ooh, alien armada, big whoop
Allow me to ask an odd question. Why is it that when we talk about a very remote possibility of Earth being invaded by an alien armada, we constantly fawn over the aliens? Oh they’re going to be so super smart, billions of years ahead of us technologically and they’ll just sweep up away in moments. Come on people, where’s your fighting spirit? Humans are predators for crying out loud! We’re one of nature’s best killing machines that has everything from rocks and sharp sticks to high explosives and enough nuclear warheads to send a planet into an Ice Age. Are we really that little, stupid and helpless?
Now I know what you’re thinking. Bringing an alien armada to its knees in a feel good popcorn flick isn’t the same as taking on a technologically savvy creature. That’s very true. But the odd thing about human humility is that we tend to apply it in the darnest places and underestimate just how much we know and what we’re truly capable of when bureaucracy and money aren’t an issue. Nothing has hindered our technological progress over the last 40 years more than money and political wrangling.
If engineers in the 1960s and 1970s had their way, we would have the first generation of viable interstellar ships with positron engines slated for production in 2015. We would already have colonies on Mars and the Moon and casual spaceflight would be just that, casual. But we spend our money on wars, bailing out financial institutions and pork barrel projects because frankly, we don’t care. Advancing our technology beyond a certain point is just not a priority for us so the most advanced stuff we know how to do never sees the light of day thanks to the lack of money and attention.
When the aliens come, we can knock out their electromagnetic shields with our EMPs. We could pierce their hulls with our petawatt lasers. We can drive them from our orbit using a shower of ICBMs. If they make it to the surface we have biological agents ranging from the common cold to smallpox we can immediately weaponize. We have vast quantities of chemicals that can snuff out almost any living thing. And let’s not forget about how well we can set a trap. Our culture and our tactics when it comes to warfare will be radically different from our invaders. We might be unpredictable and on the battlefield there’s nothing more dangerous than an unpredictable enemy. (Though to be fair, that goes both ways.) Finally, we’re a vicious lot. Did you ever notice how cruel and violent we are to each other? How terrifyingly evil can we become when our enemies are odd, extraterrestrial life forms we view with searing hatred for invading our skies? The human race is nothing to sneeze at and our weapons aren’t exactly pathetic. Let’s keep in mind that pointy sticks can be more effective than bullets if used by capable hands.
Of course, the reality of the situation is that we’re highly unlikely to get invaded. Everything the aliens might want on Earth they can find in abundance in their own solar system from water to gold and platinum. Asteroids are full of precious metals. Most comets are full of water ice. And there’s no need to fight for it. It’s there for the taking if you can land a spacecraft there. We can. It would make perfect sense for a more advanced alien species to do the same.
The only motivation I can see for an alien armada to darken our skies is a religious one, an act of proselytizing gone horribly wrong. But then again, we have experience dealing with violent religious fanatics too…