Stephen Hawking is Right

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.




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5 responses to “Stephen Hawking is Right

  1. Anonymous

    I say we have no right to F up another planet. If we die on earth, we die, and maybe another species can take its time to evolve and be dominant. Or maybe not. What if there were no more humans? Is it that important to persevere at all costs, if we have proved coexistence and preserving our own habitat seems impossible for us as a species?
    As a woman (of your generation), I would not encourage any other women to leave. Also, largely, men’s greed has caused all the problems on this planet. I see no reason not to believe that same testosterone fueled greed would ruin the next planet and the next.

    • As individuals, we have an impulse, a tendency, an urgent instinct to survive. I think that counts for the species as a whole. At any rate, I vote yes on survival of the human race.

  2. Anonymous

    I understand, but we go past survival. My mother taught me to respect the aboriginal peoples who didn’t take more from nature than they required. Maybe it is white people, or “civilized” people, or colonizers, or warlords, who overfish, overmine, overexploit the planet. I don’t vote for survival at any cost.
    Female animals do cull their own offspring, sometimes because there are too many, sometimes because they are too weak, sometimes because she was too young. The survival of the female individual doesn’t always include procreation.
    Also the young women in your scenario become resources. What if the beloved husband of one dies on the new planet? Is she compelled to breed with someone else even if she doesn’t want to? Becomes a little Handmaid’s Tale at some point. The men can use IVF and science to start their Brave New World.
    I say we find a way to save this planet, share the resources, save the habitats, and leave the other planets alone, or forget it. The human race without its earthly companions doesn’t deserve survival.
    We wouldn’t be the first species to go extinct. And our actions resemble mass suicide (man-made diseases, famines, wars, climate change.)
    Colonization is one of our original sins. I know I am rambling, but I have felt strongly AGAINST other world colonization since I was a little girl (who loved science fiction, but loved conservation and ecology more).

  3. Anonymous

    Me again.
    For example:
    This is what man, the species, does. If man, the species, goes extinct, it will be because he wrecked the planet. I can’t stand the idea of wrecking another one. Better man, the species, is exterminated with the planet he destroyed.

    • It’s true that as people we’re not always the very best people we can be, but people we are, and we’re all that we have. I’m sure we’re not the only intelligent species in the galaxy to have experienced some growing pains.
      Besides, if you don’t want to colonize other planets, don’t go. There will be plenty of volunteers, of both sexes. I’m quite confident of that.

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