Physicist warns humans will need to leave Earth for the species to survive.
Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking told his audience at Oxford University he believes humans are not likely to survive the next 1,000 years on Earth and calls for continuation of space research to find a suitable new home to keep the species alive, according to a Washington Post article.
“I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet,” commented Hawking in his hour-long speech. He continued by saying the demise of Earth could be hastened by humans themselves, as they continue to devour the world’s resources at unsustainable rates.
But he also said the longer we remain on the planet, the more likely a catastrophic mass extinction will occur.
Despite the dire warnings, Hawking referred to the present as a “glorious time to be alive and doing research into theoretical physics. Our picture of the universe has changed a great deal in the last 50 years, and I am happy if I have made a small contribution.”
The audience was made up of attendees of the BBC Ruth Lectures, and his comments were made during a Question and Answer period, during which he commented the best hope of survival for the human species was leaving Earth behind. He noted the next 100 years would be a precarious time for the inhabitants of Earth.
“Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next thousand or ten thousand years. By that time we should have spread out into space, and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the human race,” he remarked.
Over the years, NASA has identified over 4,600 possible new worlds that may be able to sustain life as we know it, but the technology that would allow for travel to and colonization of any such worlds is far into the future.
Hawking also warned the same type of technology could also be a potential threat to human survival as well. He famously told the BBC back as far as 2014 that he believed the development of full artificial intelligence could bring about the end of the human race.
Hawking adds we must continue to go into space for the future of humanity.