Annals of Very Long-Term Thinking — The Silurian Hypothesis

As a child I was captivated by the sentient, prehistoric Sleestaks, their older cousins A. W. Merritt’s Silent Ones, and the far more famous Silurians from Doctor Who. So I’m delighted that the idea that humans are not the first sentient species the earth has produced has graduated from science fiction to serious scientific consideration.

Climatoligist Gavin Schmidt and physicist Adam Frank coined The Silurian Hypothesis in the International Journal of Astrobiology last year, whose most haunting conclusion is that a previous industrial civilization, even one advanced enough to nuke itself out of existence, is unlikely to have left any physical trace that remains today:

“It’s unlikely that any massive telltale structures would remain preserved through tens of millions of years of geological activity—that holds true for both human civilization and any potential “Silurian” precursors on Earth.”

If there is ever a way to prove that previous climatic fluctuations in the earth’s geological record are the same as our own early onset anthropocene, it’ll be as significant a discovery as life on other planets, and a challenge to thinkers who are trying to find a way for humans to make collective decisions for the very long term.

(Hat tip to Motherboard)