Acclaimed physicist Stephen Hawking believes humanity’s long-term future must be in space. I admire his intellectual dexterity and his accomplishments despite his paralysis, but this particular aspiration seems about as clear as a black hole.
I’m not surprised that he should say it, but there is an element of arrogance in a scientist who believes he can know The Theory of Everything. He shows less interest in a most fundamental thing beside him, our extraordinary planet, than in his intergalactic fantasies.
His message for new generations is thus: Let us use up our resources because life on earth could always be wiped out by some man-made disaster such as nuclear war, global warming or some engineered virus. Something to look forward to! I have never heard apocalyptic predictions as repellent and crass as this, despite Hawking’s reputed intelligence: Flee to space or die out!
The harm such an idea causes to the collective imagination is not to be ignored. The Englishman might help Internet-hooked teenagers understand where they stand, teach them to value life, the earth and the elements and tell them to put their house in order before getting onto a rocket headed for space. Instead, he spreads a pernicious expectation that is ultimately only for the few, not to mention practically impossible for the species as we know it today.