“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.”
“I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet,” he added.
That comes from a speech that Hawking gave today at Oxford University Union.
This isn’t the first time he’s mentioned the idea, but this deadline of 1000 years appears to be new. To add to that, Hawking also said earlier this year that the next 100 years will be humanity’s most difficult to overcome in order to avoid the annihilation of our species.
I think that if the tenets of his rationale that led him to arrive at this conclusion hold true, this could be shortened to hundreds of years instead of thousands if the Trump administration ignores all of the steps taken to save our planet’s environment. Who knows? (Besides Hawking.) Within the next four years the math could change to more like 200-500 years if our world governments don’t ensure the sustainability of our planet’s resources before we have to blow this rock. (Then again, admittedly, I’m not thinking terribly clearly about science-based issues since the election and our “post-truth” reality. It’s entirely possible that we could see a hard push towards green energy under Trump in the US if things line up correctly.)
Overall, though, Hawking was optimistic during the speech:
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
A mixture of an optimistic outlook with a realistic one seems a good way to stay grounded. But how does one go about being realistic in a post-truth world? Is it even linguistically possible?
Source: Washington Post: Stephen Hawking just gave humanity a due date for finding another planet.
Secondary Source: Stephen Hawking says humans have 1,000 years to find a new planet