Last week the UK’s Sunday Times reported that the United Nations had appointed Earth's first planetary ambassador to facilitate “official” contact in the event of extra terrestrial communication or visitation. The U.N.’s selection was Malaysian astrophysicist Mazlan Othman, who heads the UN's Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA); a branch of the General Assembly, established in 1962. The office is responsible for promoting international co-operation and peace in dealing with outer space, and includes topics such as satellite navigation and space debris. During a talk Othman had previously given to fellow scientists, she said:
"The continued search for extraterrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that some day humankind will receive signals from extraterrestrials. When we do, we should have in place a coordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject. The UN is a ready-made mechanism for such coordination."
Shortly after the story broke, professor Othman denied the appointment. In an email from Othman herself, she is quoted as saying: "It sounds really cool but I have to deny it." According to the Sunday Times, Othman was expected to tell an upcoming Royal Society conference that as the detection of extraterrestrial life is more likely than ever, the UN needs to be ready to co-ordinate humanity's response.
In the same week, Senate Bill 3729, the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, has passed the House (YEA 304; NAY 118), funding NASA for another three years, per president Obama’s signature. Long time space exploration enthusiast Rick Tumlinson, co-Founder of the Space Frontier Foundation, is quoted as saying: "Getting NASA back to exploring the Far Frontier of space from the Moon outward and allowing the private sector to take over the now relatively routine job of carrying people and payloads in the Near Frontier is exactly the right way to proceed as we move into the 21st century.”
Also in the same week… astronomers from the University of California and the Carnegie Institution of Washington reported that a recently discovered planet Gliese 581g can support life. Steven Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC says that the planet is potentially habitable… a number of species of bacteria found on earth could survive and flourish on it... One scientist has even gone so far as to speculate the odds of life existing on 581g are "one-hundred percent".
It is strange to see this much media coverage, being generated by the mainstream scientific and political community, concerning so many aspects of extra terrestrial contact. It is even stranger to see these very reputable organizations treat what once was a “fringe topic” with genuine and pragmatic consideration. In one week we have seen diplomacy, economy and last but not least… probability… of extra terrestrial contact taken very seriously by those who only a few years ago found the subject laughable.
The various scenarios wherein a government or group of governments announces to the world the existence of life outside of earth’s gravity well have been commonly described by those interested in such things as “Disclosure.” There are many connotations associated with this term. One important aspect of disclosure is the concern over “collective trauma” of the general public in reaction to such an announcement. It has been postulated, by the above mentioned organizations (and others), that humanity as a whole could not take the shock of the knowledge of life beyond our planet. Apparently, the political “powers that be” are concerned that such a disclosure would bring into question the very fabric of humanity’s world view. They are afraid that the public may lose their faith in their religious beliefs and institutions, or worse… lose faith in their political systems.
In regard to the last concern… it is too late. The reality is that blind faith in earth’s political systems is already long gone.
The interesting question becomes… what will an exo-political world look like? Would the definitive discovery of bacterial life on other planets such as Gliese 581g be a planetary game-changer for humanity’s collective conscious? Once it is determined that life… any form of life… is present elsewhere in universe, everything changes. The moment we know that we are not alone… universe becomes a reality that is teaming with life. It does not matter if our neighbors are a simple bacteria or almond eyed humanoids… if life exists elsewhere… it exists everywhere.
It is understandable that the political powers that be are concerned. The rascally tricks that they have used for centuries to keep the masses under control will no longer apply. The old party lines designed to keep us asleep and dreaming, the old “pie in the sky, bye and bye” will no longer stand up under the scrutiny of a life-filled universe. Even the Vatican is beginning to test the waters of acknowledging the existence of life elsewhere in the cosmos.
In these exciting and changing times, we must remember that it is the nature of politicians (of all types) to follow. We should not expect them to lead, as historically politicians react to changing conditions after the political dust has cleared. Leadership must come from us… individuals with the ability to grasp evolving realities and respond accordingly. Remember… in an evolving universe, he who stands still… moves backward!
Note: In regard to first contact… the Hedonic Engineering Department @ Tek-Gnostics has compiled a brief position paper entitled: