will humanity reach the first step on the Kardachev ladder?

In 1964, Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardachev (1932-2019) published his article ” Transfer of information from extraterrestrial civilizations »(Soviet astronomy). He tries to classify the extraterrestrial civilizations according to their technological stage of development. The goal ? Better discover them afterwards. Thus was born the famous Kardachev scale. “He assumes that superior technology logically requires greater energy consumption,” says Claude Semay, professor of particle physics at the University of Mons in Belgium. Nikolai Kardachev thus presents three consecutive levels:

  • Planetary Civilization (Type I): Consumption of all the energy available on a planet (about 1.1016 W-1.74.1016 W for Earth).
  • Stellar civilization (type II): consumption of all energy from a star (about 1.1026 W-3.86.1026 W for the sun).
  • Galactic civilization (type III): consumption of all the energy in a galaxy (about 1.1036 W-4.1036 W for the Milky Way).

“We can even imagine a fourth level where the energy would come from a set of galaxies,” the professor adds. And why not more … But actually, where would humanity be placed in this classification of civilizations?

If humanity wants to survive, it will have to switch to renewable energy.

Type I humanity: a matter of centuries?

3%! This is the rate of progress of human civilization estimated by physicist Michio Kaku in ” The physics of interstellar travel: For one day, reach the stars “. At this rate, humanity is expected to reach level I in a century or two, level II in a few millennia and level III in less than a million years! The recent study” Prediction of the Earth’s Timeline of Achieving Kardachev Scale Type 1 Status »(Journal of Science and Technology, 01/11/2021) also presupposes an exponential growth in the production and consumption of terrestrial energy over time. The result indicates that humans will be a planetary civilization in 2347. However, new research points to an important fact that has been forgotten by previous work: at every stage (planet, star, galaxy) that medium must remain viable. In other words, the use of certain energy sources must be slowed down, and fast!

Jonathan H. Jiang, astrophysicist at JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), is the first author of this new article entitled: ” Avoid the Great Filter: Predict the Timeline of Mankind to Reach the Kardachev Type I Civilization »(Galaxies, 05/12/2022). The model he set up with his team is based on Formula K from the American astronomer Carl Sagan (1934-1996). This makes it possible to make the staggering numbers that characterize the energy consumed a little more human. Type I, II and III are written so KI, KII and KIII … and civilizations can be found halfway there! “

In 2019, humanity’s K was worth 0.729, ”reports Jonathan H. Jiang. There is a world energy supply of 1.93.1013 W according to the IEA (International Energy Agency). To assess when Earth’s civilization will reach KI, the scientists considered the three main energy sources (fossil, nuclear and renewable). Without forgetting the environmental constraints needed to conserve the biosphere, and therefore a significant decrease in fossil fuels in favor of nuclear and renewable energy. “It is quite logical that the actual storage of fossil fuels is limited. In terms of nuclear power, it remains a significant support for renewable energy, ”says Claude Semay. Jonathan H. Jiang’s team predicts that the goal will eventually be reached between 2333 and 2404 …

Extraterrestrial civilizations: Changing to rise

This last result is of course only an approximation and may vary depending on future events. For example, with the mastery of thermonuclear fusion … “This technological leap would necessarily accelerate the process. On the other hand, an ecological collapse within 30 years would put a brutal brake on it,” says Claude Semay. able to see human civilizations across the solar system’s planets, moons and asteroids? For that we should still survive until then … And that is not a matter of course!

Stephen Hawking (1942-2018) himself was rather pessimistic and did not hesitate to announce our end within a maximum of 100 to 200 years. Jonathan H. Jiang understood that it was crucial to assess our chances of long-term survival. He has also made it the primary goal of a new paper to be published in September 2022.

In fact, the newspaper will primarily focus on the percentage of the risk that humanity will soon die out … “The main problem comes down to crossing the great filter that is in front of us,” the astrophysicist sums up. A crucial step that leads either to the end of humanity or to its ascent to the cosmos and its wonders. This time, the researchers had to build their simulations based on parameters similar to the plagues of civilization.

Among these riders of the Apocalypse we find nuclear war, pandemics, climate change and artificial intelligence. In the latter case, Jonathan H. Jiang believes that in addition to a certain level of IQ, the machines will rise up and make cards with people. The article needs to be completed. But the simulations all seem to converge on the same result. The end of Earth’s civilizations before it reaches the KI level. The astrophysicist therefore launches an appeal. “We no longer have a choice. If we want to survive, we must absolutely change our lifestyle!”.

A protective civilization

Is it really desirable to become a planetary civilization or KI? For Claude Semay, the answer is yes. “Technology has freed us from many limitations. Most of us no longer have to perform heavy physical work in the fields or be suffocated deep in the mines.” And what about medicine, which today depends on a wide range of technical tools. Ambulances, MRI ‘s, pharmaceutical factories and other infrastructure. But the professor looks even further. “It is also about preserving the terrestrial biosphere in the long run. At the moment we are more of a danger than an ally, but that may change”.

In fact, only humanity is currently able to grasp the extent that a major cosmic catastrophe would have on the entire planet. The only one also to possibly be able to save it. What if humanity, once past the great filter that threatens it, accepted its duty to protect the Earth and all the beings that live there?

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