Q&A Friday #54: Do We Need To Colonize Other Planets To Survive Extinction?

Question: “Do we have to colonize other planets in order to survive extinction, as Stephen Hawkings has said?” — D-Vega

Answer: Most species that have existed on earth at one point or another have gone extinct, sometimes even after thriving for millions of years. Chances are that eventually, at some point in the future, the same thing will happen to mankind. Maybe it’ll be caused by an asteroid, nuclear war, global climate change (Did you know the earth used to be a solid ball of ice at one point with even the oceans frozen over?) — who knows? Also, who knows when it’ll happen? It could be next week, it could be 10,000 years from now. But, at some point, some horrible event will probably threaten the survival of mankind and by the time we’re in the middle of the crisis, it may be too late to do anything to assure the perpetuation of the species.

So, yes, if we do want to guarantee that our species will continue to exist, we will, at some point, want to spread out to other worlds — although, given our present level of wealth and technology — I’m not sure that finding inhabitable planets and moving significant numbers of humans to them will be a realistic option at any point within our lifetimes.

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