Humanity has always been prideful, but over time, new generations are becoming more and more self-centered. While I believe our tendency to be selfish is inborn, if not controlled, it is a powerful destructive force that might become our major enemy.
To spur leaders to take action and alleviate the threat of climate change while we still have time, numerous scientists are alerting that we may be nearing a defining moment.
Stephen Hawking, (1942-2018), was among the loudest of them all.
The Cambridge and Oxford-trained scientist was one of the greatest minds of our time, who has revolutionized the concepts of physics and science. His theories on the origin of the Universe and the black holes have transformed the modern-day concept of the cosmos.
Yet, he often stepped outside his field of research, to point out the challenges and hardships that await humanity in the coming decades.
During his life, the famous physicist and cosmologist left plenty of quotes and inspirational sayings. He spent much of his life paralyzed after he was diagnosed with a slow-progressing form of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a motorneurone disease.
The contribution of this scientist, (estimated IQ – 162) to the fields of cosmology, general relativity, and quantum gravity is ineffable.
During the last years of his life, he grew increasingly concerned about the future of humanity.
Before his death, he kept warning the world that we are heading towards a point of no return, as our destroying activities would soon become irreversible.
He repeatedly stated that the humankind is selfish and inherently destructive, and due to this, he suspected that any human efforts could adequately address the issue of climate change.
In 2016, during an interview with Larry King of the Larry King Now talk show, he said:
“We certainly have not become less greedy or less stupid. Six years ago I was worrying about pollution and overcrowding. They have gotten worse since then. The population has grown by half a billion since our last meeting [six years prior], with no end in sight. At this rate, it will be eleven billion by 2100. “
In a BBC interview, Hawking said:
“We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible. Trump’s action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of two hundred and fifty degrees, and raining sulphuric acid.…
Climate change is one of the great dangers we face, and it’s one we can prevent if we act now.”
He believed that humankind is far from taking the much-needed, united and well-targeted actions:
“[…]Evolution has inbuilt greed and aggression to the human genome. There is no sign of conflict lessening, and the development of militarized technology and weapons of mass destruction could make that disastrous.”
He maintained that some kind of a backup planet is the only way we can preserve our species when the earth would become entirely inhabitable.
“The best hope for the survival of the human race might be independent colonies in space.”
Arguably the world’s most famous scientist also spoke about the dangers of the rapidly worsening air pollution, the largest contributor to climate change, caused by fossil fuel combustion. It has increased over the last years, leaving over 80% of inhabitants of urban areas “ exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution.”
When it comes to artificial intelligence, which is highly beneficial on its own, Hawking warned that it is now used for the wrong purpose, as world governments are dangerously engaging in “an AI arms race”:
“A rogue AI could be difficult to stop. We need to ensure that AI is designed ethically with safeguards in place.”
He believed that if we are not careful, the rise of artificial intelligence will be the worst thing that has ever happened to us:
“Unless we learn how to prepare for, and avoid, the potential risks, AI could be the worst event in the history of our civilization. It brings dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many. It could bring great disruption to our economy.”
Yet, in his posthumously published book called Brief Answers To The Big Questions, even though it might look that he claims we are doomed, he still preserves the hope that human wisdom and innovation will prevent the destruction of our species.
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