Stephen Hawking is known for his sometimes-adventurous remarks, but the latest in his observational comments involves the time mankind has remaining to develop a means for interplanetary colonization before the Earth ultimately becomes overpopulated and we all die from one cause or another.
He was quoted previously for giving mankind around 1,000 years before some major catastrophe would wipe us all out. He also noted how becoming an interplanetary species could help change all that, but his new perspective gives the previous timeframe a 10x boost in urgency.
Hawking now says that we have just 100 years to become an interplanetary species or mankind will ultimately meet its maker.
It sounds like Hawking is playing doomsayer here, but he may have a realistic point. After all, the world’s population continues to increase and we continue to knock down our valuable forests to build housing developments for everyone to live.
Eventually, we won’t have nearly enough forests left to filter the CO2 from our air and produce the fresh oxygen we need to breathe.
But that’s not the alarming part; there’s also the very realistic idea that whenever planet Earth becomes the target of a disaster, such as the devastation of climate change, a major asteroid impact, nuclear war, or even self-aware artificial intelligence, the human race could ultimately be wiped out.
Hawking and many other well-known individuals who dabble in the scientific world have routinely expressed the importance of mankind becoming an interplanetary species. If this were to happen, one planet could be struck by a disaster and the others would remain, which means mankind could survive.
As a civilization, mankind has been trying hard to come up with ways to populate Mars in the near future, but there is certainly interest in putting mankind on various plants throughout the galaxy, assuming we can ever get to them.
It’s doubtful we’ll ever get mankind to planets in other systems within the next 100 years, but it may not be too far out of reach to put ourselves on Mars, as NASA and other space organizations are dealing with the realistic goal of putting the first astronauts on the red planet within the next 20-30 years.
While Hawking’s words make you stop and think about what’s really going to happen in the near future, one really can’t argue with how cool it would be to have mankind on more planets than just one. It would make life a lot more interesting and would help preserve our life forms in the event that one planet faced a major catastrophe.