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Larry Larsen, Mandan, N.D., Published December 04 2013

Letter: Earth is running out of time

We look the night sky and wonder. Astronomers are now estimating 20 billion Earth-like planets exist in our Milky Way galaxy. The universe began 14 billion years ago, Earth 5 billion years ago; the fraction of human development is very small.

Humans once had a hunter-gatherer lifestyle and lived in caves (childhood?) then learned to farm, write and create laws (adolescence?) and now live in a technological society (adulthood?). Our technological civilization is 200 years old.

Technology has evolved faster than human morality and virtue. Much technology has been good; some has pummeled us with climate change, pollution, overpopulation, weapons of mass destruction and … . Perhaps when planetary civilizations reach a certain point in their technological development, they lose control of technology, destroying themselves or rendering their planet uninhabitable.

Science fiction often has Earth attacked by alien life- forms looking for new planets to plunder like locusts and then moving on. It would be tragic, if we were the ones who went out into space to plunder other civilizations.

Only when our culture moves out of its adolescence, into true adulthood will we survive this technological time. Adolescents have a knack for choosing things that are harmful for them. We’ve been transmitting radio into space 100 years, television 75 years. Many Earth-like planets are within that light-year range.

Since 1960, astronomers have scanned near portions of our galaxy for intelligent radio signals, and have found nothing. Have those technological civilizations imploded?

Are we next? Can we compel ourselves to realize it’s no longer what you do that matters but how we treat others and ourselves, especially in matters of companionship, race, religion and government? Is this a divine test of our worthiness to survive? Think about it because we are running out of time.