I have presented many reasons for why an extraterrestrial civilization may not want to contact humans. One of them is an old idea, made popular in TV show Star Trek: the Prime Directive. The concept is simple: don’t use your advanced technology to influence a developing civilization. Any alien civilization capable of traveling to our solar system would have technology far more advanced than ours. If they introduced us to alien science, religion and philosophy, we would not develop in the same way as we would if we made our own scientific discoveries and had our own cultural evolutions. Even worse, with our scientific muscles taken out of action, we would not truly be developing our own science. At some point, without alien assistance, we could be helpless.
Visiting aliens with a concern for such matters would have a few options when coming to our solar system. They could avoid us entirely, or perhaps just watch from afar. If they did decide to make contact with humans they could simply say hello and very little else. They may also be able to share their own history, without giving up scientific principles. There are risks involved for the aliens. If you can’t share much with humans, you could just end up making us mad.
Why would aliens even bother? The best reason to say hello could be to give us a nudge in the right direction. The human civilization is fragile. There are many ways we could falter and die-off. Some of those ways are natural disasters, such as a massive meteorite hitting the Earth or a gigantic volcanic eruption. Global warming is our own doing. Scientists have shown that through fossil fuel emissions we are creating greenhouse gases. Those gases are altering our atmosphere and the effects could be dramatic in coming years. And yet we have done little to act. There is still a great debate. It’s hard to ask people to sacrifice now for a problem that won’t fully impact us for another few decades.
We could really use a nudge.
I know that’s a lot to ask of extraterrestrials. But it could be a unifying moment for humanity. If outsiders viewed our situation as dire, then perhaps we would finally take action. Is that interference that would violate the Prime Directive? Perhaps. The best solution for solving global warming will be our own. But a nudge doesn’t have to give us the solution. It could merely point out the problem. Could we handle such a thing? Would we be incensed to know that critical aliens have the knowledge to solve our problems, but refuse to do so for our own good? Perhaps. But a kick in the pants can sometimes go a long way. I think we would eventually be able to understand the alien reasoning and be at peace with the decision, and hopefully with a better atmospheric outlook to show for it.