“What are we going to do with the human race?”

“They’ve been getting along on their own since they evolved. Why not just leave them alone?”

“We can’t do that, now that we’ve discovered them. If they were doing fine, we could move on. But they aren’t. We can’t just write them off and continue on to the next star. That would be morally indefensible.”

“They’re headed for certain destruction, yes. By their own hand. But some will survive. They’ll start over. Maybe the next time around, they’ll have learned something. The moral and ethical thing to do here is to leave them alone. Remember: don’t meddle with another species.”

“In general that’s true. However, billions upon billions of sentient human lives are at stake. In such a case, inaction on our part should not be an option.”

“How does a race let itself cram seven billion souls onto a little planet like Earth? No self-control whatsoever.”

“That’s not for us to decide. Well, it is, but we have access to unlimited worlds. Maybe we’d run out of room ourselves if we were stuck in one system like they are.”

“It’s a dilemma. What to do? It’s tricky, trying to help a species. Unintended consequences, you know.”

“Tricky doesn’t mean impossible. Plus, if we do nothing, they’re doomed, so even if we intervene and foul up, they won’t be any worse off than they are already, in the long run.”

“Suppose we do intervene. What should we do first?”

“We could deactivate all their nuclear weapons.”

“I can’t see what harm that would do. Good idea.”

“They might get paranoid and start attacking each other.”

“They do that anyway. They’ve killed millions of themselves in the last hundred years. Their own worst enemy. At least if we remove the nuclear weapons, they can’t obliterate all life on the planet in an hour or two.”

“OK. Agreed. Thirty-thousand nuclear bombs, or whatever the count is. Plus any random terrorist dirty bombs. All to be deactivated. Personally, of all the human screw-ups so far, those weapons seem the worst.”

“Hard to choose just one dumb thing, but that might be the prizewinner, all right.”

“OK, next I propose that we limit their production of gasoline and electricity.”

“Whoa. That’s a lot more problematic. The economies of the Earth depend upon gasoline and electricity. Limit them and you wreak havoc. Civilization could fall apart completely.”

“But humans are causing mass extinctions among the planet’s life with their pollution. They’re ruining the biosphere. Why not throw them back a thousand years or so?”

“Because you’re reducing the population by billions. We can’t do that. First of all, do no harm, as a human doctor would say. That’s the beauty of getting rid of the weapons. We aren’t directly killing anyone.”

“Look, we’re going to break some eggs here, no matter what… But suppose that we tighten up energy supplies a little? Try to coax a little conservation and innovation. Alternative, sustainable sources.”

“It’s a can of worms. I might go along with the introduction of some new technology.”

“Then again, the planet can’t support this population, conservation or no conservation.”

“Let’s put energy aside for a moment. Instead, I vote to eliminate all biological weapons. It’s just a matter of time before something gets loose.”

“Agreed. Stupid as the nukes. Even stupider. You unleash a disease and sure as anything, it’s going to come back and bite you on the leg. All bio weapons must go.”

“Good. We’re making progress here.”

“Could we get rid of plastic.”

“Wouldn’t that be great! It’s relatively new on the planet. There are older humans who can still remember when everything was made of wood, metal, or paper. Now, Earth is practically plastic-wrapped. Regrettably, society as humans now know it would collapse completely if we got rid of plastic.”

“What about a cure for the…”

“Stop. We are not going to cure diseases. We are not going to remove dictators…”

“Why not dictators?”

“Humans have always had dictators. Do you know why?”

“No, why?”

“I don’t know why. Which is why we’re not removing any.”

“What about cures for diseases?”

“The planet is covered with a very, very young species. The more I think about it, the more I believe that this race needs five or ten or twenty thousand years of quiet low-tech desperation to help it mature.”

“That’s awfully harsh. We could favor a culture or two. Like the Balinese?”

“The Balinese culture is being mutated by tourism.”

“We could do what we did with that three-legged race.”

“Let them off their planet? You must be joking. This is a race of beings that occasionally eat each other.”

“That is very, very rare. I think. Every race has a few skeletons in its closet. Why, I remember when we…”

“Please don’t bring that up again.”


“What makes you think that giving them access to a few more worlds will help?”

“New frontiers. Get the wilder specimens out of the pack. They wouldn’t be so crammed in together. Change of perspective. There is a lot of room out here. A lot of empty planets. A few cosmological pointers is all it would take to get them going. We’d be saving billions of lives and thousands of years of suffering for the survivors.”

“If we do this, let’s start with one additional world.”

“That wouldn’t work. They’d be fighting over it immediately. Let’s give them a thousand rich and fertile worlds. So many, with so much land and so many resources, it won’t make any sense to fight. Enough space to last for millenia.”

“All right. It can’t hurt to try it. If they screw up, we can pen them up again and leave them to evolve into a race that features a little less drama.”

2 Responses

  1. I often think, “How can we stand ourselves?” Perhaps we will genetically modify ourselves into herbivores. But then we will have to create some carnivores to prey on us to keep our numbers under control. This is not going anywhere good.

  2. probably explains the increased popularity of cannibalism.

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