Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Discovery has a theory as to why we haven’t discovered evidence of intelligent alien civilisations; According to Discovery, the handful of planets which have just the right characteristics for life to thrive, are eventually destroyed by a technological environmental cataclysm.
Why Can’t We Find Aliens? Climate Change Killed Them
As we look deeper into our galaxy for signs of extraterrestrial life, we keep drawing a blank. Does this mean life on Earth is unique and we’re the only ones out here? Or could it just mean that all the aliens are dead?
“The universe is probably filled with habitable planets, so many scientists think it should be teeming with aliens,” said Aditya Chopra, lead author of the paper. “Early life is fragile, so we believe it rarely evolves quickly enough to survive.”
“Most early planetary environments are unstable. To produce a habitable planet, life forms need to regulate greenhouse gases such as water and carbon dioxide to keep surface temperatures stable,” he said.
But now we have an intelligent lifeform that emerged as a dominant force, interrupting and exploiting our planet’s natural cycles. Humanity has inadvertently created a new bottleneck — let’s call it the “Industrial Bottleneck” — by causing irreversible changes to our delicate biosphere. Now, we’re seeing rapid impacts on our civilization as the balance in our climate is knocked off-kilter by the inexorable rise of greenhouse gases from industrial processes and energy needs.
Are these bottlenecks common throughout the cosmos? If an extraterrestrial lifeform “makes the grade” and survives the Gaian Bottleneck, does it then face another existential threat from their evolution into a industrial civilisation?
For now, this is all speculation, but what’s clear from observations of our own planet, is that the mother of all existential self-inflicted bottlenecks is on the horizon and, unless we find a way of reversing the damage we’ve caused to our environment, it seems we’ll quickly become just another lifeform that didn’t make the grade.
Read more: http://news.discovery.com/space/alien-life-exoplanets/why-cant-we-find-aliens-climate-change-killed-them-160121.htm
There’s evidence that intelligence is rare, either that or they are doing a very good job of hiding themselves. If even one other intelligence arose in our Galaxy at least half a million years ago, then where are they?.
However, a hypothesis of fiery death through technological climate apocalypse simply doesn’t make sense. In a few decades, a century at most, mankind will have the engineering capability to adjust the global thermostat to whatever we want, by pumping aerosols into the upper atmosphere, installing orbital mirrors, nuclear fusion powered heaters, or through advanced technologies we simply haven’t considered yet. I’m sure we can think of circumstances which would prevent aliens following the same technological path to greater control of their environment, but surely such circumstances would be special cases, not generally applicable?
My theory is that intelligent aliens, if they exist, are difficult to find, because they mostly end up abandoning the real world. Their computer games become so compelling, so immersive, the intelligences which created them simply don’t bother with physical reality anymore.
Our society has already seen the emergency of video game addiction. How bad will such addiction problems be, when the VR is piped directly into your brain, through a neural interface, and computer generated game reality is utterly indistinguishable from physical reality? Except of course, in the computer generated universe you are a superhero or a god, or whatever other character takes your fancy?