American Elephants

If Space Aliens Don’t Work for the Economy, Maybe They’ll Work for the Greens. by The Elephant's Child

Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff and Nobel Laureate and liberal hack Paul Krugman attempted to explain recently why Keynesian economics is just the thing to revive a depressed economy.  Krugman suggested that a threat of an invasion by space aliens could spur economic activity, then when the economy got going they could say they made a mistake. His comment was meant to point out in humorous fashion that World War II, under the Roosevelt administration, succeeded in ending the Great Depression. So, you see we just need to spend a bunch more money.

Except World War II didn’t end the Great Depression. It did put people back to work. The military swept up a big chunk of young and able men, and factories of all kinds turned to producing military goods, not just for us, but for our allies as well.  Factories and shipyards were running 24/7 and people swarmed to the centers where war work was going full blast.

But there were wage and price controls. There was rationing. There were no new cars, and no gas nor tires to make them run. There were no new appliances.  Meat, sugar, butter were all rationed. There wasn’t anything much to spend money on, and constant war bond drives helped those who were working to build their savings.  When the war was over, and civilian production returned, there was a great outpouring of demand. People needed cars, appliances, everything they had gone without for five years and more.  Returning vets needed houses, new babies needed everything that new babies need.  That’s when the nation really began to recover, and it had nothing to do with John Maynard Keynes.

But as the Guardian reports, never let a good idea go to waste. Scientists at NASA’s Planetary Science Division and Pennsylvania State University suggest that space aliens might destroy humanity to protect other civilizations. If we don’t reduce our greenhouse gases, it might tip off alien civilizations what a danger we are to the universe.  They might just have to step in to take drastic action to keep us from becoming a more serious threat.

The highly speculative scenario is one that researchers compiled to help humanity prepare for actual contact.  In their report “Would contact with extraterrestrials benefit or harm humanity? A scenario analysis”  they consider  three broad categories: beneficial, neutral or harmful. [I hope that with our economy in the tank we’re not giving grants for space alien investigation.]

“Green” aliens might object to the environmental damage humans have caused on Earth and wipe us out to save the planet. “These scenarios give us reason to limit our growth and reduce our impact on global ecosystems. It would be particularly important for us to limit our emissions of greenhouse gases, since atmospheric composition can be observed from other planets,” the authors write.

Even if we never make contact with extraterrestrials, the report argues that considering the potential scenarios may help to plot the future path of human civilisation, avoid collapse and achieve long-term survival.

Are they suggesting that our carbon dioxide emissions are harming the universe? Affecting life in other galaxies?  For space alien aficionados the Guardian article is here. The picture is from Mars Attacks.

Some days it seems like we do live in an alternate universe. The stock market tanks, the unemployment rate climbs,  and the president heads off for a luxury vacation in the playground of “the rich” that he demonizes when he’s not vacationing among them.   Strange, strange, strange.


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