Whether we cook ourselves to death with greenhouse gases, blow each other up in a nuclear war or merely sit passively about until we are smacked with the Sweet Meteor of Doom, humanity’s time on this planet will someday be up. What, then, will be left of us? Science now provides us with an answer—a thin layer of crap all over the entire planet.
We will have our own geological layer. You can see other geological layers in places like the Grand Canyon, where the Colorado River has cut through eons of rock, revealing the strata underneath us, each layer representing another eon in the history of dirt. The strata are usually formed deep under the oceans, as a couple hundred million years’ worth of tiny lifeforms get together and decide to be crushed into sandstone by the weight of the sea, some of which eventually gets thrust up into the air by the continents drifting around and smacking into each other.
All of these strata tend to be made of a uniform type of rock, but our layer is going to be different. Way different. None of us knows what a geological layer composed of TV remotes, old tires and Mickey Mouse ears will look like after it has been crushed under the weight of the earth for a billion years, but it won’t look like sandstone. Your smoke detectors, rubber bouncy castles and George Foreman Grills will form a layer which will make any future geologist look at it and say “Weren’t they a bunch of busy little bitches?”
They will give our era a name. I suggest the Craptastizene, or possibly the Shitshowazoic, but I hardly expect to be around to be asked for my input. We don’t even know who these geologists will be. Maybe they will be advanced aliens who finally show up a billion years too late to save us from ourselves, which I personally consider pretty goddamn inconsiderate of them. They will notice the satellites still orbiting the planet, and decide to dig for more evidence that we once existed. They will come up with Pokémon cards and cell phone batteries. Digging deeper, they will discover eight-track tapes and cars with huge fins. Beneath that, coonskin caps and muskets. You get the picture.
Of course, advanced aliens might be advanced enough not to bother. Our galaxy might be lousy with lost civilizations by then. Then our discovery would have to wait until the cockroaches that survived the nuclear winter we sprang on them would evolve into intelligent insects. I’m pretty sure sentience wouldn’t make these creatures any less disgusting, so it’s fortunate we’ll all be long dead by the time they start scurrying around our strata.
Maybe these future brainy bugs will all be noble scientists, conscious at all times of their place in the cosmic order and dedicated to the pursuit of fact. It’s more likely they’ll be more like us, however, with just a few capacious minds probing towards the future, while most of them just flame each other on BugBook and occasionally attack their fellow intelligent insects with pesticides.
They will come up with highly speculative theories about us, like we do about our remote ancestors. They may decide that we worshipped in stadiums and stored grain in our churches. As they bite each other’s heads off in mating rituals, they will wonder if we were cannibals, too. Answer—just a few of us.
We don’t really have to wonder what they’ll see, though. The future is now, and we can view it at any time. Just meet me at the landfill.