Planet-destroying space warfare was recently addressed in a paper published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. The author, Andrew Lockley, states that the idea of an “ultimate WMD” — the kind that ends all life on a targeted planet — isn’t that far-fetched, even by our own technological standards.
Archimedes is often quoted as saying, “give me a big enough lever and I can move the world,” and that’s an interesting tie-in to Lockley’s assertions. According to his paper, the key to planetary destruction isn’t power, it’s leverage. While it would take unthinkable amount of energy to make something like the Death Star a reality, it wouldn’t take nearly as much to, say, steer a meteor towards a planet to deliberately cause world-ending basalt eruptions upon impact.
That’s just one of the options available to those who want to destroy a planet with near-current technology. It would also be feasible to move a planet off of its orbit enough to change the climate (rendering it uninhabitable) or to introduce an invasive species. We’re not talking Asian Longhorned Beetles, either; we’re talking a species that could rapidly reproduce while converting the atmosphere of an entire planet into something that suffocates the native life. (Which is more like the Volkswagen Beetle.)
While we don’t currently have a need to annihilate an entire planet, there’s a side effect to this research that could prove useful. By deliberately scanning the skies for signs of planet-destroying warfare, we may actually find clues to the existence of extraterrestrial life.
The downside, of course, is that we would be discovering aliens that are fond of destroying planets.
All opinions are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Deck Ape...or anyone else. Arrr!