Please stop us before we destroy the planet!

So here I am doing the finishing touches on my fall course, "Science Fiction Cinema and Social Criticism," when along come this story from The Guardian: "Aliens may destroy humanity to protect other civilizations, scientists say."

"Rising greenhouse emissions could tip off aliens that we are a rapidly expanding threat, warns a report."

This is  the basic story line from a whole host of 1950s science fiction movies, including "The Day the Earth Stood Still," the one I'll be showing in class.  Back then, of course, the threat that bothered the alien visitors was annihilation through nuclear holocaust.  Today's scenario, revised and updated by a group of scientists from Penn State University, focuses upon possible extraterrestrial concerns about what green house gases are doing to the planet.  

"Watching from afar, extraterrestrial beings might view changes in Earth's atmosphere as symptomatic of a civilisation growing out of control – and take drastic action to keep us from becoming a more serious threat, the researchers explain."

Reading the Guardian story made me laugh out loud, both for its way of presenting global climate crash and for its echoes of the sci-fi stories and movies of my youth.  It's hard to tell from the actual report, “Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis,” whether the writers are fully serious or just having a good time speculating about some ghastly possibilities.  

Klaatu barada nikto
   ...and a Happy New Year!



Contest: Suggest a new name for Glacier Park

As a little boy in the middle 1950s , I visited Glacier Park with my parents who'd grown up in Montana and knew terrain well.  There were a good many glaciers back then, definitely an impressive sight.  It was a thrill to able to walk on the massive sheets of ice.  Alas,  today's New York Times reports that there are few glaciers left and that all of them will be gone by 2020.

As the U.S.A. prepares for this sad milestone, it's time to think of  a new name for the place.  Perhaps the  federal park system could hold a contest, soliciting ideas from concerned citizens.  To start the ball rolling, here are my entries.

Climate Crash National Park

Climate Denial National Monument