What If Aliens Invaded Earth Tomorrow?

What If Aliens Invaded Earth Tomorrow?

VOICE OVER: Ashley Bowman WRITTEN BY: Sean Harris
Written by Sean Harris

It's something science fiction writers have long considered, from H G Wells' "War of the Worlds" to big budget movie franchises like "Independence Day" and definitive TV shows like "Doctor Who" - An alien invasion of planet Earth. But, how would that incredible event unfold? And what would the consequences be?

What if Aliens Invaded Earth Tomorrow?

It’s a staple storyline for science fiction films, books and TV shows, with writers continually offering possible answers to the ultimate question; Are we alone in the Universe? From well-meaning, bike-riding Extra Terrestrials to world-conquering, brain-melting alien races, our obsession with outer space and the lifeforms that may (or may not) exist there knows no bounds.

But what if a close encounter of any kind was actually made? If an alien ship suddenly arrived on Earth and first contact was finally established, are we at all prepared? What’s the plan? And, would we panic? Or simply be pulverized? What would happen if aliens invaded Earth tomorrow?

Clearly, much depends on the aliens’ intentions, and Hollywood movies typically paint one of two scenarios. The intergalactic intruders are either here to harvest something that’s supposedly only available on Earth, or they’re aiming to enslave the human race as some kind of subservient army. Neither option offers a great deal of hope for any of us, but the pessimistic stance is shared by some of history’s leading scientists – including Professor Stephen Hawking, who repeatedly warned that any alien civilisation advanced enough to visit Earth could be hostile.

So, assuming that the invasion is aggressive, the first few moments, minutes, hours and days would probably bring unprecedented destruction. Given that our invaders will’ve already mastered interstellar travel to get here, we can safely assume that the rest of their technology will trump ours, too – particularly their weapons. And if they’re firing at will from the moment they land, whole cities could quickly be wiped out – leaving survivors little choice but to surrender.

However, if Armageddon isn’t instant, and if there is time to strategize and/or negotiate, then an alien presence could completely upend global society. In the shadow of a shared threat, countries might become united in a bid to best tackle the clear and obvious danger. Previous international disputes, tensions and even wars could be put on hold, as the entire planet tries to defend itself with national militaries fighting alongside each other. There’d also be a worldwide race to understand the alien tech and language, or to uncover any perceivable weakness in their biology or character, once again bringing all nations together. That said, world leaders would need to urgently establish a chain of command, pitching prominent politicians into a high-pressure tussle for absolute power – with only a select few signing off on key decisions. So, an alien arrival could conclusively make or break the foundations of international diplomacy.

Either way, leaders of government and heads of state would likely be living and working within some of the safest and most secretive security facilities on the planet. The US president has several relocation options including Mount Weather, an Emergency Operations Centre built into the Blue Ridge Mountains, or the Raven Rock Complex, a military base in Pennsylvania previously described as an ‘underground Pentagon’. The British Royal Family would probably follow the big brass of UK government to the PINDAR bunker, a war room buried deep below the Ministry of Defence. The Russian government might make use of a reported large-scale facility in the Ural Mountains.

As for everyone else, daily life would drastically change. While worldwide military conscription would almost certainly be enforced, social infrastructure would need to be converted into an around-the-clock wartime machine. So, anyone who’s not in the world’s armies, or air and naval forces, would be striving to provide food, water and energy for the rest of the population. Assuming that everyone pulls together – which isn’t all that likely, but we’ll get to that later – non-essential jobs would disappear, with general focus shifting to engineering and agricultural industries. The day-to-day upheaval would be unprecedented, especially considering that the global war effort would unfold amidst a battle where nuclear weapons and hydrogen bombs are routinely used. In trying to triumph over the aliens we could destroy ourselves.

But even basic living could be made a whole lot harder if our alien invaders attacked our satellite systems first – which they more than likely would do. Because, if an alien ship is capable of travelling to Earth, it’s probable that its passengers will have monitored our planet beforehand – building a sound understanding of how it works, and how to defeat it. Take out satellite technology and we’d suddenly struggle to communicate, coordinate and travel – forcing us to resurrect old tech to try and maintain control, which would further weaken our defences against the alien foe. Given that most major cities will’ve been either forcibly evacuated or voluntarily abandoned, our reliance on wireless technology will become greater than ever, at precisely the moment when it’s no longer available.

