Researchers predict when humanity will become a type I civilization

humanité civilisation type I

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Not before 2371 Is the result of a study published on the server arXiv, Dr. Jonathan H. of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Conducted by Jiang and his collaborators. This means that mankind will not be able to exploit and store all the energy available on earth for at least 350 years. However, researchers point to the fact that our evolution must have integrated a major energy shift.

Among the various criteria used to assess the progress of a civilization (population growth, empire formation and fall, technological capabilities, etc.), the amount of energy consumption appears to be a reliable approximate measure of technological progress. In fact, since its origin and human evolution, his ability to exploit energy has only increased – and one can easily imagine that the same is true for other civilizations. It was from this observation that the Kardashian criterion emerged.

Presented in 1964 by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashian, this criterion is a theoretical method for classifying civilizations based on their level of technological development and their energy consumption. It includes three types of civilizations: Type I can store and use all the energy available on its planet – including the amount of stellar energy it reaches; Type II can directly absorb the energy of a star; Type III can capture all the energy emitted by it Galaxy. This criterion was revised in 1973 by the American astronomer Carl Sagan, who proposed an excellent classification that would combine the intermediate positions between the three types.

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The current situation is far from type I.

A type I civilization called “planetary civilization” is characterized by 10 energies16 W. It comes from all the energy sources available on the planet, but also from the radiation of its parent star. On Earth, humans can use fossil fuels, nuclear power, air, sunlight, geothermal and wave energy. Located at a distance of about 150 million kilometers from the sun, the earth benefits from radiation every year with an average power of 1361 W / m².

Power is used by three types of civilizations on the scale of Kardashian. © Wikimedia Commons-CC BY-SA 3.0

A Type II civilization could theoretically gather all the power of its star, or about 1026 W. For example, the sun produces about 4 × 10 of energy26 W. To use and save so much energy, such a civilization could create such a vast infrastructure as the Tyson sphere. Finally, a “galaxy” type civilization (type 3) could theoretically use a force equal to 10.36 W. The luminosity of our Milky Way is about 4 x 1037 W.

Currently, humanity is exploiting about 1013 W. Based on data from the International Energy Agency (which shows that the total energy supply in 2018 was 1.9 x 1013 W) and based on the formula developed by Karl Sagan, we position ourselves exactly at 0.728 on the Kardashian scale and use 0.16% of the available power – so we are far from Type I. Can you come there one day? An international team of researchers tried to determine whose research was available on the server arXiv.

Evolution of nuclear energy
Growth of nuclear power generation under different conditions: Current production is based on aging plants (in black), without additional infrastructure (in red), with additional infrastructure (in blue), with an optimal growth rate of 2.47% per annum (in green). © J. Jiang et al.

In this study, they analyze energy consumption and distribution from three main sources: fossil fuels (e.g. coal, oil, natural gas), nuclear energy and renewable energy, with the aim of examining the development of each of these sources. ” We also take into account the environmental constraints recommended by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency and those specific to our calculations. The group says.

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Removal of fossil fuels is essential

As the researchers point out, the problem is that each energy source has its limitations: Excessive use of fossil fuels, for example, can have catastrophic effects on the climate, leading to the extinction of mankind long before it reaches Type I – an event. Scientists call it the “Great Filter” (the concept of a series of barriers that prevent the emergence of a stable civilization). Hence the importance of taking quantities into account Pollution The human race is associated with each energy source to estimate the date of conversion to type I.

Evolution of energy consumption
Mankind will become a Type I civilization if it derives its power exclusively from nuclear and renewable energies. © J. Jiang et al.

Our results suggest that the best guess for this day does not come before 2371. », The group ends. Should we worry about that? Not really. Many of our technological advances, especially in computing, are based on increased efficiency combined with lower energy consumption. In other words, we do not need to use too much force to keep moving forward.

Evolution score Humanity kardachev criterion
Prediction of the evolution of the score of humanity at the level of Kardashian. © J. Jiang et al.

The study also highlights the need for a major shift in energy distribution globally, especially in the 2030s. This energy change will initially lead to a slight increase in Kardashian levels (even a stagnation, or even descent), which, according to researchers, is the best way to avoid environmental barriers caused by fossil fuels.

Source: J. Jiang et al., ArXiv

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