Long ago I read a novel based on an intriguing idea, entitled “Toolmaker Koan.” A kōan is, according to Wikipedia:
a fundamental part of the history and lore of Zen Buddhism. It consists of a story, dialogue, question, or statement, the meaning of which cannot be understood by rational thinking but may be accessible through intuition.
The kōan, or question of the novel was “Why don’t we see evidence of advanced civilizations throughout the galaxy?” The site Ad Astra explains:
Typically technological development begins slowly, but at some point (perhaps hundreds of thousands or even millions of years) after the beginning of a culture it explodes, leading rapidly to high technology. Unfortunately behaviour patterns associated with non-technological cultures persist, leading to a rapidly increasing population and ever higher competition for resources. This leads to massive environmental damage caused by industrialisation and usually to self-inflicted destruction by fusion fire, nanotech plague, asteroidal bombardment, or more general environmental collapse. This then is the Toolmaker Koan: travelling to the stars requires a highly developed industrial infrastructure, but development of technology leads to nuclear war and extinction.
However, I think Vexxarr may be on to a simpler explanation: