“What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?” ― Henry David Thoreau
Little “Green” Men may be a misnomer. Of all our speculations regarding the nature of extraterrestrial intelligence, perhaps the most ill-founded is the notion that any species sufficiently advanced enough to cross the universe in search of chotchkies would be deeply concerned with ecological impacts. This would seem to fly in the face of the evidence that the smarter we get, the better we are at wrecking our environment. It would be more logical to conclude that the average planet-hopping alien would actually place less value on any specific biosphere, since if they messed up one ecosystem, they could always move on to a fresh new one. Yet UFO literature and science fiction are replete with instances of self-righteous E.T.’s warning us that if we don’t get our act together and behave like proper environmentalists we are both ensuring our own extinction, and guaranteeing that nobody in the galactic neighborhood will want to play with us. This message appears with alarming frequency from those claiming to have chatted with interstellar tourists, such as Former Canadian Defense Minister Paul Hellyer, who in 2014 not only stated that benevolent aliens are real and have been visiting Earth for thousands of years, but also that they are refusing to share advanced technology with us until we shape up and stop all our warring and polluting. This is obviously a dodge to prevent us from competing fairly in the galactic economy, and ensure the cost of terrestrial imports stays low, since we can find a disturbing number of UFO encounters that suggest these crafty extraterrestrials are wholly unconcerned with how they themselves mangle our environment.
Theorists at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics are reportedly getting bored looking for habitable planets out there in the universe, since the mere fact of being earth-like doesn’t tell us much about the quality of organisms we’ll encounter. Let’s admit the fact that we are so prepared to find biological life elsewhere in the universe that it would be a major disappointment if all we can discover are bacteria and slime molds. Let’s not even talk about cannibalistic galactic super villains. We’re looking for species of character, by which we generally mean sentient creatures just like us. Yes, it would be cool if they’re furry or dinosaurs, but the truth is we’re just looking for someone with similar interests to talk to. Thus it is unsurprising that those big-brained Ivy League astrophysicists are now suggesting that we scan the heavens for planets that are not just earth-like, but which show evidence of industrial pollution. You know, just like we would look to someone with a telescope in Tau Ceti. We want to meet some litterers.
Now I’m not talking about the occasional crash landing of a flying saucer that strews debris across acres of remote scrubland. That’s just an aviation accident. Nor am I thinking of more spectacular catastrophes such as the Tungaska Incident. Those would seem to be outlying instances where something has simply gone horribly wrong. There is ample evidence that alien visitors are often unabashed polluters, thoughtlessly tromping on our crops and dumping all manner of hazardous wastes into our natural environment, irradiating things, and generally wreaking havoc in the biosphere. Consider the classic example of Maracaibo, Venezuela in 1886, as detailed by the then U.S. Consular Repesentative Warner Cowgill in a letter printed at the time in the nice, reputable journal Scientific American. Of course, they didn’t really talk about unidentified flying objects at the time per se, but the incident has long been equated with modern UFO encounters, including the unfortunate destruction of the surrounding forest and radiation poisoning of the locals.
To the Editor of the Scientific American: The following brief account of a recent strange meteorological occurrence may be of interest to your readers as an addition to the list of electrical eccentricities:
During the night of the 24th of October last, which was rainy and tempestuous, a family of nine persons, sleeping in a hut a few leagues from Maracaibo, were awakened by a loud humming noise and a vivid, dazzling light, which brilliantly illuminated the interior of the house.
The occupants completely terror stricken, and believing, as they relate, that the end of the world had come, threw themselves on their knees and commenced to pray, but their devotions were almost immediately interrupted by violent vomitings, and extensive swellings commenced to appear in the upper part of their bodies, this being particularly noticeable about the face and lips.
It is to be noted that the brilliant lights was not accompanied by a sensation of heat, although there was a smoky appearance and a peculiar smell.
The next morning, the swellings had subsided, leaving upon the face and body large black blotches. No special pain was felt until the ninth day, when the skin peeled off, and these blotches were transformed into virulent raw sores.
The hair of the head fell off upon the side which happened to be underneath when the phenomenon occurred, the same side of the body being , in all nine cases, the more seriously injured.
