Stephen Hawking: "I Am Convinced That Humans Need to Leave Earth."

Thursday, 22 June 2017 - 11:59AM
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Thursday, 22 June 2017 - 11:59AM
Stephen Hawking: "I Am Convinced That Humans Need to Leave Earth."
Image credit: NASA

Many scientists will wholeheartedly agree that climate change is the most pressing threat facing humans today. Legendary theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking doesn't disagree. However, he thinks that because we have already damaged the Earth so much, we must place our focus on space exploration. Specifically, Professor Hawking urges that we build a base on the Moon within 30 years and reach Mars by 2025. Hawking says "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."

It's a lot to accomplish, but besides offering a potential escape route from Earth, Hawking adds that it would reignite humanity's sense of purpose:

Opening quote
"A new and ambitious space programme would excite [young people], and stimulate interest in other areas, such as astrophysics and cosmology...Spreading out into space will completely change the future of humanity. I hope it would unite competitive nations in a single goal, to face the common challenge for us all."
Closing quote


Is it a realistic goal for humans to leave Earth? It's certainly ambitious, but Hawking asserts that "[w]e 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."

At present, the idea of humanity spreading out into the cosmos is unrealistic. But the more we battle against the consequences of climate change, it starts to seem like a more viable option. And, while we might not have the technology yet to make such a drastic transition, Hawking might have a point: the only way to reach the stars is to start with relatively small steps—the Moon and Mars. Giving humanity a common goal and advancing scientifically, all while potentially giving us a way out if all else fails? Not a terrible plan.

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