Beyond rushing prominent people to various underground bunkers, there aren’t many official protocols in place for an actual invasion – with national governments routinely denying that any plans exist. However, the UN is reportedly working on a strategy for if we communicate with extra-terrestrials, and there are government organisations and private companies set up as a ‘first point of contact’ between us and the aliens – including America’s Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, which ran between 2007 and 2012, the $100 million Breakthrough Initiatives project fronted by Yuri Milner, and perhaps most notably the SETI Institute in California. The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence has been sending out signals for decades, and there are reported codes of conduct for if they receive any form of response – namely ‘don’t reply without international consultation’.

Many experts agree that this is the likeliest way in which we’d learn of other lifeforms, through extremely long-distance communication rather than a physical, face-to-face meeting. So, if aliens did invade Earth, then we might well have had years, centuries or even Millennia to either make ourselves scarce, or lay out a welcome party. That said, researchers have also mused that humanity might’ve already blown its cover because of its insistence on sending radio waves into space. So, if we’re always one step behind, might the aliens have developed some kind of stealth tech to arrive unannounced regardless? Could they, in effect, be watching us already? Sci-fi writer Sir Arthur C. Clarke famously said ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’… And, with Clarke’s adage in mind, second-guessing ‘magic’ is straight-up impossible.

Ultimately, if an alien ship did suddenly show up, it likely wouldn’t matter where our world leaders were based, because public faith in the social status quo could shatter instantaneously. With law and order seemingly useless against an otherworldly entity with never-before-seen powers, pure chaos could rule, with humanity adopting an ‘every man for himself’ mentality with reckless abandon. Rather than working together and following orders, if aliens attack we’d have to rethink almost everything we thought we knew about life and the universe, and the incomparable mental shift could trigger apocalyptic panic.

But, whether humanity is building a united front or descending into anarchy, we’re still assuming that the aliens intend to harm us. So, what if they came in peace?

Obviously, a peaceful probe brings new possibilities, although the instinctive tendencies to pick up a rifle or panic would probably still stand. But once the fundamental shock softens and disappears, and particularly if our visitors aren’t aggressive, then logic and reason might win out. An alien invasion seems spectacularly crazy to us, but perhaps only because we haven’t achieved it ourselves yet. Despite our endless study of the stars, us Earthlings rarely feel as though we’re even close to understanding them. So, if an alien gets to us first, not only would their advanced capabilities likely mean they’d have no need or ambition to conquer Earth anyway, but we’d perhaps willingly hold our hands up and admit our inferiority.

And that might not be such a bad thing. Proponents of the ‘Zoo Hypothesis’ would argue that alien contact could actually be reason to celebrate. The hypothesis suggests that humans have yet to encounter advanced extra-terrestrial beings because the aliens will only approach us when our civilisation achieves certain social, ethical and technological standards. So, the appearance of an alien ship would become a kind of reward, for creating a planet that has been deemed worthy. And if the aliens did arrive intending to induct us into some kind of ultra-exclusive planetary club, then our own collective knowledge, experience and innate potential would instantly sky-rocket beyond anything we can yet imagine, as a result of an extraordinary partnership with our far-flung allies.

As farfetched as that may sound, a 2018 study by Arizona State University does suggest that humans would actually be happier if an alien revealed itself. The realisation that we are not alone would also reshape the so-called ‘Mediocrity Principle’, which is often applied to imply that we, the Earth and the Solar System aren’t especially unusual. With concrete evidence of life elsewhere, we will have achieved a higher status in the grand scheme of space, and what was the stuff of science fiction would become the base of science fact – smashing the limits we’ve historically set ourselves.

But, if that all sounds quite exciting, our enthusiasm probably wouldn’t last. As long as it hasn’t been obliterated by its alien invaders, the human race would likely adapt to its newfound role in intergalactic society – and within a couple of generations our links to other alien worlds would naturally have increased. But, as an invaded planet, we’d still be jostling for position, possibly struggling for recognition, and potentially striving to stamp our mark on the wider universe we’ve only recently been brought into. The inhabitants of Earth could well be united in their cause, but human nature would still aim for something more.

If aliens invaded Earth tomorrow, it would be the biggest, most significant event in human history. But the questions it could create would be even bigger still.