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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:

5
Talking 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.


Doo-dee-da-da-dee-doo.

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.

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4
Leaving Warning Messages for Humans of the Far Future

Major civilizations come and go over the course of history. Even ones that dominate for thousands of years will eventually fall into dust. But they always leave shit buried in the dirt. Since the statute of limitations for littering is probably just short of a few thousand years, we accept that fact and use these leavings to study them. One day, in turn, somebody will be studying us the same way.


"... What our early ancestors needed with one-fingered gloves, we may never know."

And we're probably going to kill them for it.

See, unlike previous civilizations, where the biggest worry was uncovering somebody caught rubbing one out while Vesuvius erupted, our society is capable of leaving things that will stay dangerous basically forever. Like Yucca Mountain, the giant, soon-to-be glowing mound in Nevada and America's possible storage facility for nuclear waste. If we do end up dumping tons of radioactive material there, any future people (or aliens) who dig it up are going to seriously regret messing with the past. Hey, it's like we're setting up our own mummy's curse! Awesome!


"Bjorn, no one would go to the trouble of hollowing out a mountain if they weren't hiding some real cool shit."

So what is the government doing about it?

Assuming that we are an altruistic people and don't want the people of the future to all die horrible deaths (although they do kind of seem like dicks, all smug with their hyper-cars and stupid transmogrifiers), we need a way to warn them where not to dig. So it's a good thing the U.S. Department of Energy has been paying people to think about this issue for years. What's so hard about that, though? Just slap up a sign explaining the damn thing and be done with it. The only problem being that the Environmental Protection Agency has demanded that the warning signs be visible and understandable by anyone who might seen them ... for the next 10,000 years.

Iconography, cultural touchstones and language will all be entirely different in 10,000 years. Communicating anything to people of the far-flung future is nearly impossible. For example, according to the government, our current nuclear waste symbol sort of looks like an angel. It could be misconstrued as a religious sign, or a message of peace, right up until they start digging into all of our poisons.


Eh, either an angel or Lady Gaga's Tomb Palace.

So we can't mark nuclear waste sites with that sign, lest we want future-us's children doing snow-angels in rotten plutonium. That's why the Department of Energy gathered a group of intellectuals from a huge variety of backgrounds, including history, risk analysis and engineering, to brainstorm solutions to the problem. Dubbed the Futures Panel, they came up with ideas like the "landscape of thorns": a visual warning made up of gargantuan, 50-foot-tall concrete pillars with spikes jutting out of them. That, or else just littering the place with human bodies. Because subtlety does not translate well over millennia.

Of course, as with most government projects, the bad-ass ideas were discarded for cost restrictions. If the Yucca Mountain project goes through, the current plan is to build large "earthen berms" (in layman's terms, piles of dirt) to warn people of the future. Because large piles of dirt might not be foreboding, understandable or long-lasting, but man are they DIRT cheap. Ha-ha! (But seriously, you'll die if you fuck with that dirt, Future.)


"You guys know what this would be good for? Storing drinking water."

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3
Fighting Asteroids with Robots

Asteroids fly past Earth with a slightly worrying frequency, especially since we don't know most of them are even there until they pass us. The sun literally blinds astronomers to their presence, so the chances of us knowing that one is on a collision course is infinitesimal. So what do we do if we ever actually have a window of time when we know the Big One is coming? Personally, we're going to go with "big drunken orgy of crime" followed by "panic and crying."


Stock up on tear gas and Molotov mixins early, to take advantage of the best deals.

Fortunately, the government has a different plan.

So what is the government doing about it?

Unfortunately, it's straight from the plot of Armageddon.

A group of concerned astronauts from the U.S. and Canada have presented the U.N. with a report detailing the need for an asteroid-impact contingency. Indeed, the astronauts claim that we already have all the technology necessary to go all Armageddon on any bitch-ass asteroid fool enough to step to us ... given enough time, that is. What's enough time? An astonishingly unlikely 20 years' heads-up, in some cases. That's how long scientists would need for the safest plan, which involves using mirrors or lights to deflect an asteroid off course just enough to miss us.

