Stephen Hawking’s Warning: Abandon Earth—Or Face Extinction

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Even if the human race manages not to push itself to the brink of nuclear extinction, it is still a foregone conclusion that our aging sun will expand and swallow the Earth in roughly 7.6 billion years.

So, according to famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, it’s time to free ourselves from Mother Earth. “I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space,” Hawking tells Big Think. “It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let’s hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.”

Finally, between the next thousand years or so that Hawking says it will take man to make the planet uninhabitable and the billion years it will take for the sun to turn our planet into an arid wasteland, there is always the chance that a nearby supernova, an asteroid, or a quick and painless black hole could do us in.

This is the same message that I gave in my reflections on David Christians big history talk at Techonomy.

I noted that when two aspects of Christians talk are combined, that the dinosaurs were killed by an asteroid and humanity needs to have a longer view. 100 years ago we were just developing airplane technology, but within 80 years there was extensive global travel on 10,000 planes moving 100 million people per year. The same shift will be happening for space travel. There has been a lag in the development of true space capabilities, but those capabilities are coming. There are several possiblities for spaceplanes. True industrialization of space will enable large scale migration. The solar system has one million times the resources of the earth and billions of times the energy. Bigger and bolder solutions are possible.

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