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Researchers suggest global warming could prompt an extraterrestrial attack

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University recently proposed a theory that suggests: if extraterrestrials detect changes in Earth’s atmosphere due to increased greenhouse gas emissions, they might attack humans to protect other civilizations from humanity’s destructive actions.

Total ozone over the southern hemisphere in 1996, from a NASA TOMS instrument on the Japanese ADEOS satellite. (credit: NASA)
The 33-page study, published in the journal Acta Astronautica, is titled “Would contact with extraterrestrials benefit or harm humanity? A scenario analysis,” and it evaluates the potential risks of a hostile extraterrestrial encounter. Space.com explained the most popular scenario presented in the paper, stating, “An extraterrestrial civilization might notice our planet by detecting changes in the spectral signature of Earth — the light radiated by our planet and atmosphere — caused by greenhouse gas emissions. And they might frown upon our behavior.”

But this scenario is “highly unlikely,” according to Jacob Haqq-Misra, a meteorologist and astrobiologist at Penn State and a co-author of the new paper. He explains, “We’re not really saying this is going to happen, but it’s a possibility. The motivation for explaining this possibility is that we are doing this technology already. We are looking at other planets and their spectral signatures.”

According to the International Business Times, media reports about this new study frightened some of the general public with headlines like “”NASA REPORT: Aliens may destroy humanity to protect other civilizations” and “NASA: Aliens May Destroy Humanity Over Greenhouse Gases.” NASA was forced to quickly respond, clarifying that, while one of the paper’s authors, postdoctoral student Shawn Domagal-Goldman, works at NASA headquarters, NASA was in no way involved with the study. NASA posted multiple messages on Twitter addressing the issue, with statements like, “Yes, @drudge & @guardiannews are mistaken about an ‘alien’ report. It’s not NASA research,” and “Again, claims we released a study about aliens are not true.”

Shawn Domagal Goldman (credit: Paleblue)
Going even further to clear up the confusion, NASA provided a link to Domagal-Goldman’s blog, where he too addressed the confusion, stating, “So here’s the thing. This isn’t a ‘NASA report.’ It’s not work funded by NASA, nor is it work supported by NASA in other ways. It was just a fun paper written by a few friends, one of whom happens to have a NASA affiliation.”

Jason McClellan

Jason McClellan is a UFO journalist and the producer/co-host of the web series Spacing Out! He is also the web content manager and staff writer for OpenMinds.tv, and a co-organizer and technical producer of the International UFO Congress. As a founding member of Open Minds, Jason served as a writer and editor for the now defunct Open Minds magazine. He has appeared on Syfy, NatGeo, and, most recently, he co-starred on H2's Hangar 1: The UFO Files. ------ Follow Jason on Twitter @acecentric and subscribe to Jason's updates on Facebook.

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