Summary: We very much needed to elaborate, to the extent possible, what the implications of disclosure would be to humanity. We needed to "connect the dots", and draw as broad a picture as possible, no matter how tentative it may seem.
In a recent conversation with a retired Air Force General, we were discussing a major disclosure on the existence of extraterrestrial life forms. This gentleman, who had known the UFOs were real and were extraterrestrial in origin since 1946, asked me, "But Steve, what would a disclosure mean?"
It was clear to me that he had real uncertainty regarding the implications of such a disclosure, even though the general was wholly in favor of the truth coming out now. And it occurred to me that we very much needed to elaborate, to the extent possible, what the implications of disclosure would be to humanity. We needed to "connect the dots", and draw as broad a picture as possible, no matter how tentative it may seem. Because what may be obvious to some may be hidden to others.
For nearly three years, I have been having this discussion with national security think tanks, business leaders, CIA officials, UN figures and various world leaders. It is time to put some of these ideas down on paper, at least as a starting point. We need to begin contemplating a future which includes the existence of extraterrestrial life forms, and the early stages of inter-planetary relations.
Lest the more pragmatic among us question the timeliness of such a discussion, let me state here unequivocally that we are about 50 years late in this deliberation. For half a century, it has been known that we are not alone, and the long-delayed discussion of the meaning and implications of contact with advanced extraterrestrial civilizations is long over-due, not premature.
But before any such discussion can begin, we must first consider the nature, atmosphere and framework of a disclosure: The implications are very different if the disclosure is militaristic, alarmist, xenophobic and frightening, versus one which is calm, scientific, evidence driven and hopeful. That is, the message, images, framework and atmosphere surrounding a disclosure will largely determine its immediate implications. A disclosure can be one of the greatest galvanizing and transcendent moments in human history, if handled wisely - or it can be terror in the aisles.
Given current media, entertainment and UFO subculture treatment of the subject, there is reason for concern here. Because if this disclosure is in any way linked to the mind-set of space invaders, "victims of alien abduction " and other disinformation, paranoid or fantasy-driven perspectives, then we are in real trouble.
However, the CSETI Project Starlight disclosure effort is aimed 180 degrees away from such xenophobic concepts, and envisions a rational, evidence-driven event which will simply convey the following:
That there is substantial scientific and witness evidence for the existence of extra-terrestrial life forms in proximity to the earth;
That, while the specific motives of these life forms may not be totally understood, there is no evidence that they are hostile, and there is no reason for fear or alarm; and
The world community needs to move in the direction of open discussion on this matter and take constructive steps to ensure a peaceful, sustainable relationship with these life forms.
Of course, this sounds simple, but we are competing with the fear-mongering and paranoiac leanings of the pop culture. Nevertheless, the prevailing madness in the media and entertainment fields should not be allowed to deter us from a disclosure of the simple truth that we are not alone. But we must be prepared to calmly distance this disclosure from the histrionics of those who would have us scream "the sky is falling... "
The remaining discussions, then, will assume a framework of disclosure which is calm, scientific and hopeful. And regardless of the immediate din of alarmist proclamations from certain quarters, there will be fundamental implications which will be the focus of our deliberations here. These implications are really so profound and far-reaching, that no aspect of life on earth will remain unaffected. From theology to technology, from geopolitics to economics, from the environment to the future exploration of space, nearly every field of human endeavor will eventually be touched by such a disclosure.
The near-term implications of a high-level disclosure on the existence of extraterrestrial life forms range from the geopolitical to the philosophical. The most pronounced immediate effect of such a disclosure will be that of altering the fundamental paradigm of how we view ourselves, the world of humanity and the universe. While the full effect of this will take some decades, if not centuries, to manifest fully, there will be an immediate realization that we are really all one people on the homeland of earth, among many worlds inhabited by other intelligent life forms.
This realization will alter not only our view of ourselves and the earth, but I believe it will impact on the current state of geopolitical fractionation. In the post-Cold War era, the world is becoming increasingly "balkanized", precisely at the time when one would hope for increasing world unity and coherence. The definitive disclosure that we are not alone in the universe, and that, more importantly, these advanced life forms are landing on terra firma, will provide significant impetus to the as-yet incomplete process of forming a truly global civilization. This disclosure will complete the galvanizing effect which the space program provided as it sent back to the earth photographs of this beautiful blue sphere floating in space, which we all call home.
As the global community contemplates the immediate and future reality of earth coming into contact with other advanced civilizations, all of the usual preoccupations with the endless internecine battles among nations and peoples on earth will suddenly appear in quite a different light. The differences and conflicts between various racial, religious, ethnic and national identities will be seen in a new perspective as we begin to contemplate the reality of earth evolving into an inter-planetary civilization. The world will rapidly quicken the pace of globalization and integration into a functional, peaceful civilization.
