1. Massive rollout of nuclear powerFor those not in the loop, the Kardashev Scale is a system of measurement invented by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev in 1964. It quantifies how advanced a civilization is according to how much energy they’re able to harness.
Type 1 civilizations have harnessed 100% of the accessible energy of their own planet. Type 2 has harnessed 100% of the accessible energy in their solar system. Type 3 has harnessed 100% of the accessible energy in their galaxy. There is no official Type 4 but it is conceivable that eventually a civilization could harness 100% of the accessible energy in the universe, and Type 5, which has harnessed all the accessible energy in the multiverse.
That’s some heavy stuff, well beyond the scope of this article. The public’s focus on near term manned spaceflight efforts these days belies a problem with our priorities. Grand, ambitious projects like settling the Moon and Mars grab our attention, while there’s still much left to be done on Earth.
I’m not talking about environmental conservation, though I don’t mean to downplay its importance. I mean improvements we can make right here at home that will make space settlement / resource development and every other ambitious project we dream up significantly easier and more affordable.
I would liken this to my recent article about holding off on Mars colonization for the time being to industrialize the Moon first. This would ultimately make building settlements on Mars (or putting anything into space) so much cheaper that we’d have to be insane not to invest in lunar mining and manufacturing as our first big step toward the stars.
But like I said in that article, before we can fly, we must run. And before we can run we must walk. Attaining K1 here on Earth would optimize the planet’s resources to a degree that would make us all healthier, wealthier, and better able to afford ambitious space projects. What all do we still need to check off the list, you ask?
2. Mastery of fusion
3. Renewables where appropriate
4. Desert reclamation
5. Oceanic farming
6. Oceanic mining
7. Oceanic Energy
8. Antarctic Resource Development
Why the urgency?
Modern high tech society is a castle built upon a cloud. It resides at the top of a ladder which we’ve been able to climb only by destroying the rungs below us, one by one, on ascent. Those rungs were all of the energy sources possible to access at lower levels of technology than what we possess now.