So I just saw “The Martian”. Coincidentally NASA just announced its discovery of running water on Mars. If NASA had told Matt Damon about that he could have grown grapes instead of potatoes and made his own hooch. Perhaps then he wouldn’t have wanted to have been rescued, given how utterly risky it was.
There were some great Mars-scapes in the film. Mars just looked a huge Sahara desert interposed with lots of craggy, luminous, bare and craggy mountains. Yet it looks increasingly like Mars once had oceans, lakes and rivers. What are the odds that it had vegetation too, knowing what we do now? And if it had vegetation, then dinosaurs, octopuses and other beings couldn’t be far behind, right?
And if there were such living beings, what are the odds that some of them were intelligent, conscious and self-aware? Maybe even animals like us? Since Mars has existed for about as long as the Earth, some 4.6 billion years, there was plenty of time for such Martians to have existed and then died out, even more than once.
Come to think of it, if there were all these living things up there, could they have got here, to Earth? Not in spaceships, although that’s a distinct possibility. But blasted out in pieces of rock from meteorite collisions with Mars? Was Matt Damon actually doing a “Back to Africa” act, albeit unknowingly? So in fact we are all Martians too?
So that, if this were the case, Earth here is actually Mars 2.0. Intelligent life had a second (or third) chance. The first lot screwed it up on Mars 1.0 so it’s our turn now. And of course, true to form, we are muffing that up too. If that’s the case, intelligent life is not preprogrammed to keep its home planets in sustainable shape maybe anywhere.
Of course it’s also possible that was no life on Mars, including intelligent life. In that case Mars withered and died on its own. So in that case climate change on Earth might well have little to do with humans, even though it’s indubitably happening. Maybe many planets are like Mars and Earth; they have a nice birth and mid-life and then they boil up and fry everything. Like the real Mars. Maybe Venus too?
If there was never intelligent life on Mars, what it shows us is that you don’t need humans to screw up the climate; the planet can do it all by itself. And if there was intelligent life, then it will kill the planet off anyway. So Mars seems to be telling us that you end up in the same place whether or not you have so-called intelligent beings; either we do it to ourselves or Gaia does it for us. I wonder if the climate scientists have figured that one out yet?
My bet is that there were intelligent beings on Mars, of which we are the remote living descendants. The climate scientists now on Earth had Martian forbears who were also giving the same admonitions to their fellow-Martians not to stuff up the climate by burning fossil fuels, of which Mars must have had a lot, since they had vegetation too which results in the formation of oil, gas and coal. And these forbears, just like today’s climate scientists, were equally unsuccessful in getting their Martian colleagues to look ahead and save the planet.
That tells us something else. If these Martians couldn’t be persuaded to do what was good for them, their brains and cognitive biases were much the same as our own. That is, they were essentially irrational on all the really big things, just like us. They found it hard to change their behaviors even in the face of overwhelming evidence that they were dooming themselves to extinction. So there must have been behavioral economics there too, before the whole thing burned out.
I think there’s a whole new area of study here; Martian archaeology and neuroscience. It would probably throw a lot of light on why we Earthlings are so foolish as to have wars and destroy our own habitat. And why we continue to do really stupid and irrational things, despite our apparent intelligence.
Maybe it could even show us the answer to how to save ourselves before we ourselves are doomed to extinction, the resulting moon-scape (pun intended) to be viewed by yet another space tourist like Matt Damon sometime in the future, from a planet far, far away.
If there were indeed intelligent Martians, they were assuredly deniers. It’s too late for Earth now so we are, de facto, all deniers too.