So, my esteemed ScienceBloggers Grrrscientist and PZ Myers have weighed in on Stephen Hawking’s recent comments regarding the state of the planet and what we’re suppost to do about it. To paraphrase, he believes that humans should be actively cultivating colonies on the Moon or beyond, in the increasingly likely event that something disastous happens on Earth.
“It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species,” Hawking said. “Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of.”
Good point, but he also states that….
“We won’t find anywhere as nice as Earth unless we go to another star system..”
Therefore, to me this seems like trashing a mansion and then moving into the tiny guesthouse, just because we don’t feel like cleaning up the mansion. Earth will alway, always, always be the most comfortable and most suitable place for human life. The reason is obvious: we have all evolved that way. Our genes, and hence our bodies and minds, have been bent around this planet over the billions of years that life has existed. It is certainly possible, through the tricks of technology that we keep getting better at, to one day survive outside the Earth. But are we really so childish, and so lazy, as to prefer finding a “brand new planet” rather than revive and protect the best option we’ll ever have?
On the other hand, I’ll be the first to throw a buck in the collection plate for space exploration galore. Learning more about the universe will:
a) Provide more evidence with which to embarrass ID-ers
b) Teach us more about the world we live in, and hence, ourselves
c) Perhaps will provide us with new materials and resources
d) Make contact with other life
f) Get cool Hubble telescope pictures to be used as Windows desktops by nerds
g) Provide a last resort getaway, should true disaster strike
h) Spawn terrific space-based dramas (I wonder if Hawking likes Star Trek?)
Ok, off topic here, but who wouldn’t love to see a fight between William Shatner and Stephen Hawking? I’m sure he’s got some deadly-cool gadgets in that chair. And we all know that Shatner can throw a mean sucker-punch…..