Could our days on Earth truly be numbered? It certainly seems to be the point of view one of the smartest men on the planet is taking. Giving a speech at the recent Starmus Festival in Norway, Stephen Hawking explained that the only way for us to avoid the dangers coming from both the Earth’s surface and its outer space proximity is to leave Earth altogether.
Physicist, cosmologist, and still a University of Cambridge professor at the age of 75, Steven Hawking took the opportunity at the Starmus Festival this Tuesday to explain just how overdue mankind is on further colonization. Planet’s population has reached a point where it’s no longer sustainable by the resources at hand, and unlike in the previous centuries and millennia, there are no new lands to explore and inhabit.
The number of people on Earth aside, the climate change that we’ve “graced” our planet with is yet another issue rolling out of our hands further and further away each day. Whether we’re able to handle its consequences or not is questionable at the least, and professor Hawking suggests we ought to turn away from it completely and start anew on a different planet. Moreover, he added the problems of melting polar ice caps, depleting physical resources and loss of animal life to the scale, trying to tip it over to his cause.
“Over 1,800 potentially hazardous objects have been discovered so far, but there are many more waiting to be found. Astronomers find Near-Earth Asteroids every day and most are harmless.… although we are much better at finding larger asteroids, that does us no good if we are not prepared to do something about them.”
And if Earthly problems aren’t enough to persuade you, Hawking turned to outer space for data, saying that there are undeniable chances of Earth being hit by one of large objects flying around. Even though we’ve become quite good at tracking such objects, there isn’t much we can do. Asteroid impacts are “guaranteed by the laws of physics and probability,” imploring that if we don’t inhabit the Moon or Mars within the next 100 years, we are likely facing doom on Earth.
The professor believes that the first lunar base could be built within 30 years, and that a Martian outpost could be established in the next 50. Given that these planets are the closest to us, they present a perfect opportunity for initial colonies, but Hawking extends his idea to other planets as well, ones that are inhabitable and support life, but aren’t in our solar system.