This can - and must - be done without either demonizing or deifying these extraterrestrial peoples. The ingrained xenophobic response of today and yesteryear will need to give way to a new paradigm motivated by hope, understanding and tolerance of diversity.
Even the process of coming to grips with the post-disclosure reality of an extraterrestrial presence will force the world to evolve the moral, spiritual, psychological and physical capacity to effectively meet the challenges of the situation. So the immediate impact will include the rapid development of a functional global capability vis á vis an extraterrestrial presence. No single nation can achieve this; no superpower, however well meaning, can think and act on behalf of the entire world as it adjusts to the early challenges of inter-planetary relations. This, then, will provide both the practical and philosophical setting for the development of a world civilization.
While people will no doubt retain their various national, ethnic and religious identities, there will be added to these the over-arching identity of being "from earth". Beyond this, an awareness will grow that, indeed, all conscious, intelligent life forms have in common the intangible but real link of awareness, of consciousness, and the early stages of universal "citizenship" will dawn. That is, we will experience, first inwardly and later in practical life, the awareness of the universality of life. This theme could, no doubt, fill an entire book, if not several volumes of books. But in the interest of time, let us look at other immediate implications:
Governments around the world will immediately be affected in several inter-related ways. There will be an examination of covert, previously unacknowledged "black" projects in the military/intelligence/industrial sector, and these projects will be moved back to the public domain and to conventional oversight and control. Currently, these projects officially "do not exist" and as such constitute a serious threat to governmental integrity, especially in constitutional democracies such as the United States. A disclosure will set in motion governmental and social pressures to restore constitutional chain of command and control over this matter, and senior government leaders will no longer be able to avoid responsibility for this issue by claiming "plausible deniability". In short, this disclosure on the existence of extra-terrestrial life forms in proximity to earth will reverse the excesses of secrecy which developed in the post-World War II era and Cold War.
Academic, scientific and governmental institutions and agencies will quickly focus on the meaning, implications and requirements of a newly ordered global paradigm, which suddenly includes the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations visiting earth. From international policy "think-tanks" to various academies of science around the world, this issue will become a prime focus of discussion, study and debate. In an academic sense, no field of study will be untouched by such a disclosure: history, anthropology, philosophy, geopolitics, exo-biology, theology, the arts, sciences and technology, business and economics -- all will be immediately galvanized by and preoccupied with such a disclosure. The vast and profound implications inherent to the fact that we are not alone in the universe, and are already being visited by advanced extraterrestrial life forms will indeed be of unparalleled significance in the history of the human species.
Theological and philosophical implications will immediately be discussed among the world's religions and religious leaders as they come to terms with a universe in which humans are no longer the only intelligent, sentient children of God. In this respect, concepts of God, creation, life and religious meaning will evolve in the direction of accommodating the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, and this will cause an increasing "universalization" of God and religious meaning.
Additionally, there will likely be unfortunate yet predictable reactionary sentiment from various religions around the world which will place such a disclosure into a strictly eschatological framework, or worse. Already, among fringe elements in the civilian sector, we see attempts to either demonize or deify these extraterrestrial visitors. (Many of these reactions are reminiscent of the movie "The Gods Must Be Crazy".) Nevertheless, such reactivity and fanaticism, while predictable, will eventually give way to a more reasoned and mature response and the world's religions will adopt an understanding of intelligent life which is universal, and which will, I believe, redound to the appreciation of an infinite Creator whose glory is not confined to the earth.
INTERMEDIATE AND LONG-TERM IMPLICATIONS
The length and scope of this paper obviously does not permit a thorough analysis of the immediate ramifications of such a disclosure, much less the intermediate and long-term implications. However, it is important to review a few of the highlights of these more distant implications, because it is here that we will see a literal transformation of human society.
This cannot be appreciated fully, however, without also appreciating a central fact of the past 50 years of UFO/ETI secrecy: that covert human projects have possessed advanced extraterrestrial technologies and have been "reverse-engineering" them for decades. This means that in the post-disclosure era, there will be the opportunity to eventually apply these technologies to the problems of human society. The elaboration of the mechanisms of advanced energy, propulsion, communications and other extraterrestrial technologies will have an extraordinary impact on current earth technologies, including energy generation, transportation, communications, education, manufacturing, medicine and more. Aside from our science, physics, mathematics and technology textbooks being rewritten, the practical applications of these technologies will completely transform the face of human society.
