But what if such colonies already exist?
There are examples throughout ancient human history where civilisations appear to have ceased to function quite abruptly, but the collapse of the Maya civilisation is the most high profile example. After more than two-thousand years of existence all of their cities and temples were abandoned, and all over a period of just a century between 800 and 900 AD.
There is still no definite explanation as to why such an advanced culture, that excelled at agriculture, writing, art, mathematics, and calendar making, and that constructed such astonishing cities, ended so abruptly. Where did such a large population suddenly go? There is no evidence of mass graves or of an exodus across land, or sea.
|A Maya civilisation artifact showing what looks like an astronaut, |
a spaceship intercepting a comet, another spaceship, and a planet
in the background with its atmosphere depicted by the outer ring.
Where they went after leaving Earth is a question that is unlikely to be answered for a long time. And they may still be traveling. If the vessel they were taken to was a large but slow generation ship, the descendants of the original Maya that were evacuated will still be living in a specially created environment that is a close facsimile of their ancestors' Earthbound home. They will be living out their lives as you read this, cocooned in a huge rotating cylindrical star-ship with little knowledge of their ultimate destination, ignorant of the planet orbiting a distant star that will one day become the home of their descendants. Indeed, they may not even know that they are on an interstellar journey, which would be the preferable state of mind for the cruise phase generations of such journeys - a state of planned ignorance that would negate any feelings of envy for those that would eventually make planet fall in the far future.
But why would extra-terrestrial visitors to Earth want to take an entire human civilisation and transplant it on to a different planet? It's a colossal undertaking, no matter how advanced the visitors are.
The Maya civilisation is not the only one to have had likely contact with extra-terrestrials. Their forerunners, the Olmec, left artifacts that present compelling evidence of contact with such visitors. It seems that the visitors were present on Earth for a millenia or more, or at least we're making regular visits.
Like the Maya, the Olmec decline was dramatic, suggesting they too were evacuated. An extensive research programme is needed to confirm that the Maya and Olmec were indeed taken away from Earth, and to answer the question as to why it was done. Whatever the reason, it is comforting to think that as I write this it is quite likely that there is at least one human civilisation living away from our planet. Earth will one day be unable to sustain life of any kind and such off-world colonies, however they come about, will at least give our species a little insurance against extinction.
Utimately though, we do not want to be reliant on extra-terrestrial visitors to help us. We must develop the means to visit and colonise other planets ourselves. That should be the primary goal of all first-world nations.