Discover strange new worlds, seek out new civilizations… and destroy them

Space exploration is a great exciting adventure, isn’t it? Well, maybe not for humans. If we keep doing what we do best, being self-centered and careless, we might reproduce our mistakes from the past, and add a few new ones in the process.

Here are a few scenarios on how we could interact quite badly with intelligent alien lifeforms :

  • Oops (failing technology, I) : the first test of a warp drive is a success, the ship reaches a distant solar system. As it slows down, all the warp bubble’s energy is released into space, and destroys the planets around. (something similar as what is explained here)
  • Starting a war inadvertently: our space ship / space marines misinterpret an “universal sign” made by representatives of a technologically evolved alien race, and the war begins… (just like the human-Minbari war in Babylon 5)
  • As the first Earth colonists settle on a paradisiac new planet, they get friendly with the intelligent natives. Some of the microbes they carry, quite inoffensive for humans, are deadly to the aliens. Result : near total extermination of alien race. (Similar to the aboriginal issue in Australia)
  • Humans love to hunt, if not for food, then for sport. On this new planet around a distant sun, they find a really nice species of butterflies, whose wings have the amazing property to remain warm in any environment: the perfect insulation material, and one of their organs secretes a fluid which can provoke the growth of lost limbs (or any interesting property). Massive hunts are organized, until the butterflies become an endangered species. Of course, they happened to be the local intelligent life form, but we couldn’t understand them… (We could call it the Whale scenario)
  • Humans land on a planet with a lot of natural resources, and a primitive civilization of relatively peaceful natives. Over the years, humans breed and need more space, collect more and more resources, deporting the natives further away, eventually leading wars against them, and forcefully assimilate those who remain in their area of influence (the Indian wars scenario, or the “Avatar” scenario)
  • Earth explorers reach a planet where the locals have their own unique cultures. They decide to help them and bring them “the civilization” and of course benevolently help them in their path to progress, reorganizing their societies… Exploiting their resources and using them for low-level tasks being an interesting side effect. (Model : colonization of Africa by Europeans)
  • While meeting aliens on their own planet, human colonists could also pollute them to death while exploiting natural resources in a “dirty” way. After all, climate change is a myth, isn’t it ?
  • Fuel-propelled spacecrafts won’t go far. On the other hand, nuclear engines could be efficient enough. The only problem would be if one of our nice space ships had a nuclear leak in orbit of an alien planet, dispersing radioactive dust in the atmosphere (failing technology, II)
  • One of the ways to establish colonies on other world would be to transform them to suit humans’ needs: breathable atmosphere, drinkable water, possibility to grow crops… We could start terraforming a hostile planet, and later discover that we have destroyed the seeds of an intelligent life in the process. (a similar scenario was developed in an episode of Star Trek TNG)
  • While settling in this nice new planet, humans inadvertently import some Earth animal species, which start breeding and totally modifies the local ecosystem (like rabbits in Australia)
  • Religion wars: of course, everybody knows that their religion is the only true one. Aliens have to be convinced of that, too. One thing leading to another, bloodshed and destruction of native cultures would be at the menu ( one of the models is the Jesuit Reductions)


Why would space exploration be different from Earth exploration? Conquest, and colonization are logical as far as a species’ survival strategy is concerned. Of course, we don’t really need to start new genocides, but we might not do it on purpose, this time. So, ready for the new Space Race ?  Unless Aliens decide to launch a preemptive strike and destroy us first, like some scientist suggested