Bernard Darnton
Bernard Darnton

An Abductee's Guide to the Universe

Innocently lying in bed one night, I was awoken by an intense light. Even through the curtains it was enough to make me squint. The windows noiselessly opened. I knew that I should be feeling terror but instead a gentle calm washed over my body. Without recalling what happened next, I found myself lying on a table in a large, evenly lit room. A low hum filled the air. Standing in front and slightly to one side of me were three figures, bizarre and yet strangely familiar. Humanoid in shape, spindly arms and legs, large almond eyes. Each carried some kind of tool that I didn't recognise.

Click to enlarge.
(Click to enlarge)

Holy shit, I thought, remembering the stories I'd read on the Internet. My buttocks involuntarily clenched. One of them apparently sensed my concerns and stepped forward to speak. Fortunately all the movies had been right and it spoke perfect English.

"Don't worry. We're not going to give you an anal probe. We only do that to Americans. We have a deal with the daytime talk shows."

Somewhat relieved but still unable to fully relax, I asked, "What do you want with me then?"

Apparently they'd been studying Earth for the last 8,000 years as part of their research for a Masters degree in Primitive Culture Studies. Their dissertations were now overdue but instead of conducting serious ethnological studies of the human race they'd spent the time buzzing drunks on lonely highways. They wanted me to give them a cram session and fill in some gaps in their understanding.

"We understand almost everything we've seen but there are some things we just don't get about your strange race. You have many bizarre customs and beliefs which we must understand and you will help us. You can go free if you give us a rational explanation of Deep Ecology."

A rational explanation of Deep Ecology. Couldn't I have got something easier, like Quantum Electrodynamics or Explaining Cricket to a German?

"Well, umm," I uttered stalling for time, realising though that I had all the time in the universe, "What exactly do you mean by 'Deep Ecology'?"

A puzzled, almost worried, look crossed the face of the alien who seemed to be in charge. "Some of your own race seem to think that human beings are a curse to your planet and that they should be wiped out. To us this seems odd."

"Yeah, well, some people think they've been kidnapped by ... er ... let's just say that some people get funny ideas."

"Your newspapers quote respected scientists saying things such as, 'Until such time as Homo Sapiens decides to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.' The leaders of your environmental movements have openly stated their wish to see people die. The founder of Earth First! calls humans a 'cancer on nature.' The founder of the Sierra Club wishes alligators 'be blessed now and then with a mouthful of terror-stricken man by way of a dainty.' And yet they have a large following amongst the people here."

"Don't you have environmentalists on your planet?"

"No," the visitor replied, somewhat taken aback, "why would such views gain respect?"

"But if you don't have environmentalists, who gets on your back if you pollute the land or the sea?"

"The owners of the land and the sea."

Which makes sense. I yell at kids who throw chip packets into the garden. If I came home one night and found a few thousand tonnes of toxic waste in the garage, I'd probably be concerned enough to do something about it.

"In so many areas the people of Earth have shown great progress and yet many elements in your population cling to a belief in genocide. This is what we don't understand."

"Maybe a handful of nutters think like that, like the leaders of those tree huggers clubs. Oh, and I vaguely remember Prince Charles saying once that if he was reincarnated he'd like to come back as a nasty virus like AIDS or Ebola and kill loads of people."

A look of amusement crept across the face of the one who looked like the junior alien. He recalled that they had intercepted a cellphone transmission in which other reincarnation wishes had been expressed.

"My God! The 'tampon' thing!" I gasped. "Was it you guys who recorded that? Maybe he's going to combine the two and come back as toxic shock syndrome."

"Another example of the strange thoughts of your raceÉ" muttered the first visitor. "Where do your people get these ideas from?"

I lay there, desperately wondering what to say, because I didn't understand it either. It was like millennium cults or Islamic fundamentalism. How do you understand the thinking of nutters? It gave me an idea.

"Do you have religion where you come from?" I asked.

"We used to. At the beginning of our record of history there are some stories that are religious myths. Many of them seek to explain the unknown aspects of the natural world."

"Deep Ecology is kind of like a religion where the planet is the God. The planet in its untouched state is thought to be the most sacred thing."

