When we meet aliens, it won’t be a friendly encounter nor a conquest: it’ll be a gold rush. Can we be sure it’s ethical?

When we meet aliens, it won’t be a friendly encounter nor a conquest: it’ll be a gold rush. Can we be sure it’s ethical?

is a science writer. She actually is the Latin America correspondent for Science, and her work has additionally appeared in Wired and Slate. She lives in Mexico City.

Aeon for Friends

It wasn’t the Martians’ fault their planet died. Should they existed – once – Martians were microbes that are likely staying in a world just like our personal, warmed by an environment and crisscrossed by waterways. But Mars started to lose that atmosphere, perhaps because its gravity wasn’t strong adequate to hold into it after an asteroid impact, or maybe it was gradually blown away by solar winds. The reason is still mysterious, but the ending is obvious: Mars’s liquid water dried out or froze into ice caps, leaving life without its most precious resource. Any Martians might have been victims of a planet-wide disaster that is natural could neither foresee nor prevent.

A planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, the moral implications are clear: we should help our neighbours for Chris McKay. Earthlings may possibly not have been able to intervene when Martians were dying en masse (we had been just microbes ourselves), but now, billions of years later, we could make it as much as them. We’ve already figured out an effective solution to warm up a planet: pump greenhouse gases into its atmosphere. McKay imagines a future that is not-too-distant which we park machinery on Mars that converts carbon and fluorine within the Martian soil into insulating chlorofluorocarbons, and spews them to the planet’s puny atmosphere like a protein shake made to bulk it up. Continue reading “When we meet aliens, it won’t be a friendly encounter nor a conquest: it’ll be a gold rush. Can we be sure it’s ethical?”