Stephen Hawking: humankind must colonise space

10 Aug 2010

We are entering the most dangerous phase of human history and must colonise space with earth’s growing population rather than risk the destruction of our planet, warns physicist Stephen Hawking.

In an interview with website Big Think, the astrophysicist said we will be lucky to have near misses like the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1963 because the frequency of such events is likely to continue.

“I see great dangers for the human race. There have been a number of times in the past when its survival has been a question of touch and go,” he said.

Meanwhile, the rapidly growing population and question of finite resources is putting a strain on the planet.

“I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space. It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million,” said Hawking.

“If we can avoid disaster for the next two centuries, our species should be safe, as we spread into space.”

Hawking did not specify where in space we are most likely to go, but given the nature of the universe it might be easy to consider orbiting space stations with sustainable ecosystems.

He added that the human race had made great progress in the past 100 years and that if we want this to continue into the next 100 years that our future is in space.

“That is why I’m in favour of manned, or should I say ‘personed’ space flight,” he added.