kardashev scale: civilizations type 1, 2, and 3

In totality as a civilization, how do we rank on a cosmic level in energy processing and efficiency? Haha, apparently dudes like Carl Sagan put us low on the scale. It’s interesting to think if we even hope to ascend to a point where one could travel from one star system to another, we’d first need a way of converting or diverting energy that supplies a palpable technology.

Kardashev scale projections for human civilization ranging from years 1900 to 2030, based on data from the International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook

Kardashev scale projections for human civilization ranging from years 1900 to 2030, based on data from the International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook

Human civilization is currently somewhere below Type I, as it is able to harness only a portion of the energy that is available on Earth. The current state of human civilization has thus been named Type 0. Although intermediate values were not discussed in Kardashev’s original proposal, Carl Sagan argued that they could easily be defined by interpolating and extrapolating the values given below. In 1973, he calculated humanity’s civilization type to be 0.7, in relationship to Kardashev’s model for Types 0 and I

Looking at these mind-boggling digits and factors makes me think of the earlier post I made comparing the earth to Canus Marjoris, the largest known star. We have a ways to go, and it’s neat to project where science is developing, considering its exponential explosion for the past 100 years.

-Type I — a civilization that is able to harness all of the power available on a single planet — has approximately 1016 or 1017 W available.Earth specifically has an available power of 1.74 ×1017 W (174 petawatts, see Earth’s energy budget). Kardashev’s original definition was 4 ×1012 W — a “technological level close to the level presently attained on earth” (presently meaning 1964).

-Type II — a civilization that is able to harness all of the power available from a single star, approximately 4 ×1026 W. Again, this figure is variable; the Sun outputs approximately 3.86 ×1026 W. Kardashev’s original definition was also 4 ×1026 W.

-Type III — a civilization that is able to harness all of the power available from a single galaxy, approximately 4 ×1037 W. This figure is extremely variable, since galaxies vary widely in size; the stated figure is the approximate power output of the Milky Way. Kardashev’s original definition was also 4 ×1037 W.

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