The Value of L

Well, I had planned to write my blog this morning about the Drake Equation, particularly the L factor, or average length of time a communicative species (that is, one capable of communicating with species from other planets) can exist, because I read somewhere that 10,000 years was the figure they were using, and I feel that’s overly arbitrary for reasons I’ll get into in a moment, but I checked Wikipedia first, in order not to make a damn fool of myself, and found out the current, most scientific estimate for L is ‘somewhere between 1,000 years and 100 million years,’ which is the equivalent of looking for a needle in a desert.
For a bit of context, human beings have been a communicative species for a bit under a hundred years, if you count from the invention of television, or a bit over a hundred years if you count from the invention of radio. We might not even make it to 1,000, which would make a mockery of the whole equation, but since we’d no longer exist, it would not matter.
My own personal feeling on this is that it’s probably 50/50 on which communicative species survive, it depends on one factor, and those who make it to 1,000 years (which we will do in about the year 2900) will probably last until the end of the galaxy and maybe longer, billions and billions of years into the future.
The factor is whether a given civilization accepts science or not. We have the science needed to save ourselves from global warming, but a huge percentage of our species just won’t accept it, and that is dangerous. We have the science to build a distant early warning and defense system to protect us from random asteroids, we are close to being able to predict and mitigate the effects of earthquakes and volcanoes, and we’re getting better at dealing with plagues.
Pretty much anything that could wipe us out as a species, we have the science needed to protect us, but we also have a huge percentage of our population which not only doesn’t understand, but refuses to accept, that science.
But, my guess is if we make it to the Drake minimum of 1,000 years, we will exist virtually (old meaning, meaning close as no matter) forever.

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