Saturday, November 19, 2016

Steven Hawkings' prediction

                                      Comments due on or before Nov. 27, 2016

Stephen Hawking thinks humanity has only 1,000 years left of survival on Earth and that our species needs to colonize other planets.
The famed physicist made the statement in a speech at Oxford University Union, in which he promoted the goal of searching for and colonizing Earth-like exoplanets. Developing the technology to allow humans to travel to and live on faraway alien worlds is a challenge, to say the least. But is Hawking right that humanity has only 1,000 years to figure it out?
The dangers Hawking cited — from climate change, to nuclear weapons, to genetically engineered viruses — could indeed pose existential threats to our species, experts say, but predicting a millennium into the future is a murky business.
"While I respect Stephen Hawking enormously, speculating on how long Homo sapiens will survive before extinction is foolish," said John Sterman, director of the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative. "Whether we survive and thrive or descend into chaos is not something to predict or lay odds on, but a choice to be made." [Top 10 Ways to Destroy Earth]
If climate change continues apace, it will likely lead to a great deal of friction for the human species.
"There may be incredible amounts of food and water stress in some regions; combined with sea-level rise, this will lead to massive numbers of environmental refugees — enough to make the Syrian diaspora seem simple to absorb," said Shawn Marshall, a professor of geography and a climate change researcher at the University of Calgary in Canada.
Humanity is surviving now only by depleting the planet's natural resources and poisoning its environment, Sterman told Live Science. The nonprofit Global Footprint Network estimates that humanity uses up the resources of 1.5 Earths each year, essentially overdrawing from the planet's natural bank account. The problems of sustainability can't wait 1,000 years, Sterman said.
"Whether we can prevent damaging climate change, and the broader issue of whether we can learn to live within the limits of our finite world, will likely be determined this century," he said.
Emmanuel Vincent, a research scientist at the University of California, Merced and founder of the outreach organization Climate Feedback, echoed the call to make sustainable decisions now.
"It is important to remind [people] that one cannot predict whether a catastrophic event will wipe out humans within the next thousand years," Vincent told Live Science. "What Hawking is doing here is speculating on the risk that this will happen, and he estimates that the probability of extinction is high. While I agree that this is possible, I would like to emphasize that this primarily depends on how we manage to prevent such catastrophic outcome as a society." [7 Iconic Animals Humans Are Driving to Extinction]
This doesn't mean humans will necessarily go extinct if we make poor choices. Climate-wise, the planet is currently about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than preindustrial averages, Marshall said. (The past year has set multiple modern heat records.)
In comparison, temperatures during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods were about 10 degrees C (18 F) warmer than preindustrial averages, or about 25 degrees C (45 F) compared with today's 16 degrees C (29 F), Marshall said. Yet life was quite abundant at that time, he told Live Science.
"It would be a habitable but rather different world," he said. "We'll run out of fossil fuels before we evaporate the oceans away."  
So humans probably won't manage to actually bake themselves in an oven made of greenhouse gases, though tropical areas may become too hot for habitation, Vincent said. The real question is whether humans would be able to handle the upheaval that climate change would bring as coastlines vanish, diseases spread and weather patterns change.
"On its own, I don't see how climate change would lead to human extinction," Marshall said. "It would have to be through the social unrest triggering nuclear warfare, or some other societal implosion as a result of the environmental degradation."
Already, there are warning signs beyond warming temperatures. About half of global wildlife has been wiped out over the past 50 years, Vincent said. The situation is serious enough that many scientists believe the planet is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction.
"Anyone who thinks we can solve these problems by colonizing other worlds has been watching too much 'Star Trek,'" Sterman said. "We must learn to live sustainably here, on the one planet we have, and there is no time to lose."
(Sustainable Living)


  1. Perhaps the most important concept to this whole discussion is the incredible speed with which the human species perpetuates. As natural and man made deaths diminish due to medicine and knowledge, the population has had little to stave off its eminent growth. While the black plague and the Spanish flu are some of the most well known and progressive challenges to the survival of mankind, they both at their highest estimates account for less than 2% of the population today.
    Instead of a health issue forcing humanity to turn to less pressing issues such as global warming and fossil fuels, there is little more than scientists such as Stephen Hawking and organizations like the WHO to impress the urgency of these matters to mankind.
    This reminds me of an article I read in a previous class on the effectiveness of eliciting change via photographs of children, usually hurt, in the media. The examples are usually violent and graphic: napalm bombings in Vietnam and a naked girl running from them, an emaciated child in Africa being stalked by a vulture, and most recently a child hurt in a bombing in Syria. These images all issued change. While this may sound as if it is off topic and unrelated to some readers, it is at the heart of the issue of the survival of humanity. Until the common person is motivated for reason to participate, whether by pandemic illness, a moving photograph or a speech in the likes of Martin Luther King Jr, these issues will remain - all crucial to our survival. They must be addressed.

