Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking says human beings are running out of space, the Earth is under threat from climate change, and our physical resources are being drained at an alarming rate. Therefore, humanity must focus its efforts on exploring new worlds and must leave this planet as soon as possible in order to survive.
Speaking at the Starmus Festival in Trondheim, Hawking warned humanity will have to head for the stars in the next 200 to 500 years if it is to survive:
“The Earth is under threat from so many areas that it is difficult for me to be positive. The threats are too big and too numerous. Our physical resources are being drained at an alarming rate. We have given our planet the disastrous gift of climate change. Rising temperatures, reduction of the polar ice caps, deforestation and decimation of animal species. We can be an ignorant, unthinking lot.”
He noted that in the past, when humans faced similar crises in terms of resources, they moved to discover and colonize new parts of the world:
“Columbus did it in 1492 when he discovered the New World. But now there is no new world. No Utopia around the corner. We are running out of space and the only places to go to are other worlds. It is time to explore other solar systems. Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth.”
Hawking pointed out that there are an estimated 1,000 stars within 30 light years of Earth, so “if just 1% of these have Earth-sized planets, we have 10 candidate New Worlds to move to.” Warning that the human race was “standing at the threshold of a new era,” he added:
“Human colonization on other planets is no longer science fiction. It can be science fact. The human race has existed as a separate species for about two million years. Civilization began about 10,000 ago, and the rate of development has been steadily increasing. If humanity is to continue for another million years, our future lies in boldly going where no one else has gone before. I hope for the best. I have to. We have no other option.”
When asked whether it would be better to spend our money on solving the problems of this planet, he replied:
“I am not denying the importance of fighting climate change and global warming, unlike Donald Trump, who may just have taken the most serious, and wrong, decision on climate change this world has seen. I am arguing for the future of humanity and a long-term strategy to achieve this.”
In order to become a multi-planetary species, the 75-year-old professor wants humanity to land on Moon by 2020, send astronauts to Mars by 2025, and build a lunar base in the next 30 years.
“There was no long-term future for our species staying on Earth: it would either be hit by an asteroid again or eventually engulfed by our own Sun. Travelling to distant worlds would elevate humanity. Whenever we make a great new leap, such as the Moon landings, we bring people and nations together, usher in new discoveries, and new technologies. To leave Earth demands a concerted global approach, everyone should join in. We need to rekindle the excitement of the early days of space travel in the sixties.”
For years, Hawking has warned that humanity faces extinction from a slew of threats ranging from nuclear war to global warming, and from genetically-modified viruses to ruling elites. Recently, he estimated that humanity may only have 100 years to populate another planet if the race is to survive.