By the latest estimates, the known universe has about one trillion galaxies, give or take. Each galaxy could have a billion stars, minimum.

I tried multiplying a billion by a trillion and my calculator broke.

But astronomers, using new techniques and telescopes– and much better calculators– have now found approximately 3,000-plus Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. And that’s just so far, with relatively primitive detection abilities.

There are recent estimates that there may be millions more out there, and even that might be a low number.

I’ve been thinking about this, about all the intelligent aliens that are probably out there. That’s more comforting than what’s going on in Washington. Or with climate change. Or with religious fanatics here and in the Middle East who think Armageddon and death on a global scale would be just dandy. Or one of several nuclear-powered dictators with big, swinging dic… well, you know.

I’ve been toying with these ideas for a science fiction novel, set about 50-75 years from now. When several coastal cities around the world are either submerged or living behind dikes. When refugees have flooded inland to live in ghettos around Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Cincinnati, and social upheavals and the breakdowns of services and order have led to martial law across the southern United States. Much worse conditions have hit India, Bangladesh, China, Japan, most Caribbean island nations, most of southern Europe and Africa and Australia and New Zealand and even Hawaii. Disease and famine spread.

When former breadbasket states like Nebraska and Oklahoma and Kansas now register summer temperatures averaging over 100 degrees, and where crop failures have hit the majority of the years for a decade. Hunger is spreading and prices are spiking. People are moving underground or under domes. Animal species who can’t adapt to changing conditions start to die off in noticeable numbers. India and Pakistan have a brief nuclear exchange that kills 5 million people and render the Punjab uninhabitable, and levels most of New Delhi and Karachi and spreads radioactive dust downwind as far as Japan and China.

alien-breedingSee? Cheerful.

And then, in the middle of all of this, we get a visitor. Then things get really crazy.

I think it has potential.

But remember what happened to the Indians when Christopher Columbus landed on the east coast of the Americas.