The government has to plan for every contingency: disease, famine, political instability, drought, weather, aliens, the plot of Armageddon coming true and protecting super-evolved man from his primitive cousins. There are actual plans for every one of those scenarios. There are entire real government programs devoted solely to thinking up ways to counter weather-themed supervillains and other outlandish threats normally relegated to the realm of science fiction. Like these:
5Talking to -- or Covering Up -- Extraterrestrials
Are we alone? If not, what will happen when we finally meet creatures from another planet? Will they be peaceful? Hostile? Will we be able to mate with them, Captain-Kirk style? If not, why not?
Seriously. Why not? One reason.
These are questions movies and television shows have been asking for decades. And, somewhat inexplicably, the government has been as well. It's not so far-fetched: After all, while the chance of finding life out there other than ourselves is infinitesimal, we have been trying it for years. We've been sending radio waves into space with SETI, Voyager 1 has reached the edge of our solar system and is still moving out into deep space, and we pretty much call all alien life forms pussies in countless movies that we then beam out in every direction. It's practically inevitable that they're coming.
This film will be the blackface of the 24th century.
So what is the government doing about it?
Way back in 1960, when Americans were first getting a boner for all things to do with space (hereby shortened to "the Space-Boner era"), Congress commissioned an official report on what sorts of things could happen once we launched ourselves out of Earth's atmosphere. This was called "Proposed Studies on the Implications of Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs," or the Brookings Report (because PSIPSAHA is kind of a sucky acronym).
It sounds kind of like the noise you make when you stub a toe.
Most of the report was pretty snooze-worthy, but there was one section, called "Implications of a discovery of extraterrestrial life," that made people sit up and take notice. And then void their bowels, upon reading such reassuring findings as:
"If superintelligence is discovered, the results become quite unpredictable." "[There are] many examples of societies, sure of their place in the universe, which have disintegrated when they had to associate with previously unfamiliar societies." "How might such information ... be presented to or withheld from the public?"
Yep, the whole thing pretty much reads like an X-file. All it's missing is a righteously indignant Mulder screaming about the truth while giving sultry looks to the camera.
But America is far from the only nation worried about meeting ET. Even the Vatican is devoting serious thought to an idea formerly relegated to trailer parks and hill-folk. Father Jose Funes, speaking for the Vatican after its official conference on astrobiology (wait, what?), stated that the church has concluded that the existence of life on other planets would not invalidate anything in the Bible. And Guy Consolmagno, one of the pope's astronomers (wait, double what?) said that he would be delighted to baptize any extra terrestrial life that comes his way, but "only if they asked."
And promised to put the probe down first.