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Ending the Search for Intelligent Life on Earth

May 25, 2016

(Planet Xi) Scientists at the Extraterrestrial Research Center (ERC) announced today that they have indefinitely suspended their surveillance of radio signals from a D7-class planet in the R3231 solar system, which is located a mere 41 light-years from Xi. The news caught the scientific community by surprise. ERC’s president, Rxiyn123, said the decision “was not taken lightly.”

Twenty-five years ago, ERC stunned Xi when it disclosed that it had been secretly monitoring radio signals from the planet over a period of approximately two years and had concluded that “Earth,” as its inhabitants commonly refer to it, was the “best prospect yet” in the organization’s 1800-year quest for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.

Rxiyn123 said, “I cannot tell you how very disappointed we are. Earth is our closest known cousin. It orbits a star much like our own and the planet, in many respects, is nearly identical to Xi. Initial observations of the planet undertaken by ERC’s interstellar observatory revealed a planet whose physical makeup had an uncanny resemblance to our own. And when we were able after years of analysis to decipher the communications from Earth, we were cautiously optimistic about the prospects for intelligent life. But the latest communications, I am afraid, have removed all doubt: It’s a false positive.”

In the course of its centuries-long search for intelligent life on other planets, ERC researchers have intercepted radio signals from 33 planets, but in each case the radio signals eventually went silent. “The potential for intelligent life,” Rxiyn123 said, “certainly exists in the universe, but it appears that most advanced life forms reach a critical point in their development ...and then fail for some reason. Such now appears to be the case on Earth.”

In making today’s announcement, Rxiyn123 stressed, however, that the signals being received from Earth had not stopped. Indeed, the volume of transmissions from Earth continues to increase across all spectra. “It’s not the quantity of transmissions,” Rixyn123 said, “It’s the content. The initial transmissions that we received from Earth offered a mixed, but encouraging, picture. Humans, the dominant life-form on Earth, had determined that human-activity was harming the biosphere, and it appeared that some form of concerted action would be taken to address climate change and other threats to the planet.”

“The latest transmissions,” Rxiyn123 stressed, “present a much different picture. Communications recently received from a group of over 1,000 scientists attending a global forum on Earth warned that adverse environmental changes were sweeping the planet, but their warnings appear to have fallen on deaf ears. It appears that little or nothing is being done by the planet’s political leadership.”

“Even more disturbing,” Rxiyn123 said, “is that the human political discourse on Earth, which once showed some promise, has gone in reverse. It’s really shocking. We cannot believe what we are hearing. It’s like the evolution of the dominant species on Earth has gone into reverse. Primitive is the only way to describe it.”

When asked whether ERC would re-open its investigation of Earth-based transmissions in the near future, Rxiyn123 said, “I seriously doubt it. Self-awareness and the capacity to communicate across interstellar distances are important attributes, but they do not add up to intelligent life, as we define that term. It is not enough to recognize that you are doing harm to your planet and your own species, you have to be able to act upon that knowledge and correct the problems that you are creating. On any planet, that’s the acid test of intelligence. Otherwise, you are on the fast track to extinction.


This op-ed by Population Institute President Robert Walker originally ran on May 25, 2016 on The Huffington Post

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