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So, now you have our message. This isn’t our first message to you, but it will be our last. We sent a probe called Voyager some years back. If you got that, you know what we look like and where we are. Or did. And were.
Like you, we had really good scientists. And talented engineers. That must be true or you wouldn’t be able to get this message, much less understand it. We want to warn you:
Excellent science and engineering capabilities are necessary but not sufficient for survival.
We send you this warning in hopes that you do not suffer our fate. Life is precious and should never be extinguished through foolishness. We knew better but did not listen to our scientists and engineers. Instead, we left it up to our leaders. That was the fatal mistake.
We let our leaders make excuses instead of taking corrective action. In our case, we destroyed ourselves by pouring endless gigatons of C02 into the ecosphere mostly by burning fossil fuels. Petroleum, the most popular fossil fuel up to our demise, was the product of dead dinosaurs, giant creatures who went extinct after an asteroid hit our planet. We derided dinosaurs for having tiny brains, the size of a walnut. We used dinosaur remains to make ourselves extinct.
As a species, it seems we had hearts the size of a walnut. That’s what killed us.
Leaders Are Stupid
People who become leaders start out one way — usually with benevolent intentions — and end up being foolish and destructive. This is because they live in different circumstances than the rest of us. They move in rarefied circles and enjoy fame and status. They don’t live in the real world and become dangerously out of touch.
They also have unrealistic views of their own capabilities. They think, I’ve been selected as a leader, or became a leader through other means. I must be special! I must be wise. What I do works.
We call this hubris. Scientists and engineers have doubts, so they are very careful and check and recheck their work and have other capable people check as well. Leaders surround themselves with admirers who confirm the wisdom of their every utterance. This is why even good and kind people can easily become very bad leaders.
Leaders need to deal with reality. Their leadership must be about all of us, not just our species and certainly not just the leaders themselves. Here on Earth, leaders aimed to preserve their status and power and, foolishly, failed to do even that because they facilitated the destruction of everything.
Our Hopes Are With You
We have failed, tragically and decisively. We preferred not to disrupt our leaders or our systems. We hoped that our leaders would eventually do the right thing. We had seen all kinds of troubles, but never destruction of this magnitude. We saw the destruction — the giant storms, floods, famines, mudslides, heatwaves and wildfires — but dismissed them as singular events. We did this even though we KNEW they were products of our foolish behavior and that they would continue to worsen.
We lost our minds and refused to act because we preferred decorum over survival. We didn’t want to be accused of being unrealistic or silly or whatever. We were more worried about being called names than about providing our own children with a future. When the end came, we hugged our children and hoped they would forgive us. But we did not deserve forgiveness.
The end came inevitably. I persuaded the last of us to launch this probe and send a message “out there” to you. Our hope for ourselves is gone. I myself am certainly dead, one of the last to die. Maybe someday new creatures will emerge here, creatures that thrive on chaos and fire and brutal heat. Creature that breathe methane.
Please don’t follow our lead. Use our experience as a warning. Avoid our fate. If we can help you to survive and thrive, if we can contribute to a universe with living and loving creatures who exist in harmony with Nature, than our own species will not have lived and died in vain.
Listen to your scientists. Listen to your planet. Listen to your hearts. Before it’s too late.