The Kardashev Scale: Evaluation of Earth
From 5 Types of Civilizations, Earth is Still Type 0: Can we improve?
What if you lived on a planet that had a direct connection and transportation to other planets?
That’s definitely not Earth right now, but what if it was?
We have as a civilization reached a turning point. According to the famous theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, the following 100 years of science will determine whether we perish or thrive. Will we remain a Type 0 civilization, or will we finally start fulfilling our Star Wars dreams?
Introduction to the Kardashev Scale
This scale was first introduced by legendary astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev in 1964 and is sometimes called the “Alien Scale.” At the time Kardashev was coming up with this scale, he was looking into signs of extraterrestrial life with the use of cosmic signals.
For years, the Kardashev scale has been the gold standard classification method for considering “exo-civilizations.” It does not, however, take into account how a civilization’s gathering and use of energy impacts the world.
This scale looks at energy levels as well. It has 3 classes, each with an individual energy disposal level: Type I (10¹⁶W), Type II (10²⁶W)and Type III (10³⁶W).
Other astronomers have also extended the scale to Type IV (10⁴⁶W) and Type V. Note: the kind of energy available to this kind of civilization would equal that of all energy available in our universe, but in all universes and in all time-lines.
To really get to these added types of civilizations we need to acknowledge that the civilization would have to have the required energy, but also the knowledge.
Now, what about humans on Earth?
Well, the thing is we aren’t even close to even being on the scale. Since we still get our energy from dead plants and animals, here on Earth we are barely scraping for a Type 0 civilization. We still have a long way to go before becoming a Type 1 civilization. Physicist Michio Kaku believes that with all things taken into consideration, we will reach the Type 1 civilization category in around 100–200 years.
Now, what do these categories stand for in-depth?
Types of Civilizations
Here are the different designations:
A Type I designation is given to a civilization that has been able to harness all the energy from a neighbouring star. Therefore, gathering and storing it to meet the energy demands of a growing population. In terms of Earth, to reach this designation we would need to boost our current energy production over 100,000 times to reach this status.
Additionally, by harnessing all of that energy we would then control all-natural forces. Essentially, we could control volcanoes, the weather and earthquakes. No more unpredictable Vancouver weather!
This kind of power may seem impossible today, but compared to the advances that may still come and those of civilizations higher up on the scale they may be perceived as primitive and to an extent, basic.
A Type II designation can use the full power of their star. This means this designation can not only transform starlight into energy but have control over the star.
To achieve this designation there have been several proposed methods, but one tends to outshine the rest. This method involves fusion energy.
If fusion power (the mechanism that powers stars) had been mastered by the race, a reactor on a truly immense scale could be used to satisfy their needs. Nearby gas giants can be utilized for their hydrogen, slowly drained of life by an orbiting reactor. — Jolene Creighton
So what would this amount of energy mean for a species? Nothing known to humans could wipe out civilization. For example, if we did reach this designation and a giant blue entity was aiming to hit us, we could easily with the power we have harnessed, wipe it out.
Now, this is where the Star Wars fantasies come alive. This is where species can become space travellers!
If we were to reach this designation, we would have the ability to harness mass amounts of energy and also have knowledge of everything related to energy.
In terms of biology, hundreds of thousands of years of evolution would have to happen — both biological and mechanical. Through this, we could then create inhabitants of this designated form of civilization. Essentially, we would also be a different form of human and civilization.
An idea scientists have been playing around with is humans becoming cyborgs. Being both biological and robotic beings. These organisms would be descendants of regular human beings but would be a sub-species among the civilization.
Earth: Where are we?
Now that we have heard and understood the wide possibilities of the future, let’s bring ourselves back down to Earth. Where are we?
Based on our energy use, in 1973 astronomer Carl Sagan estimated that Earth represented a Type 0.7 civilization. But today, assessments put us at about 0.72.
On Earth, the lowest civilization type is 0.1. Here you would be a proto-human. We would still be using sticks and other basic tools to hunt and gather for food. You probably wouldn’t wear any clothes and would be afraid of being eaten by proto-lions.
Now, in terms of the highest civilization type, that would be 0.7. The one we are in right now. Here we have unlocked the nuclear energy level. At this level, you have learned to wear clothes, harness electricity, network (not only through LinkedIn) and utilize nuclear energy.
Going Further: How do we progress?
Alright, so now you have a solid understanding of Earth on the Kardashev scale. But the question of where we go next still remains. The most obvious answer, of course, is to invest and support education globally, but there is of course more to that.
Everyone supports free education, but the way we progress is by prioritizing our individual growth as well as our civilizations. Rather than just saying that we want free education, optimize it. Do what you’re curious about today and maybe tomorrow you’ll be sitting in your own intergalactic spaceship, with your robotic hand on the wheel.