Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Picking on Peckman

Will the city of Denver undertake what the United States government and the United Nations have not dared do publicly – start a rational, transparent process in preparation for the possibility of First Contact? Folks in the Mile High City have been the subject of plenty of ridicule for this proposal, as reported in the Los Angeles Times:

Forget sky-high unemployment and those two wars overseas. Jeff Peckman has more earthly concerns: for one thing, if extraterrestrials were to descend on Denver, what's the best way to welcome them?

Thanks to Peckman's tireless efforts and taste for the limelight, Denver voters will be asked in 2010 to boldly approve what no electorate has approved before: an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission.

This week, Denver officials announced that Peckman had gathered about 4,000 valid signatures needed to place the issue before the 350,000 registered voters of the Colorado state capital.

If approved, the city panel would promote "harmonious, peaceful, mutually respectful and beneficial coexistence" between earthlings and extraterrestrials, in part by developing protocols for "diplomatic contact."

Peckman is a bit weird. He reports seeing a UFO shooting through the sky on the day Michael Jackson died. He also wants this Denver commission to interview victims of alleged alien abduction. Fine…so he’s a bit out there. How much money would it cost to run such a commission? It could be an all volunteer body. How much money would it cost to have similar volunteer commissions at the federal and international level? A group of prestigious scientists gathering to discuss issues of extraterrestrial First Contact, for the United States and for the United Nations, would be an important step in the right direction. We do need protocol for “diplomatic contact.” I agree, we shouldn’t be spending a lot of money on such an unlikely possibility. I would imagine that you could gather volunteers for such a commission and more importantly volunteers with credentials.

Such a group already convenes in the Contact: Cultures of the Imagination conference. The group of scientists, journalists and science fiction writers is meeting again in March, and while the focus is much more than just the possibilities of extraterrestrial life and intelligence, it is a science based meeting that investigates the future of humanity, on many fronts.

The Denver initiative will most likely be shot down. The idea is still a good one. Let’s take it out of the realm of strange personalities and fringe groups and start a global discussion about our future. And who knows, one day Mr. Peckman may go down in history books as one of those souls who marched just a few steps ahead of reality.

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