Hawking: Colonize The Stars Or Face Possible Extinction
By James Donahue
Famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has opened his new UK/Canadian documentary discovery
series with a warning to mankind – the colonization of outer space will be key to the survival of the human race.
“We are entering an increasingly dangerous period of our history,” Hawking
said in an interview with The Canadian Press at Cambridge. “Our population and our use of the finite resources of planet
Earth are growing exponentially, along with our technical ability to change the environment for good or ill. But our genetic
code still carries the selfish and aggressive instincts that were of survival advantage in the past. It will be difficult
enough to avoid disaster in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand or million.”
Hawking said he sees space exploration to be mankind’s most urgent mission.
“Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain lurking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space.”
The man’s message is correct. But Hawking must know better than anyone just
how futile his challenge stands in today’s troubled world. Because of the Bush tax cuts, the estimated one trillion
dollars wasted in unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the big bank bailouts in 2008, the nation is so financially
strapped it has cut spending for the NASA Space program and stripped the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of most of its
teeth. Consequently we face runaway air, water and ground pollution by big corporate interests at the same time we have abandoned
opportunities to search the stars for a place to run as the planet dies under our feet.
The Hawking proposal is that nations get busy immediately and explore ways to establish
colonies on places like the moon, Mars or possibly even Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter where evidence of water has been
discovered. Traces of water have been detected at the poles of Mars.
Researchers generally agree that it would be technically possible to send men to
Mars and even colonize that distant planet. But the success of such a dangerous mission would depend heavily on finding water
and a way of producing food and oxygen to allow for long-term occupancy. Turning Mars into a haven for humans to escape to
after Planet Earth goes into its death throes is another story.
Even more daunting would be the possibility of colonizing the ice-cold moon Europa
and successfully sending a delegation of pilgrims that far into space.
Even if we could accomplish such far-reaching goals, and find a way to do it within
the next decade, how would a financially stricken and overcrowded world running out of resources manage to generate the industrial
might to build such an enterprise? And once it was done, who would dare to step into that first experimental craft venturing
out to colonize such far distant and deadly places?
Indeed, we might draw parallels with the colonists that set sail in the fail sailing
ships that brought them to the New World when the North American continents were settled. The difference was that once they
crossed that vast ocean, there was land, air and fresh water waiting for them on the other side.
Rather than look for new territories to inhabit it seems much more sensible to work
collectively to protect and care for the planet we have. This is our true home in space and from where we sit it appears to
be the only true home we will ever have. It is time to change our ways and let our Mother heal.