By Jon Stewart
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Where do we come from? Who created us? Why are we here? These questions have puzzled us since the dawn of time, but when it became apparent to Jon Stewart and the writers of The Daily Show that the world was about to end, they embarked on a massive mission to write a book that summed up the human race: What we looked like; what we accomplished; our achievements in society, government, religion, science and culture — all in a tome of approximately 256 pages with lots of color photos, graphs and charts.
After two weeks of hard work, they had their book. Earth (The Book) is the definitive guide to our species. With their trademark wit, irreverence, and intelligence, Stewart and his team will posthumously answer all of life’s most hard-hitting questions, completely unburdened by objectivity, journalistic integrity, or even accuracy.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35
An introduction to the solar system’s
original “bad boys.”
The Life Cycle
. . . . . . . . . . . 61
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87
To Our Alien Readers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v
To Our Human Readers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . viii
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Everything you need to know about this
gently-used, pre-owned planet.
We called this living.
A comprehensive guide to things that
can be killed.
How we overcame our basic
humanity for the greater good.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121
You didn’t have to be crazy to
work here … but it helped.
The ultimate expression of our humanity,
minus 10% commission.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177
. . . . . . . . . . 201
Afterword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .234
Appendix A: Final Scores . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 235
Appendix B: Why We’re Not Here . . . . . . . . .236
Appendix C: What We Left Out . . . . . . . . . . . 238
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239
Discovering nature’s majesty,
and then fixing it.
We were sure someone
was in charge.
To Our Alien Readers
REETINGS ALIEN BRETHREN!
Across eons of time, we extend our
hands in posthumous friendship
and bid you welcome to Planet
Earth, on behalf of not only ourselves, but the
entire Viacom family.
Of course there were those who believed you
had already visited our planet surreptitiously,
an advanced race traveling trillions of miles
across the Milky Way for the sole purpose of
surprising and perhaps anally probing one of
our rural denizens. Which as it happens was the
orifice least likely to yield useful pedagogical
results. These humans also believed our
governments, known mostly for bureaucratic
incompetence, had somehow made your
alien presence the one thing they could keep
We’re sorry we’re not here to greet you in
person. Really, really sorry. We invited you over,
and you traveled who knows how many light
years to see us, and you finally got here and
we’re not home. And we never will be. And we
left the place a mess. Trust us when we say this
was not our intention. In fact, we had always
assumed we would be the ones gallivanting
around the universe, rummaging through
the remains of once-great alien civilizations,
wearing form-fitting space Spandex and solving
cosmic mysteries. Eh. Que sera, sera.
Ironically, your arrival would have been a
profoundly life-changing moment for our race.
We always wondered whether we were alone in
the universe. To meet, befriend and experience
life through the … let’s say “eyes” of another
intelligent being would have made all 6.8 billion
of us feel less alone. And the knowledge that
we were only one of untold numbers of sentient
creatures in the cosmos might have finally given
us the perspective we needed to rein in our self-
destructive tendencies, and work together for
the greater good of our species and our planet.
Especially if you had come to kill us. Nothing
would have united us as a species like the
perceived existential threat posed by you. Not
that we had reason to assume your intentions
in coming here were anything but honorable.
It’s just that in general, our own first-time
interactions had a certain “killing each other”
But we don’t blame you. Truth be told, we
thought about you a lot. We created thousands
of fictional extraterrestrials in our day, most
of them slight variations on the theme of us
(see next page). Us with bigger heads, us as full
grown fetuses, us with animal or fish parts,
really hot lady usses with just a piece of metal
shit on their heads to make them look “spacey.”
Of course we had no idea what you actually
look like. Indeed, it’s entirely possible you’ve
entirely transcended materiality—that you are
incorporeal spirits floating through the vacuum
As seen here, flying saucers first began appearing in the 1940s.
You Looked Like Us But …
… like a bear.
… with blue skin.
… with a longer neck.
… with an insatiable
need for attention.
… with dreads, reptile skin
and a fierce manicure.
… with a more
… with pointier ears.
… like a gay bear.
… 50% hotter.
… but somehow smarter.
of space. In which case, mazel tov.
Ah, would that we were still alive; that we
could see you as you really are, talk to
you, learn from you, then take you to one of
our cinemas (more on those later) and share
a laugh together watching Men in Black, or
cry together watching E.T., or feel incredibly
awkward together watching Independence
Day or Aliens or Species or Cloverfield, or … well,
we fought you guys a lot in our movies. Alas,
we’re dead, and that will never happen.
