The Time To Ask

We’re closer to finding out if there’s life out there! We’re four to five years away from it, or as Simon Worden, an astronomer who heads NASA’s Ames Research Center, said, getting to the bottom of that question. That is because the Kepler telescope is making numerous new discoveries possible. Of course the question of whether or not humans are alone in the universe is important. But as we near the answer, there is a question that is even more important: What would we do should we find a planet with life—or at least what we call life? Would we as in the movie Avatar, start extracting its resources? Would we colonize it, use it as a penal colony, as an overflow for overpopulation? Would the idea of ownership lead to conflicts, and with whom? If the planet had inhabitants, how would we treat them, with honor for their traditions? The time to begin asking questions is not when we would be so excited about an important discovery, our emotions would likely interfere with a rational decision. The time is now, when we still have a modicum of objectivity.