I composed this persuasive essay for my Elements of Astronomy class in fall 2018. We had to discuss whether or not to continue to fund the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program and why, using at least two scientific articles and the Drake Equation to support our argument. [The Drake Equation: Number of Civilizations = (number of habitable planets) X (fraction of habitable planets with life) X (the fraction of life-bearing planets on which a civilization capable of interstellar communication has at some time arisen) X (the fraction of these civilization-bearing planets that happen to have a civilization now)].
In my paper I discuss why to support SETI given the likelihood that life exists in the nearly infinite universe. Extremophiles and other organisms on Earth thrive in conditions that would instantly kill humans, such as subzero temperatures and near hydrothermal vents at the ocean floor. Furthermore, given that every star most likely contains at least one habitable planet and there are billions of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, it is quite possible that live exists someone out in the universe.
However, I do caution readers that we do not attempt to contact these beings until we know more how they might affect us and vice versa. Human history is riddled with horrific circumstances in which a dominant culture nearly exterminated another culture through disease and colonization. While we would hopefully take precautions to avoid this, we don't know if any extraterrestrial life would do the same, nor if we could resist harming the aliens in some way or involuntarily infect them with a deadly pathogen.