Stephen Hawking warns we could have as little as 200 years to abandon Earth for a new home amongst the stars.
The warning comes as Professor Hawking spoke at the Starmus Festival in Trondheim, Norway, which celebrates science and the arts. The combined threats of global warming and nuclear war have narrowed humanity’s survival window to be between 200 and 500 years, he said.
Hawking also had some harsh words for US President Donald Trump for his decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate agreement, saying, “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 change this world has seen.”
His speech wasn’t all doom and gloom, however. Hawking also called on leading nations to return to the Moon by 2020 to renew interest in space exploration, without which humanity will be doomed.
“Spreading out into space will completely change the future of humanity,” he said.
The professor went on to provide a timetable for when humanity should establish a lunar colony as well as manned missions to Mars. A colony on the moon should exist within 30 years, and men should be walking on Mars by 2025, he said.
However, Hawking didn't stop at just our solar system. In partnership with Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, Hawking has founded the Breakthrough Starshot project. The project aims to send a fleet of tiny 'nanocraft' to explore our nearest galactic neighbor, Alpha Centauri. The craft operate via light sails which harness light itself as a means of travel.
“If we succeed we will send a probe to Alpha Centauri within the lifetime of some of you alive today,” he announced to a rapt crowd. The miniature, camera-equipped probes would be thrust into space via gigawatts of energy from an array of lasers while already in orbit.
“If humanity is to continue for another million years, our future lies in boldly going where no-one else has gone before.”
Professor Hawking is also set to host a new BBC documentary, titled Expedition Earth, as it explores how humans might exist in outer space. The program will be part of the Expedition New Earth series set to air on BBC2.