  2. This is a very interesting and somewhat concerning topic. Stephen Hawking’s argues that only have 1,000 years left of survival on Earth because of climate change, nuclear weapons, and genetically engineered viruses. These are problems that I believe could have a massive impact on Earth and on our population. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe Earth will no longer be able to sustain humans in the future. I agree and understand that climate-wise humans may not go extinct because of the changes we create. However, climate change has a very real impact on ecosystems, environments, food production, extreme weather, etc., all of which affect how and where we live. If we continue as we have, we will have to deal with the upheaval that climate change will bring about. This includes coastlines disappearing, diseases spreading, weather patterns changing, certain environments becoming uninhabitable and mass extinction of multiple species ensues. These stresses will cause tension between countries as food becomes less easy to obtain, water becomes scarce, homes are lost, and people are consumed by fear. I believe that searching for Earth-like exoplanets is one approach that could help but only if and when we actually push Earth to the point of no return. John Sterman believes that we must take action and find ways to keep Earth sustainable now. Making a difference now can help us avoid these problems in 1,000 years.

  3. What a shocking statement. Although this seems like a big statement, it is not at all complex. Hawking is using a basic concept. If there is a 4% chance you will get cancer each year, then in 10 years you go cancer free, that chance adds up to 40%. But I agree with skeptics of this statement that although the risk only grows, it also really depends on how we manage ourselves year to year and that is hard to predict. However, humans now are not on the right track. In this article, we learn that the human uses an average of 1.5 of earth’s resources each year. That might be rather generous. In another one of my classes, I did the ecological footprint calculator and filled in questions like “what is my electricity bill” and “how many miles do I drive on average” and the result was that it would take 5.1 earths to sustain my consumption habits. And I considered myself a decent consumer, recycling and researching my products. Yet, humans are blind by our current goods and service markets. There is a huge lack of transparency. I just read an article this morning that Aloe Vera creams don’t all contain aloe in them despite their labels because cosmetics are not thoroughly regulated by the FDA. That in itself only increases human’s odds of extinction which is why I think Hawking is so pessimistic. However, if I were given the choice to go to another planet, I would resist. I love the one I’m on and I agree with the article that humans should focus more on fixing the problems we have here instead of running away.

  4. Of course predicting the future of humanity, 1000 years from now is tricky, but what I think Stephen Hawking is trying to say is that all the damages that will affect our species such as climate change, nuclear weapons and genetically engineered viruses is a huge threat to our world. The damages we do to our planet and the natural resources we use up, will eventually cause harm to humans.
    When Hawkings says 1000 years, I don’t think he means exactly 1000 years from now but instead, gives a rough estimate on the period of time we have left to look for other alternatives. I also do believe that there should be more funding for such research. Although I understand what Sternman is trying to say, I think he takes the 1000 years’ element too precisely. On the other hand, another point Sterman makes stating "Humanity is surviving now only by depleting the planet's natural resources and poisoning its environment". When it comes to sustainable living, this is one point that I agree with.
    The importance of sustainable living cannot be stressed enough. Even though Climate change alone might not be the sole cause of human extinction, other tendencies of our society such as nuclear warfare, definitely has the power to destroy almost all species on the planet. Lastly, Sterman's comment on colonizing other planets and watching too much Star trek is a realistic but also closed-minded. I think that if in the future we cannot learn to live sustainably, and colonizing other planets is our only option, he will be on the first flight to the chosen exoplanets.

  5. Although the idea of settling on different planets is very promising, unfortunately, it seems too impossible for me. If science and technology are able to evolve at the pace they are evolving and developing right now, it might be possible but, looking at the situation now, in 2016, I have no choice but to agree with John Sterman. I believe that we need to learn how to live sustainably for our future on this planet. Even if we were to go to other planets and create a new society there, we would surely bring our old habits with us. If we do no know how to live sustainable here, how can we live sustainable on another planet? It will be the same story again until we destroy that planet and start our search for the next one. This all does sound a little ridiculous to me and almost impossible. Even though I agree with Stephen Hawking on the point of humanity becoming extinct due to our own faults, I do not believe the answer is to search for other planets. I hope that mankind can soon realize the seriousness of the matter and act quick before its too late. If we do continue to live this way, there will be major food and water shortages in some areas of the world which will cause migration and from what we have seen in current events, many populations are afraid of migration. The idea of having masses of people on small part of land, fighting for resources does seem like a post-apocalypse scenario. The environmental problems we face are very real. So real that it puts our whole species at risk, but the solution is not in other planets. It's here.

  6. Stephen Hawking argues that we have 1000 years left on Earth before humans can no longer survive due to three things: climate change, nuclear weapons, and genetically engineered viruses. While I do not agree that 1000 years is an accurate number to assume, I do agree that we need to change our habits on the planet. If people continue using resources as quickly and wastefully as they do know, we are going to dig ourselves into a hole we can't get out of. Sustainability is an extremely important factor in preserving the planet we inhabit, and if we don't learn to change our habits now, they're only going to grow more out of control, and eventually resources will run out.

    While moving to another planet is not the most reasonable idea, I understand why it is in here as "a suggestion". It's more of a scare tactic that let's people know that if we continue doing things they way we do now, eventually living here will no longer be an option and the only choice will be to "move to another planet" if we want to survive. Will the human population only last 1000 more years like Hawking says? There is no way to know. Are we using up all of the resources we have too quickly? Probably.

