When Will Humanity Become a Type I Civilization? A New Paper Explores Our Limits

There are numerous ways we might gauge the development of civilisation in general. The increase of human population, the rise and fall of empires, and the advancement of technology.

Calculating the energy consumption of people at any particular moment is a straightforward measurement, though. Our capacity to harness energy has become one of humanity's most advantageous abilities as it has spread and developed.

The energy consumption of a species is a good indicator of its technical proficiency, assuming other civilizations on other worlds could have similar abilities. The Kardashev Scale is based on this principle.

Nikolai Kardashev, a Russian scientist, proposed the scale in 1964. He divided civilizations into three groups: stellar, galactic, and planetary.

A Type I species has energy-harvesting capabilities on a par with the stellar energy that reaches its home planet. Both Type II and Type III species have the ability to harness energy on a scale comparable to their parent star or galaxy.

Carl Sagan, who recommended a continuous scale of measurement rather than only three categories, contributed to the idea's wider popularization.

What kind of society do we have then? Despite the fact that we spend a lot of energy, it turns out that we aren't even Type I.

The average amount of solar energy that reaches Earth is 1016 watts, but the amount that people consume now is 1013 watts. That places us at a Sagan sliding scale value of around 0.73 at the moment.

Not too shabby for a group of highly evolved primates, but it poses an intriguing query. Could we possibly achieve Type I? After all, we can't completely shield the Earth from the sun's rays and maintain its habitability.

In a work that was just published on the arXiv, this subject is examined. The article examines the three main energy sources—fossil fuels, nuclear power, and renewable energy—and forecasts their probable future expansion.

On the surface, getting to Type I would appear to be rather simple. You'll succeed if you make the creation of energy your primary goal. But every kind of energy source has its own drawbacks.

If we burn every last bit of fossil fuel, for example, it may result in a degree of climatic change that would put us all in the dreaded Great Filter. If you go extinct, you can't develop into a Type I civilisation.

The team therefore adopts a more sophisticated strategy, weighing the need to restrict climate change and pollution levels as specified by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency against the physical constraints of each type of energy source.

They discovered that mankind can still advance to a Type I level despite practical constraints. The drawback is that it will be at least 2371 before we achieve that level.

That need not be a negative thing. The Kardashev Scale is a crude technique for estimating the extent of human technological development.

We've seen how improvements in low-power computing and greater efficiency enable us to reduce or flatten our energy usage while still making technical progress. Advanced civilizations demand a lot of energy.

It is possible that we will be fully sophisticated when we discover we don't need to become a Type I civilization, even if this study demonstrates how we may do so.

This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.