It would be nice to find life on other
worlds, no doubt about it! However, it may be wise to reconsider this
entire thing. If we indeed find alien life, can we handle it
epidemiologically, biologically, and emotionally?
We are currently in the middle of an
alarming worldwide situation with previously unknown disease
COVID-19. As of this writing, confirmed cases reach close to 90,000
in 68 countries, leading to over 3,000 deaths. Tokyo Olympics are
threatened to be postponed, flights have been grounded, major
international gatherings canceled, and a global recession looms. In
the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had its worst week since the
2008 and 2009 recession, shedding one-third of its gains since the
2016 election. Most of these are due to fears of the negative impact
Humanity is suffering the effects of
the disease, but the Chinese and Asian-looking people are taking the
big blow. The virus started in Wuhan, China, and ugly behaviors have
surfaced around the world. At a California high school, an
Asian-American 16-year old was assaulted and accused of carrying the
virus. There’s an underlying anti-Chinese sentiment in South Korea,
with some shops posting signs not allowing Chinese. In Vancouver, a
Chinese boy playing at a school playground was taunted as being a
COVID-19 has nothing to do with space,
as it is an entirely terrestrial problem. But the thing is, even its
terrestrial origin, it leads to thousands of deaths around the world.
What more if the virus came from the space? NASA is poised to launch
in July a new rover to Mars that will hunt for microbial life and
collect some soil and rock samples that will be bought to Earth.
These samples are potentially containing that microbial life.
NASA has a long history of protecting
the Earth from biohazards from other planets and vice versa,
according to a column in Space.com. The agency has one division
solely formed for that goal, which is formally known as the Office of
Safety and Mission Assurance (OSMA) and commonly known as the
Planetary Protection office.
Still, the risk exists. Even the
strictest labs always have a non-zero chance that something could
escape. Imagine it will, and many people will become infected. Aside
from the impact of their health, they would not only be racialized
but also extraterrestrialized, in the sense that they are not even
fully human anymore.
The battle against SARS-CoV-2 shows
that humanity can have a unified effort, and it will be the same if
one of those alien living things threatens us all. Collectivism is
among our highest qualities. On the other hand, the othering,
racializing, directed at people of Chinese descent, is one of our