Renowned theoretical astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has put out a doomsday warning that we should probably pay close attention to. According to him, humanity is at risk of wiping itself out, thanks to the looming dangers of nuclear war, global warming and genetically-engineered viruses. One of the only remaining solutions is to literally leave the planet. However, that obviously presents its own set of problems.
He said, "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. However, we will not establish self-sustaining colonies in space for at least the next hundred years, so we have to be very careful in this period."
Hawking will be giving this year's BBC Reith Lectures in the field of black holes, and this warning came in response to audience questions. He claimed that the same progress in science and technology that we all strive for is also creating innumerable ways in which things can go severely wrong. "As such, we should look to recognise the dangers and control them in order to ensure our continuing survival," he said.
"It's important to ensure that these (scientific) changes are heading in the right directions. In a democratic society, this means that everyone needs to have a basic understanding of science to make informed decisions about the future."