The remarkable part of the occurrence is that the house was uninjured, all doors and windows being closed at the time.
No trace of lightning could afterward by observed in any part of the building, and all the sufferers unite in saying that there was no detonation, but only the loud humming already mentioned.
Another curious attendant circumstance is that the trees around the house showed no signs of injury until the ninth day, when they suddenly withered, almost simultaneously with the development of the sores upon the bodies of the occupants of the house.
This is perhaps a mere coincidence, but it is remarkable that the same susceptibility to electrical effects, with the same lapse of time, should be observed in both animal and vegetable organisms.
I have visited the sufferers, who are now in one of the hospitals of this city; and although their appearance is truly horrible, yet it is hoped that in no case will the injuries prove fatal – Warner Cowgill. U.S. Consulate, Maracaibo, Venezuela November 17, 1886 (Scientific American, November 26, 1886).
It sounds like our extraterrestrial visitors need to dump a bit of highly radioactive waste. Tossed it out the back of the saucer, and went merrily on their way. Of course, this could also have been the result of an extremely environmentally unfriendly propulsion system, assuming we wanted to give them the benefit of a doubt. You don’t have to look very hard to find instances of radiation poisoning or toxic waste dumping associated with UFOs. But then we are faced with explaining occurrences such as the 1947 Maury Island UFO sighting where a close associate of Fred Crisman named Harold Dahl was interviewed by the famous Kenneth Arnold (the guy who started the whole modern “flying saucer” thing), and reported watching a doughnut-shaped craft dump piles of slaglike material on the beach of Maury Island, Washington in Puget Sound. The U.S. Air Force’s Project Blue Book later declared this an utter hoax along with every other UFO ever seen, so let’s take that with a grain of swamp gas. Author Michael Crichton once proposed that global warming is caused by aliens, and climatologist Roy W. Spencer suspected he was right, reporting that between 1979-2011, increases in monthly UFO reports were highly correlated with increases in global ocean temperatures (you can actually look at a spreadsheet of his data at Spencer UFO-Ocean Temp Data – Excel).
Aliens always seem to be tossing stuff overboard as if they think the Earth is some kind of convenient garbage dump. John Keel came to this conclusion when describing incidents in the Point Pleasant, West Virginia area while investigating a tightly packed ball of finely cut, and highly radioactive metal foil that crashed to earth in front of an unfortunate family. He explicitly posed the question, “Are UFOs Using the Earth for a Garbage Dump”?
A large quantity of the stuff has been found spread across several acres of farmland on the Sand Road in Point Pleasant, W. Va., in November 1966. Dozens of UFO sightings and several brief landings had been reported in that immediate area. Additional samples had turned up in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, New Hampshire, and several other spots where UFO sightings were especially intense. All of the samples were identical…very short (about two inches long) strips of shiny, silvery tinsel slightly wider than ordinary steel wool. In West Virginia they called this substance “outer space grass”, and in some places disgruntled farmers had to shovel it up before they could proceed with their spring plowing. It has a tendency to mat into clumps and fall in concentrated masses. Usually, it was found after one of those mysterious bobbing white and red lights had slowly and silently passed over (Keel, 1967).
This has led me to conclusion that all this supposed extraterrestrial environmentalism is the equivalent of the United States telling China to stop burning coal. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s probably a good idea if the human race enjoys the benefits of breathing, drinking clean water, and not sweltering at a balmy global average temperature just shy of hell, but one can see why the condemnation is met with a bit of disdain. If we truly want to cut down on carbon emissions worldwide, we would probably be best served by developing, sharing, and subsidizing cleaner technologies for developing nations. The same goes for those obnoxious aliens. If they’re so smart and so concerned with our environmental awareness, why don’t they drop by and share some of that superior technology and help us clean things up a bit or do things in a more ecologically-friendly way in the first place. So next time an alien tells you that we need to take care of nature or we can’t have any of his magical goodies, kick him in the shins. He’s just going to pontificate, dump some radioactive waste, and head back into the depths of space, laughing all the way. You see, that’s the problem with aliens. They’re not from around here.
Keel, John A. “Are UFOs Using the Earth as a Garbage Dump?”. Flying Saucers: UFO Reports, #4, Dell Publishing,1967.