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Bad public policy, pursued stubbornly over a long period of time, causes more civilizations to fall than any sudden disaster. With that in mind, it should be noted that a recent academic study, published in the journal Astrobiology, attempted to solve the Fermi Paradox. According to the study, almost every civilization that has arisen in the universe has been wiped out by climate change.

The Fermi Paradox

The Fermi Paradox was first postulated by the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi. It asks the question, given the number of habitable planets likely in the universe on which intelligent civilizations should have arisen capable of interstellar travel, why haven’t aliens visited Earth already?

Fermi’s question is a compelling one.

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During the Cold War, for example, a common theory was that alien civilizations must have destroyed themselves in a nuclear war. However, when the Soviet Union collapsed, and the threat of nuclear holocaust receded, that explanation fell out of favor.

Climate change as a world killer

Climate change is the latest thing that is going to kill us all unless we change our evil ways. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and human civilization is pumping a lot of it into the atmosphere. Many scientists and policymakers believe that climate change may harm or even end civilization unless stopped. A few scientists, such as Dr. Judith Curry, think that the problem is being overblown.

In any case, new technologies, including solar, wind, nuclear, fusion, and even low-emitting natural gas, are already promising a solution to the global warming problem.

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Indeed, planting more trees and developing carbon capture technology will go a long way toward saving the planet from the scourge of climate change. No doubt these facts allowed many alien civilizations to survive climate change just as they likely did the threat of nuclear war. Climate change is a problem, but one that is easily solvable given sensible policy.

So, if nuclear war and climate change didn’t kill off all the aliens, what did? Perhaps the one thing that kills off more civilizations than any other cause is bad public policy. Consider the media popularity of one example called “Democratic socialists” such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez advocates.

Socialism could be the greatest peril of them all

The idea of socialism, a system that purports to provide all of the basic needs of society, including food, housing, health care, and education while running the means of production as government services, is a beguiling one.

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Of course, all of that free stuff takes a lot of money, which leaves little left over for a space program.

Indeed, debates that have raged since the Apollo program suggest that socialism, or at least a lot of social welfare spending, preclude a country having a space program. From Walter Mondale, a Great Society liberal who used to inveigh against human space exploration on the floor of the Senate, to advocates of universal health care today, space and socialism have been seen as irreconcilable. Indeed, the attitude stretches even to the private space barons like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. How dare these rich white guys spend their own wealth on rockets when they should be feeding the hungry!

The problem with socialism, as the late, great Margaret Thatcher pointed out, is that, eventually, one runs out of other people’s money. We already are witnessing end-stage socialism in North Korea, where a mad tyrant lords it over a starving, parasite-ridden population, and in Venezuela, which has become a dystopia resembling that of “The Road Warrior” where the people are currently in open revolt over the lack of food, water, and medicine wrought by the Maduro regime.

Imagine then, a disaster as has afflicted those two countries happening on a planetary scale?

It may well be that, if human civilization avoids the siren call of Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and their ilk and expands into space, future explorers will find the ruins of former civilizations which adopted some form of socialism among the stars, where survivors live lives that are nasty, brutish, and short. These alien societies will not have been destroyed by war or environmental catastrophe, but by bad public policy in pursuit of free stuff, heedless of the cost or consequences.