In light of the recent decisions President Trump has made, Stephen Hawking has a message for humanity: Everything is terrible, so let’s go to the Moon and Mars instead.
Some context for you, dear readers – Hawking was speaking to an audience via Skype at the science and arts-themed Starmus festival in Trondheim, Norway, earlier this week. During his lecture, the theoretical physicist touched on a wide variety of topics, which included the future of humanity.
“There is no new world, no utopia around the corner,” Hawking told the crowd. “We are running out of space, and the only places to go to are other worlds.”
He’s been known as of late for his rather pessimistic perspectives, and although this particular speech was no exception, he did flavor his comments with a newfound optimism.
“It is time to explore other solar systems. Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth.”
He elucidated further that traveling to other planets would “elevate humanity". We should aim to go back to the Moon by 2020 in order to build a lunar launch pad within the next three decades; then, we should ensure there are footprints on Mars by 2025.
“We have no other option,” he said. “I hope for the best. I have to.”
Hawking did want everyone to know that he’s not advocating running away from our problems on this pale blue dot of ours, however.
“I am not denying the importance of fighting climate change and global warming, unlike Donald Trump, who may just have taken the most serious and wrong decision on climate this world has seen,” he remarked. “I am arguing for the future of humanity and a long-term strategy to achieve this.”
Hawking has been a climate advocate for some time now, fairly unsurprisingly. He’s spoken out in favor of the Paris agreement and most recently the idea of a federal carbon tax. The President’s climate denial has been a cause of concern, peaking with his decision to withdraw from the historic international pact.
Hawking's comments at Starmus suggest that he sees fixing our own problems on Earth and colonizing other worlds as complimentary issues, not mutually exclusive ones.
In fact, more than anything, he sees space travel as a way to unite humanity around a common scientific and existential cause, just as it did in the 1960s.
“Whenever we make a great new leap, such as the Moon landings, we bring people and nations together, usher in new discoveries, and new technologies,” he said. "To leave Earth demands a concerted global approach – everyone should join in.”