The Earth is 4.543 billion years old, but something happened 2 billion years ago that really interests me. There was a massive extinction event. That’s the ultimate history of history.
A mineral found in Canada is taking centre stage in the science world. Thanks to the Canadian subarctic, researchers have been able to figure out just how much life on Earth was killed during a massive extinction that took place over 2 billion years ago.
Major Extinctions Are the Reset Buttons of Evolution
It took our planet roughly 2 billion years for us to evolve, and life evolves so frequently in such a crowded galaxy, but time periods are still relatively distant from each other in our references in space-time.
Life, aliens and origins are likely all around us in a sea of habitable planets. For the latest generations of Earth, we know Alien civilizations almost certainly explored the galaxy and visited Earth, and a new study seems to agree. We just haven’t seen them recently.
Galaxy is Teeming with Life — Just Spread out in Time & Space
It’s only common sense, the Milky Way could be teeming with extraterrestrial civilizations that have spread across the stars, the new study found. Published last month in The Astronomical Journal, this study posits that intelligent extraterrestrial life could be taking its time to explore the galaxy, harnessing star systems’ movements to make star-hopping easier.
Our location in the galaxy also makes us in less than prime territory. Our violent tendencies also do not make first contact very desirable at this time.
As for origin stories, the extinction that occurred 2 billion years ago was way more dramatic than the one that erased the dinosaurs from the timeline.
To Study the Future, Study Ancient History
The study found that extreme changes in the atmosphere were responsible for almost 100 percent of life on Earth being killed more than 2 billion years ago. I love it when science tell us about our place in the wider universe. This also means we should take things like climate change more seriously.
It appears humans (the aggressive and all-consuming mammals that we are) aren’t the first pandemic to hit the planet. Micro-organisms living on Earth billions of years ago used up all of the nutrients needed to create oxygen and that made Earth’s atmosphere unbalanced. So what does it all mean for how life survives and thrives on planets?
Civilizations might take longer to spread across the stars than previously thought. The research is also a more logical approach to the Fermi paradox, (The Fermi paradox is a conflict between the argument that scale and probability seem to favor intelligent life being common in the universe, and the total lack of evidence of intelligent life having ever arisen anywhere other than on the Earth.)
Researchers have sought to answer the Fermi paradox in several ways. Studies have investigated the possibility that all alien life forms in oceans below a planet’s surface and have posited that civilizations might be undone by their unsustainability before accomplishing any interstellar travel.
Whatever the case, if humans manage to leave the planet, it will be a somewhat unusable piece of rock after we are done with it. The pressure of extinction will force humanity to use the time it has been given to try to create a more sustainable future and, amid failures, the only success that truly matters is survival (not going extinct).
The Idea that We Are Alone in the Galaxy is So Primitive
Just as planets orbit stars, star systems orbit the galactic center. Our solar system, for example, orbits the galaxy every 230 million years. In these great galactic cycles, we might just be going through a less than stellar radio silent part of the galaxy.
Our star system currently resides in the backwaters of the Galaxy. Hidden away enough to be “safe” and to be our own worst enemy. How do you protect a race this violent and irrational from self-destruction? I’m not quite sure, but the new revelation about origins and the probability of a galaxy full of alien life is exciting.
Up to 99.5 percent of organisms on the planet were killed 2 billion years ago, so we are the “masters of the universe” in this particular cosmic experiment until evidence proves otherwise. But as our astronomy and cosmological models improve, it’s becoming more likely the galaxy is teaming with life of various kinds.
For any species there is a cosmic window when our fate as a species is established. We are safely into the 5th inning, but there’s a lot of human history hopefully to be had.
Strategy is Required to Survive in Such a Violent Galaxy
Aliens aren’t jet setting across the galaxy in random and reckless ways. We have to prove our worth and our sophistication to join that community. We have to ascertain the best means of surviving in a multi-planet galaxy.
Some might argue habitable worlds are so rare that you have to wait longer than any civilization is expected to last before another one comes in range, but as we evolve even this hypothesis might be disproven. Human beings aren’t likely to survive long enough, if it’s true.
A more interesting philosophical and ethical question, I think, is are human beings worthy of meeting the galactic community? We’ve done unspeakable things just to evolve to this point, where we have consumed and grown without restraint. Are we destined to just keep doing the same indefinitely as capitalism and the future of the space industry would assume?
If the galaxy is a harsh place of natural selection on a galactic scale, maybe the toughness we learned on Earth will be necessary to keep surviving in the centuries ahead. Whether we meet Aliens will just be a sub-plot.
Extinction Events and Prospect of Aliens Should Motivate Us
As for the 2 billion year old extinction, the Great Oxidation Event was known but there was never any certainty as to just how drastic that drop off was until now.
The research shows that up to 99.5 percent of organisms on the planet were killed.
We have to find a way to be among the 0.5% next time this occurs. Leaving Earth becomes a priority for the next era of human survival. Being a one planet species is kind of dumb in such a violent universe.
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