Only 4.5 light years away from Earth, “Proxima b,” a newly discovered planet, exists in what astronomers and astrophysicists call the “Goldilocks Zone” — meaning the climate is not too hot and not too cold. It’s just right for water, and possibly life, to thrive.
Proxima b is a small, rocky planet that orbits our solar system’s closest star, Proxima Centauri. While many are speculating whether extraterrestrial life already exists there, astronomers are thrilled.
“This is the discovery of the year and possibly of the decade,” said Ignas Snellen, a professor of astronomy at the Leiden Observatory. “We have no idea whether life could exist on this planet, but the circumstances are likely to be much more favorable than on Mars.”
While some are focused on the possibility of extraterrestrial life, others are more concerned about finding another place for earthlings to live. Since we’ve done a good job of running through Earth’s natural resources, who knows, maybe we’ll need a new planet to decamp to. A project to make it out to Proxima b’s star system, Alpha Centauri, is already underway, aiming to land around 2056.
Let’s fast forward and imagine some of the advice we can give to potential colonizers, or the alien life form that “may or may not” already exist on Proxima b.
Here are 11 best practices we’d like to see for a building the best potential Proxima b society.
1. Respect the planet
We invent cool stuff that is friendly to the environment all the time — even 14-year-olds do it! These are usually built as attempt to correct environmental damage we’ve created along the way. This time, go green from the get-go!
2. Share and share alike
We know there is enough food on the planet to feed all 7 billion people. The reason hunger exists is we’re not good at sharing resources equally. It’s a complex problem on Earth now, but on Proxima b who knows what aliens are eating and bizarre food they might be willing to share with humans?
3. Gender equality
On Earth, we’re getting closer to Global Goal 5, which calls for total equality for all genders. Some days it seems like one step forward, and other times — when women are continuously told what to wear — too often we are left wondering if any progress has been made. Starting a new civilization with gender equality at the forefront will help reduce issues like poverty, slow-growing economies, and half the population being discriminated against for all of time.
4. Eco-friendly homes
One important lesson learned here on Earth is that building eco-friendly homes and using eco-friendly products from the get-go — like tiny clean cookstoves and pod houses — will pay off in the long run.
5. Peaceful coexistence
Power-hungry Earthlings have a tendency to focus on violence and conflict but we can at least tell potential other lifeforms that peace is definitely the answer to solve all kinds of problems, like reducing poverty and educating future generations.
6. Zero poverty
We now have the tools and knowledge to reach Global Goal 1: end extreme poverty around the world. Since 1981, we’ve lowered the number of people living in poverty from 2 billion to 896 million. Go Earth!
7. If there’s water, keep it clean
The debate about if life can exist on Proxima b stems largely around whether there’s water. We could be doing a better job at keeping our fresh water supplies clean. Too many rivers, lakes, and groundwater around the world are polluted and can never be used as a clean water source But we’ll gladly share this teeny tiny water filter in exchange for a new planet.
8. No war
1,763 wars have been waged throughout human history. While I love binge-watching movies like “Independence Day” or “Mars Attacks!” it’s not exactly an ideal first encounter.
9. Working democracies
Humans are far from achieving the perfect form of government but one thing we’ve learned is that everyone should have an equal opportunities to share their voice and be heard. #ShowUp!
10. Respect teachers
11. Kindness for all living creatures
Aliens get a bad rap in Hollywood. Let’s be honest, even the creepy aliens in “Signs” just wanted a safe home, right? So when and if we meet extraterrestrials on Proxima b, let’s be nice and set a good example for all living creatures on the newly discovered planet.
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While we’re years, if not decades, away from understanding the potential of Proxima b, it’s never too early to hope and dream about what another planet that supports life could look like. Share your hopes, dreams, or even bizarre imaginations of what Proxima b could look like in the comments below.