One of the others, who until now had been silent, piped up, "Many of our ancestors also thought that our planet was a kind of God, but as our knowledge of science replaced mythical ideas that kind of belief naturally faded into history." He accepted that this was a viable theory but still had some problems. "Even those primitive religions served a purpose to their followers though. They knew when to plant crops even if they didn't know what made them grow. This modern version is far more virulent. It seems to serve no purpose. It is entirely destructive."

The scale of destruction required by some of these beliefs is certainly huge. The 'moderates' are willing to settle for a sustainable population of about a billion by the middle of next century. Even if everyone stops having babies tomorrow that still leaves quite a few to disappear somehow. The only people with the qualifications to pull off something like that would be Stalin or Mao.

Whoa! What was that? Hold that thought!

The Greens have only been out in force for the last decade or so. Ever since the fall of communism. What was it the Germans always called their Green Party? The Watermelon Party — green on the outside, red on the inside.

"I think I might have something else," I ventured. "The people who promote these views now are the same people who thought that socialism was such a good idea. Socialism was supposed to be a scientific theory of how a model society should work. The whole thing fell to bits and, rather than admit that their 'science' and 'logic' were based on false premises, they disposed of the whole idea of science and logic. Hence the fear of technology, the distrust of rational thought, and the reversion to nature and mysticism."

The Commies never went away, they just changed their bloody colour! If they can do for the world's environment what they did for the Soviet economyÉ That didn't bear thinking about.

"Come to think of it, it makes a lot of sense," I continued. "When they were the reds, their goal was the destruction of the Western way of life — the end of capitalism and the end of individualism. Now that they're the greens their goal is still the destruction of the Western way of life. Instead of the workers revolting against their exploiters and taking over the factories they've got scare stories like global warming and they demand that the factories are closed."

"This is a particularly backwards tactic. Your primitive culture is strongly dependent on carbon based products — coal, oil, and gas. By demanding a halt to progress, a regression even, you will never get to better technologies. The people making these claims and demands are prolonging the problem they profess to be concerned about."

"Yeah, are they part of the problem or part of the solution? What I want to know is: If overpopulation is such a problem and humans are a plague on the planet why don't they do the decent thing and kill themselves?"

Ha! Think global, act local. That's what I always say.

"You make a valid point. We have made many observations of people with such beliefs and cannot conclude that their primary motivation is the welfare of the planet."

"You can always tell when people are being dishonest. They start changing the language. Jungles have become 'rainforests', swamps are now 'wetlands', all the disgusting bugs and creepy things that live in those places and bite you and make you itch are 'biodiversity'. Brainwashing people isn't that hard if you get them early enough."

Thinking about the things we'd just talked about — the similarity of environmentalism to a primitive religion and its origins as a particularly twisted branch of collectivism — it was certainly plausible that power hunger had more to do with the growth of environmentalism than any concern about fluffy animals. That's simply the way it's sold to kids and adults who think like kids. The Berlin Wall was bulldozed and just when things were beginning to look up after the most murderous century on record the bad guys come back with even bolder plans. An economy can be mismanaged on a national scale but tracking every molecule of carbon dioxide or chlorofluorocarbon requires interference on a global scale.

"Thank you for helping us to understand some of the more bizarre aspects of your race. As we see it, your people stand at an important turning point in history. You can turn back to mysticism and control imposed from above, something like the period of history you call the 'dark ages'. Your industry will be controlled and eventually crumble. You will once again be at the mercy of an unforgiving Nature. Your speech and beliefs will be moderated by a self-selected environmental priesthood. The alternative is accelerated progress towards a new Renaissance. A new golden age for humanity is not far off. Your achievements, imperfect though they are, in building a global marketplace, global communications and information technology will give individuals and businesses the ability to overcome the restrictions put in place by power hungry and untrustworthy politicians with their mammoth bureaucracies."

"I think I prefer the second option."

"That is for you and the rest of your planet's inhabitants to decide." "Can I go now?" I asked.

"We just have to radio our results home first," answered the second alien, fiddling with some console.

"Where's home?"

"Twenty six light years that way," he replied, pointing to the left.

"But it'll take fifty two years to get a reply."

"We use sub-aether radio. The message travels faster than light. It'll only be a few seconds."

"Don't be daft," I objected, "that's against the laws of physics."

"We don't have to obey the laws of physics. We have a Dramatic Licence."

Sure enough, the paperwork was in order and the radio static gave way to a distant voice.


"There is one more thing we're curious about..."

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