    John Sterman is completely correct when he comments on Hawkins statement saying "Whether we survive and thrive or descend into chaos is not something to predict or lay odds on, but a choice to be made." If we want to remain confident that the human population and the Earth will survive for a great deal longer, we need to choose to change the way we use resources, and we need to choose to live sustainable so that climate change and a plethora of other problems don't end up depleting all of the things human's rely on to survive.

  7. Although this article may seem very extreme to some people, the points and concerns raised are very real. We live on a planet with countless threats to our existence. Some of these threats as discussed in the article range from climate change, nuclear weapons, lack of resources and even genetically engineered viruses. We are destroying and poisoning the planet we live on and need to make changes immediately to continue living on the planet we all love. I think the idea that we can live on other planets seems impossible. I agree with John Sterman and think we should worry about fixing the problems we created on our own planet before we create problems on a different planet. Taking environmentally friendly initiatives like cutting back on pollution and being more sustainable with our resources will allow us to live on Earth for longer.

  8. Stephen Hawking points out that humanity has only 1,000 years left of survival on Earth. It is obvious that this is a shocking statement. With the development of society, humans deplete the natural resources and damage the environment. The speed of the usage of natural resources is faster than the speed of generating the natural resources, which means that there will be no available natural resources in the future on Earth. In addition, humans'activities pollute the environment and lead to the change of climate. In this way, humans will not have habitats to live. Therefore,Stephen Hawking states that people only have 1,000 years to live on Earth and move to other planet. We cannot ensure whether this statement is true or false, but we can know humans' risk of extinction from this statement. Comparing to moving to other planet, I think that using sustainability to solve these problems is better. This is because if people do not solve these problems, they will do not have enough time to move to other planet before extinction. So, I agree with Sterman's opinion.

  9. No matter how outlandish this article may seem it does touch on real issues. Although climate change might not actually kill off the human species it will be a point where it becomes life threatening. Many people most probably the impoverished will die and entire nations may be displaced. Displacing nations in itself would cause so much chaos and create so much tension between nations. Immigration is already such a huge issue here in the US. Can you imagine what would happen if everyone in tropical regions had to move to a new country? If we do not manage our use of natural resources and, consider the repercussion our activities may have on the environment future generations will be faced with many life threatening problems. But is it realistic to consider switching planets as a means of survival? Sustainable living seems like the obvious choice. Although we may have already caused enough environmental damage to cause major issues in the future.

  10. I feel like this is a topic that has such a big dilemma, because it is very hard to predict a thousand years from now into the future. You never know what can happen. But still, it is a pretty concerning topic too. It is true that through the time, there are always new innovations and that maybe one day far in the future, we will maybe find a way to survive in another planet, but still, we should start caring more about the planet Earth since it's our planet and I feel that if we really decided to try to take care of it instead of just damaging it, we could live in a sustainable world.
    The problems are always the same ones, there are the ones that want to make the change and there are others, in the other hand, that do not want to make the change because they only care about the possible profit they can make. Actions need to start being taken as we are still on time to heal the Earth, who knows if one day it will be late for it. I don't think that humans are going to be extinct if global warming keep happening, but serious problems could happen and a lot of disasters would take place. Another thing we should take care of talking about human extinction is about possible global wars as nowadays with the new technologies, a nuclear war could have a lot of damages overall. Plus those nuclear wars could help or event develop sicknesses that could spread fast and globally.
    The only think that we need to do is just starting taking more actions against climate change and little by little going sustainable to have a better life with the Earth.

  11. Though many people may not care about climate change or creating a sustainable planet because they won't be alive anyway, 1,000 years is not so far off and we must enact changes now to lengthen our timeline. Estimating the time we have left on Earth does not seem reasonable, because a number of factors or events could take place that would extinct the human race sooner or later. It is so important to move toward a green, sustainable Earth now, before we sit here and realize it is too late and our efforts will have a fraction of the impact they could have had years earlier. I see it somewhat as baking a loaf of bread- you can smell it starting to burn up, see the edges crisping, do you lower the temperature, keep it constant, or raise the temperature? Right now we are raising the temperature, or ignoring it at best, only to find that the loaf of bread is going to be beyond repair, burnt to a crisp. It is so, so critical now more than ever to implement green technologies, or plan to inhabit other planets when ours is no longer fit for life.

  12. Predicting what will happen in 1000 years is a bit outlandish and very far fetched. If you look at just the past 100 years and all the developments that came with it, it is hard to fathom foreseeing the next 1000 years. That being said I do see where Hawking is coming from. If we were to hold all variables constant(which is nearly impossible) we are on a fast track to ruining the globe. Something clearly needs to change.
    What I agree with most is that we aren't going to heat the planet to extinction but we be doomed by society. Humans are innovative and their main attribute is being able to adapt. If we run out of fossil fuels we will or hopefully will be able to be resourceful with our solutions. This will increase competitiveness around the globe between the developed and emerging countries. With such uncertainty it is unlikely nuclear war will be our end. With that said, the solution is not leaving earth to rot and finding new planets to wit we will repeat this same cylce. We need to start rebuilding the globe from both the top down and bottom up.