ROCHESTER, EU.- As we, humans, leave a geological imprint through the waste of our civilization that could be detected within 50 million years or more, past technological civilizations should be detectable by similar traces. That is the concept behind the study published by Gavin Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA and Adam Frank, professor of Astrophysics at the University of Rochester.
Frank came with the concept of looking at the consequences of global warming from an strobiological perspective, that would account for the changes that a civilization brings to a planet and allow findin signs of it millions of years later. When he proposed it to Schmidt, he replied: “How do you know we’re the only time there’s been a civilization on our own planet?” Frank recalls in a piece he wrote in “The Atlantic”.
The concept of ancient advanced civilizations is a dogma of the UFO phenomenon, and began in the 19th century. Atlantis is the most popular, Lemuria and Mu are two other mysterious cultures. Lemuria would be in the Indian Ocean, between Madagascar and India. Phillip Sclater, biologist, propose it existence to explain the fossils of lemurs in Madagascar and India, but no in Africa or Middle East.
It seems logical that a land bridge were there in the past and Sclater’s theory approved until plate tectonics theory dismissed submerged continents exist. Nevertheless, occult writers, like Madame Blavatski, have already included Lemuria in their histories, and they do not accept geology concepts.
Mu originated in Yucatán. It is first mentioned in the writings of the amateur archeologist Augustus Le Plongeon, who assured that he found notice of an advanced civilization older than Greece and Egypt translating ancient Mayan texts; the Mesoamerican civilization would be heir of.
Years later James Churchward would take these and other “discovered texts” to write about Mu in the 1920s. Schmidt and Frank, however, were looking way back, not a few thousand years, but millions, so long ago that there is no craft evidence left. For example, it’s impossible to find a city beyond the Quaternary period, 2.6 million years ago, because the oldest surface of the Earth is a part of the Negev desert, which is 1.8 million years old.
Back then, man did not exist, because Homo sapiens emerged 300 thousand years ago, but let’s assume that we are not the first technological species. Schmidt and Frank called that race Silurian” - after a “Dr. Who” episode -, that’s why they called their research: “The Silurian Hypothesis”. Although there are many fossils, the possibility that a being ends up in stone is small. Small enough that a civilization that lasted a hundred thousand years might leave no trace.
To find it you must look for indirect evidence, like the fingerprints on a crime scene, but at a global scale. To feed more than seven billion people we are abusing fertilizers and redirecting the planet’s nitrogen to food production. Archaeologists of the future would find that element in the sediment corresponding to our era. The remnants of ubiquitous electronics and even steroids will also be there in ten million years, also the pulverized plastic that will form a layer in the current ocean floor.
However, the activity that will leave a larger footprint of our passage through the Earth is the one that threatens us the most: burning fossil fuels. When we do it, the released coal returns to the atmosphere with a distinctive isotope - there are three depending on the type of coal - which llows us to measure how much of the carbon in the air comes from the combustion and it’s saturation over the years.
All that will add up in the rock layer of our time and those signs are what we should look for to find an ancient civilization. A similar footprint was already found in layers of rock from 56 million years ago, between the Paleocene and Eocene, when the global average temperature was about eight degrees celsius higher than today and summer at the poles had a pleasant 21C°. Carbon and oxygen isotopes in that layer are similar to what we - in the Anthropocene period - will leave, but do not reach the quantity and speed with which we have poured fossil carbon into the atmosphere, so it is not evidence of a civilization.
Now, Schmidt and Frank considered a civilization that last 100,000 years so it could be “detectable” with some ease and even then the footprints can escape if you do not know with certainty what to look for. A civilization that lasted less than that would be almost impossible to detect. The importance of the “Silurian Hypothesis” is that it help us to understand what we are doing to the planet today and what are the challenges that we face as a nascent civilization.
For example, the need to generate energy and consume resources to build and support a global civilization that, as it progresses and sees consequences such as global warming, looks for energy alternatives that leave a lesser mark. Even so, you can not build a civilization without leaving a mark on the planet.
In the future, these same clues can be traced on other planets. Inventing ancient civilizations can take us to the possible “universal laws” of the emergence and evolution of biospheres, including the ideal moment for the civilization’s emergence.