Time to Move to the Moon, Says Stephen Hawking

Public Domain. / 1963 model of the early Apollo lunar lander concept. (WIkimedia Commons)

Convinced that our time on Earth is short, the astrophysicist says we should (and could) hit the moon within 30 years.

Trondheim, Norway is hosting the star-studded space-and-music mash-up known as the Starmus Festival this week, and given that Stephen Hawking loves both science and rock music, he delivered a speech to the lucky crowd via video link. Titled “The future of humanity,” the 75-year-old Hawking said, “Earth is under threat from so many areas that it is difficult for me to be positive.”

“We are running out of space, and the only place we can go to are other worlds. It is time to explore other solar systems,” said the wise cosmologist. “Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this from Hawking. Late last year the physicist gave us 1,000 years before we’d have to hightail it from our planet; in May he bumped the schedule up to within the next 100 years.

As the Washington Post reports, Hawking gives a host of reasons why we might need to skedaddle. There's the extraterrestrial apocalypses, such as asteroid impacts “guaranteed by the laws of physics and probability." And if the asteroids don't get us, there's always the melting polar ice caps, loss of animal life, dwindling physical resources, and other grim scenarios that we seem hell-bent on achieving.

“The Earth is becoming too small for us,” he said. Not to mention too hot; even if President Trump does not agree. Hawking – one of the smartest people on the planet, mind you – says Trump “may just have taken the most serious and wrong decision on climate change this world has seen. I am arguing for the future of humanity and a long-term strategy to achieve this.”

Hawking’s travel plan looks something like this: Countries should work together in the creation of a moon colony within 30 years. We can get to Mars in the next decade or so, with a base following several decades later. After that? “Alpha Centauri system is a promising target, except that with current technology,” he said, “interstellar travel is utterly impractical.”

Given that the head of the European Space Agency, Johann-Dietrich Woerner, says that we’ll have the technology to build a moon village in around 20 years, we might be right on track.

“The human race has existed as a separate species for about 2 million years. Civilization began about 10,000 years ago, and the rate of development has been steadily increasing,” Hawking said. “If humanity is to continue for another million years, our future lies in boldly going where no one else has gone before.”

Hopefully, we’ll just tread a bit more lightly once we get there.