Steven Hawking is Wrong

Steven Hawking is quoted as saying we now only have 100 years to leave Earth and find another habitable planet because those in charge of Earth are going to make it unlivable

I think he is absolutely wrong. The amount of fuel and other resources to get to ANY other known exoplanet for even 1,000 humans is a very large fraction of our present total annual energy and materials output of the entire planet — and would impoverish all the remaining 99.9999% of the population of the planet, even the 1% who currently have way too much.

For a very tiny fraction of those financial and material resources, we could devote some time, thought, planning and resources to make it so that wilderness areas are preserved, we stop filling the atmosphere with CO2 and methane, and we stop causing extinctions and fouling our own nest. In other words, we need to stop screwing up the air, the oceans, the lakes, the rivers, and the land itself. We certainly have all the money to give every living human soul a decent life, and we can preserve wild places so that there still will be wild animals running free on every single continent.

To my knowledge as a fairly avid amateur astronomer, we have yet to find even a single exoplanet that humans could actually exist on. While a number of of exoplanets are calculated to be in the ‘warm-enough’ zones, we don’t yet have any way of telling whether life has arisen on any of them. While at some point, spectroscopes will be able to discern what elements make up their atmosphere, it would be a stretch to say we could tell whether there is in fact life of any sort. If some do have living cells, we would not know what sort of overall chemistry they would have. There is no magic law that we know of that says that every ‘habitable-zone’ planet has lots of liquid water, an atmosphere that we would find breathable, and living cells based on RNA, DNA, and chlorophyll.

If we were so lucky as to find such a ‘pink unicorn’ planet around Proxima Centauri, the closest known star –‘only’ about 4 light years away — It would still take about 40 years to get there, at best (if we can get the speed up to  10% of c, the speed of light). Once they arive, the colonists would have to build, pretty much from scratch, all of the resources of NASA, European Space Agency, and those of Russia, China and India — combined. Which might take 50 – 100 years if they work really fast, so it could easily take one or two centuries for the first voyagers to return from Proxima Centauri – the very closest possible known exoplanet system.

No thanks.

No thank you to the idea of leaving this beautiful blue Planet Earth en masse. It’s the only place in the entire universe that we KNOW you can find a place that is reminiscent of Heaven. Yes, life is Hell for many of its residents, but with the proper amount of good will, we could fix that. Sure, let’s keep exploring with robotic drones and orbiting and Earth-based telescopes. It’s fine to send some expeditions to Mars and other places in our Solar System that have human crews, after we’ve made it a bit safer and affordable. But don’t believe for a minute that there is any other place in our Solar System where people can safely and affordably settle and raise families!

Let’s clean up our own nest instead of fouling it up some more for some crack-pot idea of massively escaping the ONE. AND. ONLY. KNOWN. HABITABLE. PLANET. IN. THE. ENTIRE. UNIVERSE.

Yes, it’s true that the owners of the large corporations and those who run governments and even small farmers, fishermen and the rest of us all over the planet are in fact screwing up Planet Earth almost as fast as we can. Our continued use of fossil fuels and generation of smog and water pollution goes on apace. However, we know how to fix all of that. It’s not hard, and many places have instituted protections (regulations) that will slow it down and eventually turn it all around.

Let’s fix Earth, not dream of leaving it.

Sorry, Dr Hawking, you are wrong.


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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Glib statements with round numbers in them shouldn’t be taken seriously. But … I do not see that we cannot pursue both approaches. We are not, you may notice, still in Africa. We pushed out and explored.

    And projections based on current capabilities are rarely correct. I read a 1906 article in Scientific American claiming that solar power was about to explode, as soon as we found a more viable storage device for electricity than the lead-acid storage battery. Well, we haven’t yet found those damned batteries, although we are closer, but solar power is now become a real payer in global energy markets through the simple expedient of injecting the output of substantial facilities into electric power grids. (Don’t store, use it … replacing energy generated by other means (electricity stored as coal left in the ground).)

    So thinking and technologies change. I can’t imagine a “run for the borders” warning from a prominent scientist is going to have much of an effect because it is not based upon any analysis, just a “hunch.” And I can’t see that Dr. Hawking’s hunches are any better than yours or mine.

    On Mon, May 8, 2017 at 12:21 PM, GFBrandenburg’s Blog wrote:

    > gfbrandenburg posted: “Steven Hawking is quoted as saying we now only have > 100 years to leave Earth and find another habitable planet because those in > charge of Earth are going to make it unlivable I think he is absolutely > wrong. The amount of fuel and other resources to get t” >


    • If you read my piece to the end you will see that I definitely advocate exploration! But emigration to another planet? Not unless we figure out a way to make the laws of physics — as we understand them today — to be optional.

      Sent from my iPhone



  2. cc this to Elon Musk and all of the other Mars Colony folks. Same difference.


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