Currently, the shall we say "less-safe" plan is to land people or robots (if they're advanced enough for the task by then but not advanced enough that they realize it's a batshit insane plan) on the surface of the asteroid. Then, yep, it unfolds exactly like the movie: The astronauts drill inside the rock and detonate a bomb to slightly change the massive rock's trajectory, in theory saving the human race. Of course, if the bomb is too effective, we'll just get lots of smaller but still deadly asteroids, changing the space bullet into more of a space shotgun blast -- but hey, there are always kinks to work out. The big downside (there's a bigger downside than "space shotgun blast"?) is that, even with the resources of the most advanced countries in the world at their disposal, scientists still predict the human race needs at least 10 years to prepare.

In that case, it's a good thing they're working on it now. We already know there is a possible contender for the plan headed our way in 2029 ... and again in 2036.

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2
Civilization Collapsing from Climate Change

It's easy to underestimate how very unstable our planet's ecosystem is. Any major change could throw human civilization as we know it right out the window. In theory, the next major earthquake, volcanic eruption, or yes, even the Earth's temperature rising a degree or two through human means (read: wizards) could completely and utterly change everything about the planet. Yet most of these things are hard to predict and impossible to stop, so what is a government to do? Well, there's not much they can do to prevent it, but they can prepare for the inevitable aftermath. Take, us, for example: We've bought inner tubes. Lots of them. We're solid over here.

So what is the government doing about it?

The Global Business Network, while sounding like the subject of a Nigerian scam email, is an actual entity that tries to predict the unthinkable worst-case scenarios of the future. One of its 22-page reports (which it somewhat worryingly recommends be "considered immediately") bases its conclusions on a sudden drastic change in Earth's temperature from an actual event of this type 8,200 years ago (read: when wizards fought the dinosaurs).

The report predicts your usual "oh my God, we're all going to die" greatest hits: flooding, drought, wildfires, horrible winters. But it's more concerned with the less-obvious questions, like "Hey, so when everyone is starving in Pakistan, who's guarding the nukes?" It really makes you stop and realize that apocalyptic scenarios are much more complicated than we tend to think. There are a billion subtle mind-fucks to consider, and the GBN has considered, well, 22 pages worth of them, we guess?

It concludes that the best place to be is Australia (and that's the first time anybody but an Australian has ever said that), because its isolation, size and location basically make it Humanity's Bomb Shelter. (Feel free to put that on a flag, fellas!) Japan is going to pull through by virtue of the sheer cohesion of its people, possibly in some kind of Voltron-like formation, and America, always the class act, will probably get by, too ... once it steals all their water from Mexico. No matter how they cut it, though, the GBN couldn't see less than 25 percent of the male population dying through warfare (the other 75 percent presumably dying later, from giant Australian death spiders).

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1
Regulating Future Weather-Control Technology

Geoengineering is the politically correct term for the potentiality of governments or businesses to one day control the global climate. And we're here to tell you: Weather domination is not just for comic book supervillains anymore! There are real scientists from many countries working right now on means of dictating weather patterns. The rationale for this is always benign-sounding, of course: We could stop hurricanes as soon as they form, saving thousands of lives, or even end global warming (by redirecting the hurricanes onto those damned wizards, probably). Basically, God-playing scientists of the world are developing the technology for better or worse, so it's best to just accept that at some point, someone bad is probably going to get his hands on it and use it against us all -- unless Spider-Man gives himself up by noon.

So what is the government doing about it?

Mandating! Mandating the shit out of things! At the very least, blocking out the sun will be illegal, thanks to a U.N. resolution. Not because they're worried about supervillains per se. No, just in case some totally well-intentioned nation decides that partially blocking the sun's rays will help slow climate change. We're not talking "big discs on a mountain" here, though.


Although that is universally agreed to be the straight pimpingest way to do it.

No, some scientists propose injecting chemicals into the atmosphere that would effectively "darken" it, letting in less light and heat. So if, say, China decided that this global warming thing was going too far but didn't feel like cutting carbon emissions or any of that hippie crap, it might find the "scientific" approach, which in this case means "inducing eternal twilight," a bit more to its liking. Economists have gone on record stating that geoengineering like this would cost a "fraction" of the amount of prevention policies, while essentially achieving the same results, so it makes sound economic sense.

That's right: Blocking out the sun is just good business.

Don't worry, though! We've got that U.N. resolution, and those are always followed to the letter.

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For more events we need to plan for, check out 5 Cosmic Events That Could Kill You Before Lunch and 5 Bizarre Ways the Weather Can Kill You Without Warning.

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