As was widely reported in the news today, London an Anglo-German team of astronomers have discovered a new planet orbiting a nearby sun at just the right distance for an Earth-like climate that could support life. And life as we know it- or at least, intelligent, sentient life, rather than a space amoeba. The planet is at a distance from the star in an area known as the Goldilocks zone after the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears; a distance where, like Goldilocks’ sampling of the bears’ bowls of porridge, it’s neither too hot, nor too cold, but just right. Just right for liquid water to exist on the planet (our planet is made up of two thirds surface water).
The sun for this planet, Star HD40307, is a relatively stable and old dwarf star that has been beaming life-evolving warmth and solar energy for many millions of years down to the one of three planets found in the perfect position. It’s also revolving, which is a good sign- meaning that most of the planet’s surface will receive light and warmth some of the time- in other words it has days and nights.
This tremendously exciting discovery led me to ask a question. Perhaps to the German and UK governments of the scientists that made the find… but in fact to the body representing a number of nations- the United Nations. My question is- do we have a plan, a protocol, even a representative appointed, to represent the interests of the entire planet, if and when we meet other intelligent life, perhaps on this planet, HD40307g? Do we have a set of responses ready or will it be all a panic when we get a first communication?
While you may think there is a lot more to think about in these times of global economic woe, the potential risks and opportunities that open up when contact is made with an alien intelligent species should be considered. Not least, would the UN be able to act on behalf of all its nations, or would certain nations want to make secret negotiations with an alien race to gain an earthly economic advantage, or to try religious conversion. Big stuff. May not happen in our lifetimes, but with the discovery of a earth-like planet, it’s much more likely that this will happen within the next few decades or centuries. Will the UN be ready to act on our behalves?