Stephen Hawking, a renowned physicist and cosmologist, has warned that human beings will have to become a multi-planetary species and start living in other planets in next 100 years to avoid extinction.
He and a team of his students made this prediction keeping in view the growing human population, degradation of environment and other catastrophes, which include climate change, asteroid strikes, and epidemics.
Does Hawking's statement have some truth in it or is this a superficial prediction? The fact is that we cannot know it before next 100 years pass by.
Read on to know the details about the prediction, its validity and counter-points.
He made this prediction in an upcoming BBC documentary film to be released in summer 2017. The new documentary, which is titled, Expedition New Earth, discusses the existential risks that human race is presently facing, which include climate change, overpopulation, epidemics and asteroid strikes.
There have been sustained efforts to create a human colony on Mars. One such effort has been attepted by billionaire Elon Musk who hopes to establish a settlement within the next few decades through his aerospace manufacturing and space transport services company, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, popularly known as SpaceX that was founded in 2002 and is headquartered in Hawthorne, California.
On September 27, 2016, Musk had announced via web video that describes how SpaceX will get people from Earth to Mars. "I don't have a doomsday prophecy. What I'm really trying to do is to make Mars seem possible," he said. In the video, he is heard saying, "There will be some extinction event. I don't have some doomsday prophecy. The alternative is to become a space-going species. Which, I hope you would agree is the right way to go."
In November 2016, Hawking had given a deadline to humanity to find another planet to inhabit in next 1,000 years. In an interview at the Oxford University Union, Hawking had said, "Although the chance of 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 1,000 or 10,000 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."
A Professor at Cambridge University, Hawking believes that living on earth places humanity at a greater risk of mass extinction. At an Oxford event, he had said, "We must ... continue to go into space for the future of humanity. I don't think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet."
Hawking's warnings have come at the time when world leaders have expressed concern over global warming. An ardent critic of climate change, Hawking had in an open letter signed by 375 members of National Academy of Sciences, voiced concern about US President Donald Trump's proposal on withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. It is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with climate issues that include greenhouse gases emissions mitigation.
In the letter, the concerned scientists, including Hawking said, "It is of great concern that the Republican nominee for President has advocated US withdrawal from Paris Accord."
The precarious climate condition has led scientists to worry about the sustainability of the planet. It is for this reason that the Oxford Union warnings made by Hawking should be taken seriously. The Union's statements made by Hawking also had some positive news for the students, who had assembled to listen to him.
Talking about the advancement of our understanding of the universe, he said, "It is glorious time to be alive and do 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 fact that we humans, who are ourselves mere fundamental particles of nature, have been able to come this close to understanding the laws that govern us and the universe, is certainly a triumph."