But this book is designed to provide you with
the next best thing to our actual presence: a
comprehensive history of our planet and our
species, conveniently written in the universal
Consider it a user’s guide to our planet.
And once you’ve discovered everything there
is to know about us—as you will over the next
240 or so pages—you might even begin to
wonder what it would have been like to meet us.
If so, feel free to “splurge” and genetically
reconstitute the human race. As you’ll read,
you’ll find a wide selection of our DNA stored in
two convenient locations, Svalbard, Norway, and
Trementina, New Mexico (see next spread). Or
just poke around. There’s probably a thin layer
of us on almost everything.
But for now, take a load off, pick up this book,
position your … let’s say “lower extremities”
comfortably on one of our many level surfaces,
We think you’re going to like it here.
We sure did.
Did You Get Our Messages?
We tried to contact you for a long time. We’re
not sure which (if any) of our messages you
received, but taken collectively they tell a sad
tale of unrequited obsession.
The Pioneer plaque
Our first attempt to introduce
ourselves was a pair of gold
anodized aluminum plaques we
sent into deep space. The bra
at the top is the transition of
hydrogen; the asterisk thingie is
the map you were supposed to use
to get here; and the couple on the
right is our way of asking if you
guys swing. What can we say? It
was the seventies.
Three years had passed, and not
a word, so we did what desperate
suitors do: We made you a mixtape.
This gold record (actually gold-
plated; we didn’t want you to think
we’d spent too much) contains
earth sounds, greetings in 55
languages, and a broad selection of
terrestrial music. Liner notes were
provided by Jimmy Carter, one of
our most accomplished failures,
and Kurt Waldheim, one of our
least culpable Nazi war criminals.
For the next 22 years we left you
alone. We figured you needed your
space, i.e., space. But then the
old itch came back. Using a new
generation of radio transmitters
we started drunk-dialing the
universe. Ostensibly the messages
were about prime numbers and
atomic structures. But the real
message was: Hey. Come over. It’s
late and we’ve got weed.
of the Third Kind
Later that year, in one last desperate
stalker-esque move, hundreds of
U.S. government officials gathered
in secrecy in northeastern Wyoming
to play a five-tone musical sequence
they hoped would serve as your
beacon of welcome. In a dry run
filmed for posterity, hundreds of
children dressed as long-necked
translucent creatures mingled freely
with the officials, who also included
one civilian, Academy Award
winner Richard Dreyfuss. But real
aliens never came, and to justify
the ridiculous cost, we repurposed
the footage into a phenomenally
We hadn’t heard back from you
by the following year, so we
took a different approach: A
three-minute broadcast of 1,679
frequency modulated zeroes and
ones that when arranged form
the picture seen here. Lame, we
know, but to be fair this was about
the coolest thing we could make
computers do in 1974. That was
the same year we put out a digital
game that was nothing but two
oscillating line segments and a dot.
We called it Pong. It was huuuge.
The Pioneer plaque, starring
Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw.
No, you’re not being forgetful! You
never visited Devil’s Tower. The
special effects were just that good.
We swear we weren’t all nerds.
Just the guys who were trying to
get in touch with you.
The Arecibo message. It was not
actually broadcast in color, for as
you can see, that would have been
The Voyager Golden Record. Later,
we sent out a Voyager Golden
Compact Disc, but it didn’t have
the same soul.
To Our Human Readers
LL RIGHT PEOPLE, listen
up. In the words of the great
human/machine hybrid Arnold
Schwarzenegger, “Come with me
if you want to live.”
It’s pretty clear we as a species are not long
for this world. Even the Mayans thought we
weren’t getting past 2012 and the Mayans were
never wrong about anything. Well, they might
have missed some signs concerning their own
demise, but that’s not important right now.
What’s important is that any extraterrestrial
race smart enough to travel here, decipher
this book and get some of its more obscure
pop-culture references will be fully capable of
replicating life from nothing more than a strand
of DNA. So gather round, pull out a hair and
let’s do this.
At the end of this book you will find a form
with a number of questions pertaining to your
suitability for future genetic reconstitution by
aliens. When you’ve completed the form, you
will send it to one of the two collection facilities
we have chosen to indefinitely safeguard this
The first of these is the Svalbard Global
Seed Vault (78° 13' 48" N, 15° 29' 17" E).
This tightly regulated facility is located on the
Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, named for
Scandinavian music legend Bruce Spitsbergen.
It stores 1.5 million distinct seed samples,
representing many of the world’s thousands of
species and subspecies of cultivated crops, as
a final safeguard against global agricultural
catastrophe. Half of the Genetic Reconstitution
Applications will be stored here. Hopefully the
aliens will know the difference between human
beings and zucchini seeds.
