Of course, the title is lazy thinking. “Stephen Hawking is right” is the safe bet in any argument, being as how he’s the smartest man in the world and all.
The question at issue is his recent statement that the human race needs to find a new planet within the next hundred years, or the human race will go extinct. While I would question the 100 year number, there is little doubt that humanity must eventually become an interstellar species or perish. That’s mathematically inevitable. I’d say, it might as well be within the next hundred years, even if he’s wrong.
Also, there’s the question of what he means by ‘find a new planet.’ Actually beginning the migration to an Earth like world around another sun is not going to happen at our current level of technology and we might have a couple of centuries to go before we can build a Stanford Taurus with a random probability drive capable of housing a significant population, maintaining life support systems, and making it to another star system before everybody on board is dead. All the more reason to start now.
What IS within our reach within the next 100 years is a few more space stations, colonies on our own moon, Mars, and maybe Titan and Europa, mining operations going on in the asteroid belt and, one I would dearly like to see although the technology to build it doesn’t actually exist yet, a space elevator.
That could be enough. If a gamma ray burst or an asteroid hits Earth and kills every living thing on its surface or, at least, anything bigger than a rat, it will be the colonists of the moon and Mars who will have to carry on and rebuild the species.
So, a good percentage of those colonists needs to be women. Young women. Otherwise you’re going to wind up with a couple hundred pissed off and very frustrated male astronauts, waiting to die and knowing the human race dies with them.