There is, however, a disturbing side to this, and that is the long history of humans using every breakthrough in technology to build a better war machine. The proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction should give us some pause as we contemplate what the destructive uses of such advanced ET technologies might be. (Moreover, we should be quite concerned already about the implications of such technological breakthroughs resting in the hands of "black" projects which do not answer to the people or the "chain of command" mechanisms of the government...) For this reason, it is extremely important that such applied technologies not be propagated until the world has established a more stable international setting and attained a lasting international peace.
The pessimists and cynics will say that humans will never reach a state of stable international peace, but I hold the opposing view that we will, because we will have to. Humans have many faults and foibles, but when all is said and done, we are survivors - and adapt extraordinarily well to circumstances threatening our survival. Certainly, the current situation of weapons of mass destruction proliferating into the hands of every unstable dictatorship is such a circumstance. And while there may yet be disastrous consequences, these will only serve to galvanize humans into doing what must be done to survive: adapt and evolve into a peaceful, stable global civilization.
Putting this debate aside for now, let us contemplate a "down- loading" of these advanced extraterrestrial technologies in a setting of international stability and peace. These technologies are not polluting fossil fuels or radioactive nuclear power, but are completely revolutionary energy systems which are non-linear, zero-point type technologies. That is, there is a background source of limitless energy which is omni- present in the universe, even in deep space, and these devices "tap into" this energy. The result is vast amounts of energy generated, and, in defiance of the "law of thermodynamics", more energy is obtained than is put into the system.
Without going into a long discussion of propulsion systems which propel vehicles at beyond the speed of light (allegedly impossible according to 20th century physics) or of "bending" space-time, or of negating the effects of gravity and mass inertia, or of non-linear communications systems which interface directly with mind or thought, or a myriad other considerations related to advanced ET technology, let us simply state that these technologies are many quanta ahead of current technology on earth.
What are the implications of such technologies being applied around the world?
- The environment, which is being degraded at an alarming rate primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels and the relative scarcity of energy, would be greatly assisted, if not saved, by the widespread application of such technology. For the most part, the earth is still in the 1800s as far as energy generation, transportation and related technologies are concerned. The internal combustion engine reigns supreme, as does gas, oil and coal as sources of energy. Aside from being the chief sources of pollution of the air and water, their relative scarcity results in a further cost- and efficiency-related inability to "scrub" other sources of pollution from waterways, chemical processing, manufacturing and the like. Such inefficiencies, scarcity and intrinsically polluting qualities of the current world energy system are literally killing the earth. The application of advanced ET energy systems would completely reverse this situation.
- When it takes only minutes - instead of 12-14 hours - to go from Asia to New York, the world will truly be a global village. Indeed, the need for vast, inefficient and dehumanizing metropolises will no longer exist, since both communications and transportation will allow small towns and villages to have access to each other instantly. This will result in a transformation in the nature and function of society unequaled in recorded history.
- The relative scarcity of energy, and hence of resources generally, has resulted in a vast inequality among the poor and rich nations of the world. The application of these ET technologies will alter this situation radically, and eventually abundance and an economic equilibrium will emerge. This will alter the world socio-economic situation and mitigate the economic pressures and inequalities which create so much strife and conflict in the world. With zero-point and related technologies in every village and every home, the consciousness of scarcity and a "zero sum game" will give way to one of abundance. And with this, the human race will be freed from the oppressive mentality of material acquisitions and survival to a larger vision of developing the full potential of each human.
- Public health and medical advances will result both directly and indirectly from these new technologies. For example, imagine a world where abundance of clean water and energy removes the specter of famine and disease from the entire earth.
- Space exploration will be a viable possibility, since these energy and propulsion systems permit transport through space effectively at multiples of the speed of light. And with this, well, the sky is the limit.
Aside from these technological and environmental long-term implications, there are the long-term implications related to the world coming to grips with the early and eventual mature stages of an open relationship with various extraterrestrial civilizations. What might be the effects of an open dialogue with advanced life forms on world culture, art, music, philosophy, science and so forth? Only when we have stopped lying to ourselves about the existence of these other civilizations and disclosed the truth can we move in the direction of a sustainable global and inter-planetary society.
Volumes can - and no doubt will - be written on the meaning of contact with advanced extraterrestrial civilizations. But of this we are sure: the first step is to achieve an honest disclosure. The implications of this disclosure are truly world-encompassing and far reaching. Because today we do not have a sustainable civilization on this planet, but one which is morally, technologically and socially moribund. And as the old Chinese proverb says, "unless we change directions, we are likely to end up where we are going." Indeed, to borrow from Al Gore's book title, earth is in the balance. The evolution of a sustainable global civilization, and the further development of the capacity to become an inter-planetary civilization, is dependent on an honest disclosure regarding the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations, and our development into a peaceful world civilization. Only then can we enter an era of sustainable technology, a sustainable economy, and a lasting culture, and take our place among the stars as member of a growing universal civilization.