When will humanity become a Type civilization?
There are several measures of the progress of human civilization. These include population growth, the rise and fall of empires, our technological ability to access stars.
However, one simple measure is to calculate the amount of energy that humans use at any given moment. With the spread and advancement of mankind, the ability to extract energy is one of our most useful talents.
If we assume that similar skills can be found on other planets by civilizations, the energy consumption by the species is a good rough measure of its technological strength. This is the idea behind the Kardashian scale.
In 1964, this scale was developed by Soviet astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev. He divided civilizations into three types: planetary, stellar, and galactic.
Type I species can generate the amount of stellar energy that reaches their planet. Type II civilization can gain energy across its native star, while Type III species can generate energy across their own galaxy.
This idea was later popularized by Carl Sagan, who suggested a continuous scale of measurements and not just just three types.
I wonder what type of civilization we come up with? Although humans use a huge amount of energy, it seems we are not even a Type I civilization yet.
On average, the earth reaches 1,016 watts of solar energy, and humans currently use about 1,013 watts. On the creeping scale of Sagan, we are currently about 0.73 types of civilization.
Following in the footsteps of one group of developed primates is not bad, but one interesting question arises. Will we ever be able to reach Type I? Leaving everything to chance, we can not catch all the light from the sun reaching the earth and yet we have a planet suitable for life.
This question was explored in a recent post uploaded to server arXiv. The study examines three main sources of energy: fossil fuels, nuclear energy and renewable energy, while simultaneously calculating their growth potential over time.
On the one hand, reaching Type I civilization seems quite simple. Make energy production a top priority and you are there. However, each type of energy source is limited.
In the extreme case, burning every ounce of fossil fuel could lead to a level of climate change that could put an end to us all (the so-called big filter). If you stop, obviously you can not become a type I civilization.
Therefore, the research team used a more nuanced approach, examining the limitations of each type of energy source and balancing it with the threshold required for climate change and pollution set by the UN and the International Energy Agency.
It has been established that even under conditions of realistic constraints, it is entirely possible for humanity to reach the category of type I civilization. The downside is that we will not be able to reach this level until at least 2371.
This is not so bad news. The Kardashian scale is a powerful tool for measuring the scale of human technology.
It is true that advanced civilization needs a significant amount of energy, but we already know that advances in low-energy technologies and increased efficiency can reduce our energy consumption, but in a way that sustains technological progress.
While this study shows how we can become a Type I civilization, it is possible to be really advanced when we realize we do not need it.
Prepared according to Universe Today.
See also: Beyond the singularity of the black hole