Stephen Hawking's Warning About Climate Change Is Scarier Than You Think

Long regarded as one of the most brilliant scientific minds in the world, Stephen Hawking left a lasting legacy on science and on humanity. Therefore, his thoughts on a wide range of topics hold quite a bit of weight. His first research paper dates all the way back to 1965. The last publication that he worked on was released posthumously in 2018. Over these decades, his research papers covered things like black holes, expanding universes, and gravitational dimensions (via Inverse).

Though Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, he coped with it in true scientist fashion. His website explains why he is known for his robot voice. It was the result of a computerized means of communication that he developed along with computer engineers so that he could still communicate as his health slowly took away his ability to speak and use his hands. Thus, Hawking forged ahead in his research and writing for close to 30 years after losing his speech and mobility.

Stephen Hawking criticized former President Donald Trump

Though Stephen Hawking's most well-known areas of contribution lie in the field of physics, Hawking's interests in how the world works go beyond that. This makes sense given that components of physics make up everything in our atmosphere. In 2017, Futurism reported that Hawking believed that climate change driven by human greed was becoming one of the greatest threats to humanity. "We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible," Hawking said. He criticized then-president Donald Trump for pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement and likened Earth's future conditions to those of the neighboring planet Venus.

One of the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to rising temperatures on Earth. According to the BBC, the global average temperature has already increased and global actions like this must be taken urgently to prevent worsening global warming. This sentiment aligns well with Hawking's warning.

Environmentally-friendly technology already exists

While Stephen Hawking's warning is indeed dire, it's important to note that he also believed "we can prevent [climate change] if we act now." If humankind does not take the steps to prevent irreversible climate change, Hawking believed that we may be forced to relocate to other planets, if this ever becomes possible (via Futurism).

Helen Filby of Carbon Literacy explains that technology that allows for more climate-friendly life exists. We just need to use it. She echoes Hawking's sentiment that greed is a force behind climate change, stating that the world must put "long-term sustainability in front of short-term profits." It would be much easier to employ our existing technology such as renewable energy than to relocate to a different planet, especially given the fact that there are no known planets that can support life in the way Earth can. In the words of researcher and writer Mike Berners-Lee, "There is no Planet B."