CORVALLIS, Ore. – We value legacies. We leave them for our families, our communities, society, and the environment. But will the Earth leave a legacy for extraterrestrial civilizations? At Science Pub Corvallis on Nov. 4, Martin Fisk, emeritus professor at Oregon State University, will address that question.

“The chance that Earth leaves a legacy, that is, preserves evidence of our existence by passing information about us to extraterrestrial civilizations, improves as we increase the length of time that we maintain our ability for interplanetary communication,” says Fisk.

The issue may rest on what he calls “great filters,” planet-wide events that create barriers to the rise and persistence of intelligence. Earth has passed through several naturally occurring “great filters,” and a natural or man-made filter will someday end our civilization, he adds. If this happens before we communicate with intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, Earth will very likely not have a legacy.

He argues that the climate crisis could be a man-made “great filter,” which we have a chance to avert. “The decision to survive the climate crisis can be posed as an ethical conflict between the well-being and happiness of today’s current population and the well-being and happiness of future generations.”

Fisk will explore the potential number of exocivilizations who might detect us and the relationship between technological longevity and alien contact. He’ll consider how ethical decision-making could mitigate the climate crisis, maintain or improve standards of living and increase the chances that distant civilizations will contemplate our existence.

Science Pub begins at 6 p.m. in the Old World Deli, 341 2nd St. in Corvallis and is free and open to the public. Registration is required and can be done online at or by contacting University Events at 541-737-4717 or [email protected]. If registration is closed (fully booked), walk-ins are welcome, but people who arrive without a ticket will not be admitted to the reserved seating area until 6 p.m.

Podcasts of previous Corvallis Science Pub events on topics such as “Technology in the Fields” and “From Wolves to the Warning to Humanity: Facing the Environmental Crisis through Science” are available at

Sponsors of Science Pub include Terra magazine at OSU, the Downtown Corvallis Association and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

For accommodations for disabilities or questions, contact University Events at 541-737-4717 or [email protected].

General OSU

About Oregon State University: As one of only three land, sea, space and sun grant universities in the nation, Oregon State serves Oregon and the world by working on today’s most pressing issues. Our more than 36,000 students come from across the globe, and our programs operate in every Oregon county. Oregon State receives more research funding than all of the state’s comprehensive public universities combined. At our campuses in Corvallis and Bend, marine research center in Newport, OSU Portland Center and award-winning Ecampus, we excel at shaping today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders.

Story By: 

Nick Houtman, 541-737-0788, [email protected]


Martin Fisk, 541-737-5208, [email protected]


Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.