 27, 2010 at 9:04 PM

The creators of “Star Trek” anticipated that problem. In a 1968 episode titled “Patterns of Force,” the Enterprise visits Ekos, a Nazi planet whose rulers are plotting genocide against the neighboring planet of Zeon. Don’t be surprised if the U.N.’s next move is to pass a resolution declaring that Zeonism is racism.


KinleyArdal on September 28, 2010 at 9:53 AM

But at least Nanki-Poo ended up with Yum-Yum…

Natrium on September 28, 2010 at 2:38 PM

This has nothing to do with intelligent life in the universe as the UN would go ahead with appointing an ambassador even if it was certain there was no life whatsoever outside of Earth. This is simply another manifestation of the UN’s prime directive: Create jobs for the boys back home. Where else is the nephew of the local dictator or kleptocrat going to find work, if not at the UN?

Fred 2 on September 28, 2010 at 3:22 PM