Buried somewhere in the massive pile of headlines about civilization-changing events taking place in 2020 was a little nugget which barely registered yet would have most likely dominated discourse in any other year: The Pentagon fessed up that it does indeed have a unit devoted to studying UFOs despite denying that fact repeatedly for many, many years.
Shockingly, it also suggested that it had in its possession “vehicles” which it classified as having been made “off planet.” The unusual choice of words was especially striking.
Whether this revelation is true, false, or simply misleading, contemplating the arrival of an extraterrestrial species to our humble blue planet is always an interesting mental, emotional, and spiritual exercise. It changes our perspectives on so many levels, so instantaneously.
But for me, what would be most interesting of all is that humans would finally have a true, bona fide predator on the planet; something we haven’t had to deal with in a long, long time.
We would finally get a taste of what it feels like to be a member of any and all of the earth’s other species.
We’ll assume these extraterrestrials’ overall superiority to us based simply on the fact that they found us before we found them. Yet even if they come in a spirit of peace, they probably are, as we would be, bound to make mistakes, errors in understanding and judgement, and perhaps lack subtlety in their concern for the most intimate details and struggles of our individual human lives. This would generally leave us, however privately, feeling under constant threat and absolutely terrified of them, even if they revealed themselves to be extremely well-intentioned.
I imagine it would be reasonably acceptable to them if many of us were displaced by them. And as long as a decent percentage of us remained alive, they could probably justify some degradation in the quality of human life of earth, as well as a modest reduction in our global population. We’d simply be a population and a species to be managed. They’d run the numbers, make models, form strategic management plans, and aim for the best results and outcomes possible. As intelligent and compassionate as their efforts might be, some percentage of us would have to be reasonably and fairly considered… expendable.
And I imagine at least some of them would argue that perhaps they should just let nature take its course; if humans are so primitive and incompetent that they never devised a way to escape their own planet or otherwise evolved to defend themselves against this eventuality (as they apparently had), well… then maybe humans just weren’t meant to be.
Yet even in the best case scenario where the extraterrestrials are not overtly hostile, and even friendly and compassionate towards us, we still must fundamentally fear their technological superiority. Because with it comes an ability to unleash horrors on the planet which are inconceivable to us, and perhaps even to them as well.
Maybe it would be a form of radiation to which they are immune, but would accidentally destroy our reproductive ability completely. Or maybe it would be some gaseous, airborne byproduct of their technology which is instantly lethal to humans even while their lungs can easily process it. Maybe they’d never considered those types of consequences. Maybe they don’t even have lungs.
Thankfully, we can take some comfort in the thought that if it turns out that extraterrestrials really have been stealthily visiting earth all of this time, then at least some of the tabloid-fodder UFO stories of the modern era might actually have been true all along. Maybe they really have been sneaking into peoples’ bedrooms and abducting them at night. If so, they probably have a decent stock of captive humans which they could use to reestablish the human species in the event of total catastrophe they unleashed on us by accident. Maybe some of their top minds, if they even have minds, would be willing to experiment with reintroducing us as a population on their planet.
Far fetched as it sounds, this fantastical scenario is strangely familiar to anyone who knows the history of the earth’s fastest animal, the peregrine falcon. It is essentially what happened to them along the east coast of the US. While trying to get rid of mosquitoes along the coast, humans accidentally decimated most species of raptors. The poison DDT was considered a marvel of our technology until we noticed the sudden and extreme collapse of raptor populations it was causing. While osprey, bald eagles, and northern harriers were all hit hard, none was hit quite as hard as the eastern peregrine falcon. The entire population along the east coast was inadvertently eradicated.
As with our theoretical, well intentioned but technologically overwhelming extraterrestrials, we too did fortunately happen to have a small stock of the vanquished species remaining in captivity. So some smart, compassionate humans decided to right the wrong by taking birds from falconers, breeding them in captivity, and reintroducing them to the wild.
One of the most famous places this occurred was along the coast in Brigantine, New Jersey. A huge tower was built in the marsh and some young peregrines established there. While breeding peregrine weren’t known to be native to the coast, it was a convenient spot: they would have good access to food (small birds) and scientists would have good access to them.
It was a bold experiment. It was risky and it was difficult. But it worked. It is why we have peregrine at all today.
But as it turns out, accidentally destroying a population, then course correcting, and then reestablishing it from captive stock is actually the easy part. The hard part comes later. When you’re successful.
Would the extraterrestrials be wise enough to think it all the way through? To imagine what the world will look like when their efforts are an astounding success? Will they have a plan for this second phase of our recovery?
Because there will come a day when the extraterrestrials suddenly start to notice there are more humans around. And that those humans have needs, and use resources, and cause conflicts, and that they need to share and compromise with them. That’s when they will remember, “They don’t belong here. They aren’t even from here. They belong back on Earth.”
That’s when we will be relocated.
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