When asked as to what the government’s contingency for handling a first-contact scenario with extraterrestrials, UFO investigator Nick Pope had a simple answer:
"There’s no plan."
"There’s no contingency plan as far as I’m aware," Pope elaborated, during an interview with the UK’s Metro.co.uk. "The government’s answer would be that, ‘We regard this as an incredibly small possibility’. But I would say, why not have a plan if there’s even the smallest possibility of it happening."
Pope was being interviewed ahead of the DVD release of the movie Arrival. He worked for the British Ministry of Defence, including four years investigating UFO reports from 1991 to 1994 to determine whether or not the sightings had any defense significance. However, during his tenure there he apparently encountered no plans for handling contact.
Pope expects that an open, large-scale form of contact wouldn’t come in the form of a militaristic War of the Worlds-style invasion, but rather something along the lines of Arrival, director Denis Villeneuve’s exploration of the intricacies that would be encountered in such an event.
But if the government doesn’t have any plans on how to handle such a revelation, how should the average citizen approach such an event?
"First, and it is a cliche, but don’t panic," Pope advises.
"Don’t start running for the hills or shooting at alien ships. Wait for some of the finest minds on the planet to figure out what this is."
One thing to bear in mind is that these "finest minds" might not necessarily come from official sources such as the government, but rather those closer to the phenomenon, such as contactees.
Pope also sees the potential for conflict to break out amongst human nations and corporations, over who gets to control any extraterrestrial technology we might get our hands on. "There would be a scramble for the alien technology, and weapons. Some of the big countries – and also, nowadays, corporations – would be scrambling to get their hands on alien technology. The country that gets that [technology] would be the world leader for the foreseeable future."
But he also sees the potential for such an event to draw humanity closer together: "Ultimately this [an alien visit] might have a unifying effect. An extra terrestrial arrival might convince us that there’s more that binds us together than pushes us apart."