Accordingly we ask would-be reconstituents
whose last names start with A through L to
send their forms to:
Svalbard Global Seed Vault
Akersgata 59 – R5
Svalbard, Norway 9170
Attention: Olav Kjærstad, Project Administrator
The Svalbard Seed Vault
The second location is the Trementina
Base in Trementina, New Mexico (35° 31' 29" N,
104° 34' 20" W). This is where the Church of
Scientology stores the writings and lectures
of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, on engraved
stainless steel tablets encased in titanium
capsules in a huge labyrinth of tunnels built
into a mountainside etched with an enormous
design meant to mark the return point for
deceased church members coming back from
their intergalactic travels. The other half of
the GRAs will be stored here. Hopefully the
aliens will know the difference between human
beings and, well, Scientologists.
Accordingly, we ask applicants whose last
names start with M through Z to send their
37 Ultra-Secret But Totally Real
Scientology Mountain Base Avenue
Trementina, NM 88439
Attention: David Miscavige, Project Administrator
If all goes according to plan, at some point
in the future you will find yourself (or someone
very much like yourself) emerging from what
we presume will be a gooey pod, alongside
thousands of other people who bought this book
to give themselves something to read in the
And then, once again we can rule the world!
(By the way, try not to mention this last part to
The newly revised markings over Trementina
Earth, as seen
from the moon.
HE FIRST THING you may have noticed on your
way in was the color. Deep pools of greens and blues, unique within our galaxy, beckon amongst ethereal swirls of white
clouds. As you get closer you’re struck by the topographical diversity. Vast oceans give way to lush green forest and jungles, which seamlessly taper off into sandy desert ridges stretching
towards meticulously water-carved canyons. In the distance snow-covered mountains rise up to seemingly touch the sky. Of course, for an oblate
spheroid, she’s certainly not perfect. But despite a pronounced equatorial bulge and receding polar iceline, she still stubbornly maintains a jaunty 23.4° axial tilt that belies her 4.5 bil- lion years.
And she has been through it. We knew her as a fertile oasis of sophis- ticated life in the endless, barren
expanse of the universe (no offense). But she was almost 20 million years old before she had even electrostatically accreted enough to achieve solid status. And even then she was made up mostly of gasses and dust the sun was throwing out anyway.
But somehow, using nothing more than a little moxie and massive gravitational and magnetic fields, she pulled herself together. With an unassuming iron core and delicate silica crust, you would never suspect that much of her success was due to explosive volcanic eruption and the water she had
stolen from passing asteroids and trans-Neptunian objects in her wilder youth. She did what she had to do.
In her 4.5 billion years she has been alternately cov-
ered in lava, ice and ammonia, and has endured the endless discomfort of her tectonic plates shifting. She has seen her dedication to creating a viable atmosphere rewarded with a
Cambrian explosion of multi-cellular creatures, only to witness five mass extinctions (you came right after the sixth). She has survived being simulta- neously pelted by all manner of aster-
oids, meteors, radiation and whatever else decided to smash into her as they joyrode around the universe. And she did it all without complaint…unless you consider the violent restructuring of land masses through earthquakes complaining.
It’s funny. When we were alive we spent much of our time staring up at
the cosmos and wondering what was out there. We were obsessed with the moon and whether we could one day visit it. The day we finally walked on it was celebrated world wide as perhaps man’s greatest achievement. But it was while we were there, gathering rocks from the moon’s desolate
landscape, that we looked up and caught a glimpse of just how incredible our own planet was. Its singular astonishing beauty. We called her Mother Earth. Because she gave birth to us, and then we sucked her dry.
So welcome to Earth… population, you.
Our planet had its own day. Did yours?
The 21st century: Earth is an atom
on a pimple on God’s ass.
FOR MOST OF our history we had grave misconceptions
about exactly where Earth stood within the cosmos. Due to
scientific limitations and more than a touch of narcissism,
we believed everything in the universe literally revolved
around us. It was a theory called geocentrism, which was
originally egocentrism, but they spelled it wrong.
Thanks to the Hubble Space
Telescope, we learned two
amazing things: That there were
more than 200 billion galaxies,
and that fixing a mirror could
cost more than $8 million.
Length of day (in days)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Length of year (in years)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Mass (in Earth mass units)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Distance from Sun (in astronomical units)
. . 1
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4.5 billion years
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6,015 years
. . . 40,041 kilometers/24,901 miles*
- On Sale
- Oct 18, 2011
- Page Count
- 256 pages
- Grand Central Publishing