Fermi’s paradox poses the following simplified question: if the universe is full of life then where is it?
First off, is the universe really full of life?
Secondly, a group of answers to this question run like this:
Earth is a zoo and we, the aliens, are protecting it.
Earthlings are not ready yet to deal with alien contact.
Earthlings are not cool enough yet to join our club.
Earthlings must transcend beyond their self destructive natures first.
Interference in planetary cultures not capable of interstellar travel is verboten!
I group all of the above into what I call “standoffishness.” Aliens are standoffish.
To respond to Fermi’s question I pose two conjoined ideas that refute both the idea that the universe is full of life and that such life, when sufficiently advanced, is standoffish.
The first of these ideas is the following: Earth has been emitting signs of life for more than three billions years. The “There is LIFE here!” neon sign has been blaring for eons. The O2 and CH4 (methane) signature that Earth emits and has been emitting for as long as bacteria and photosynthetic algaes have existed, are defacto signs of life. These signs of active life, O2 and CH4, are exactly what human astrophysicists are now focused on in our own search for life in the galaxy. We’ve found extremely strong evidence for the existence of exoplanets and now we’re looking to see if any of them emit these telltale signs of life.
If this technique is one humanity has adopted, a simple method I’ll agree, but one that would mark Earth as have been harboring life — for billions of years — then one would assume highly intelligent exo-life would also use these techniques. No doubt Earth emits other obvious signs of life and has done so for, again, eons. Signs that we may ourselves start to use in our own search for ETs. Signs that ETs would have employed.
If there is intelligent life out there in the galaxy, looking for its own version of exo-life then it should have found Earth at some time in the past. I would conclude that Earth’s life signature, as a beacon for the existence of life, could not be ignored by life searching for life in the galaxy and the universe.
Having established the fact that life would have found us by now, if there is life out there, then why haven’t they contacted us? Here we get to discuss the standoff philosophy of alien life.
Without relying upon complete conjecture (what does an alien life form ‘think’ like), we need only look into the mirror to determine if ‘standoffishness’ is really how aliens would treat the discovery of alter-alien life. The answer I come up with is a resounding NO. Let’s face it, humans just want to say “Hi!”
Explorers of every culture throughout recorded human history have never held the philosophy, “Hey, there’s a new type of people on that island. Let’s just leave them alone for now because they look really primitive.” What cross-country expedition or ship’s captain would ever think that way? We explore. We are driven to it. And in exploring we want to discover, to meet, to engage, to exchange. A space faring human species would never travel for trillions of miles and when finally arriving at a location that shows a thriving alien culture sit back and say, “You know, they don’t look ready for us just yet. We better turn back.” Humans, as alien travelers, would never be considered standoffish. Can we assume anything but for other intelligent alien peoples? Explorers want to connect.
Let’s also not forget that most explorers of humanity’s past have been conquerors. Not satisfied with simply saying ‘Hi!” they wanted to step down from their ships and own the places they discovered. If this is true of alien space travelers — where are they? Where are our en-slavers? Our oppressors? One answer, they don’t exist.
Earth is a life discoverable target and has been so for billions of years. Humans, non-star traveling species that we are, are already seeking planets just like ours using characteristics we know exhibit signs of life. Intelligent alien life, were it to exist, would be as curious and invasive as humans would under the same conditions.
If there was curious life out there, looking for life like us, we would have been found by now. Becase we haven’t, we can assume that the universe is not full of life. That more than likely, Humanity is alone.