Go to the Stars or to Oblivion

by Fernando Caracena ©Fernando Caracena 2020

Now is a critical time in the evolution of human civilization. We are at a point where we face two possible paths for our civilization's future. This point in time is a critical point, which falls under catastrophe theory; but is perhaps too complex to handle with our present mathematical tools. On potential future path for humanity is toward an advanced form of civilization that takes us to the stars. The other path is a failure that returns us to some primitive state, such as the Stone Age. That would be a giant reset of humanity.

Perhaps a giant reset has happened in that part of human history that we have forgotten. The evidence for this possibility exists in the great stone monuments that we could not duplicate today, even with our advanced technology. To pass successfully through our present challenges to our place among the stars, humanity must shed pathologies of the past, which were held in check in the past by the former primitiveness of humanity. See the post, "We Can't Get There from Here". In 2017, I expressed concern over developing dystopian times:

People cannot do much harm if their tools are nothing but sticks and stones. But when technology puts great powers at the hands of a few individuals, it becomes possible for those people to strike terror in the mass of humanity. J. Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist heading the development of the atomic bomb in the Manhattan Project, said after the bomb's first test at Trinity, "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds". He did not imagine that these were prophetic words, which he quoted from the Bhagavad-Gita. When asked about future wars, Albert Einstein responded, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” If we fail this test before passing on to higher levels of civilization, we face two possibilities: human extinction or, a giant reset toward the stone age.

The truth is that the physicists that developed the atomic bomb did not really have any power. The power to incinerate hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese citizens resided in the hands of the president of the United States. Most of the residents of the incinerated Japanese towns were just common folks were going about their ordinary lives. They were noncombatants, collateral damage. To the president, the atom bomb was just a big bomb, which was impressive enough to end the war abruptly and save the U S a lot of trouble and loss of lives.

Note that wars have become a threat to the civilian population as well as the military. Peasants used to gather at hill tops to watch the clash of kings and troops on the battle field. But sometimes things did get out of hand. When Charlemagne's French troops sacked the Basque capital of Navarre, Basque guerrillas got revenge on the rear guard of retreating French troops at  Roncevaux pass. Le Chanson de Roland (The Song of Roland) changes history a bit here to convey a bit of propaganda that the Moors did it.

In modern times, what thought was behind the bombing of Guernica by the Nazis in the Basque country? That bombing is a central theme of a well known art work of the artist Pablo Picasso, which is entitled Guernica. Here, the nascent Axis powers sharpened their claws by attacking unarmed civilians going about peaceful, everyday life. The horror of the event is portrayed in the movie, Guernica.

What concerns me is that technology places great amounts of destructive energy in the hands of nebbishes; and it has likewise placed great financial resources at the hands of simpletons and morons. Our whole global economy has entered the Twilight Zone. Unfortunately, power mad nebbishes, simpletons, morons, and idiots are in charge in our modern world. Heaven help us. Or perhaps we should just get up and thrown them all out. God helps those who call upon him to help themselves to act.

What happens when large amounts of power are concatenated into a pyramid of tyrannical morons? Does this lead to a peaceful society? What kind of guerrilla action can we expect to see from that area?

Kardashev Classification of planetary Civilizations

Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev in 1964 proposed classification scheme of various civilizations that might be found in the universe in terms of their level of energy processing, The Kardashev Scale. This is an external aspect of advanced civilizations in the universe. A bit of thinking is needed just to be able to imagine what that implies for the behavior of the citizens of those civilization. There are three levels of the Kardashev scale: 1. the Planetary, 2. the Stellar, and 3. the Galactic, which depend on the amount of energy flow captured by the corresponding civilizations.

A type one civilization is one that is able to use an amount of energy equal to all the stellar energy that falls on the surface of its planet from the local star. For us on Earth, it would be and average of 1.74 x 1017 Watts. In 1973 astronomer Carl Sagan estimated that Earth represented a Type 0.7 civilization. For a discussion about energy usage on various scales, check out a previous post on 'Energy Units'. For an entertaining definition of the problems and its scales, view the video, The Most Advanced Civilization In The Universe. Total solar energy falling on the earth in one year =1.74e+17* 365.25*24. 1.525284e+21 Watt-hour/total earth population of 7.8e9 people = 1.96e11 Wh =1.96e8 kWh, available energy per person. "The average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,972 kilowatthours (kWh)" (source), or 1.1e4 kWh.

Obviously a civilization has to remain stable to be able to advance to an ever higher Kardashev level. That civilization has to become more peaceful both at the top and bottom levels and, become ever wiser. We cannot afford to leave nebbishes in charge and let the morons order us about. To remain stable in the face of advance, the people must be able to trust each other and those who represent them in government. Further, the government cannot issue arbitrary edicts and tell lies if it wants to maintain the trust of the people. From that perspective, our civilization is in a very fragile state.

"CRISPR is making it much easier to generate genetically modified animals and plants, creating new regulatory issues that scientists, agencies, politicians, and, ultimately, society must address." Jon Cohen

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