If aliens are watching our antics on climate change from afar they can surely only conclude that our species is collectively insane…
Report to the Galactic Accession Committee, from the Chief Anthropologist
Background – we have been observing the planet known to its inhabitants as ‘Earth’ for many orbits around its star (in the common fashion these are called ‘years’). The dominant species call themselves ‘humans’ and have been through the discovery of carbon-based fuels, nuclear energy, radio communications and renewable energy. They have begun rudimentary local spaceflight.
Current status – one can only conclude that this species is suffering from some kind of collective insanity. Consider the evidence:
Unrestrained use of fossil fuels has driven a greenhouse effect which is severely damaging the planet’s nature, affecting the humans’ economy and killing millions of them a year. Humans have known for 50 of their years that this climate change is an existential danger to their civilisation and nature on the planet. They agreed collective action over 30 years ago and have met almost every year since to review progress, yet emissions of the gases which drive climate change have continued to increase in almost every year and the average planetary temperature continues to rise.
Their scientists have identified a threshold for temperature rise that should not be crossed (1.5ºC in their units) and all state entities have apparently agreed to try not to breach this threshold, yet it will be exceeded in less than 10 years at current rates of emissions. Officially they predict the planet is on track to reach 3ºC in the next 60 years but our projections suggest the final temperature rise will be rather more.
Most of their largest corporate entities are producers of fossil fuels but rather than scaling back and being replaced by clean energy producers, they plan to produce even more fossil fuels in future and are currently seeing record financial benefits from their activities.
These same corporate entities accurately predicted the climate change that they would cause but concealed this information and actively created disinformation campaigns to mislead the planet’s inhabitants. They are now making obviously false claims about speculative technologies that could never be enough to address the problem. A further indication of the puzzling nature of this species, is that no company or individual has ever been punished for these deceptions.
Humans know how to make very energy efficient buildings, create mass transport systems, produce zero-carbon energy and manage land to reduce carbon emissions but mostly they choose not to.
And all this is despite the obvious warning from their sunward sister planet, known to them as Venus, which they have known for more than 50 years is the victim of a runaway greenhouse effect.
Recommendation – we judge that intervention would not be helpful at this stage given the serious lack of maturity exhibited by this species, better to wait and see if humans can come to their senses and rescue their planet from disaster. If not, we will need to wait a significant fraction of a galactic rotation for another dominant species to achieve sufficient technological advancement to be considered for membership of the Galactic Federation.
A version of this blog was published in the Scotsman newspaper on 9th February 2023.
Image generated by Midjourney.