Stephen Hawking: Humanity Only Has 1,000 Years Left on Earth

Stephen Hawking climate change threat
Physicist Stephen Hawking at the Breakthrough Starshot initiative, New York, April 12. Hawking has predicted our species may need to find a new planet within 1,000 years. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Humanity will not survive another 1,000 years on Earth, according to renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.

Hawking told the Oxford University Union this week that climate change, artificial intelligence and other existential threats mean we need to find a new planet to live on.

"Although the chance of disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next 1,000 or 10,000 years," Hawking said. "By that time, we should have spread out into space and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the human race."

Hawking is one of many figures in the tech and science communities calling for humanity to become a multi-planetary species.

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk hopes to establish a human colony on Mars within the next few decades through his aerospace firm SpaceX. "I don't have a doomsday prophecy," Musk said earlier this year, "but history suggests some doomsday event will happen."

On a more positive note, Hawking also stated it is a "glorious time to be alive and doing research into theoretical physics," pointing to how our fundamental understanding of the universe has advanced in his lifetime.

"Our picture of the universe has changed a great deal in the last 50 years and I am happy if I have made a small contribution," Hawking said.

"The fact that we humans, who are ourselves mere fundamental particles of nature, have been able to come this close to understanding the laws that govern us and the universe is certainly a triumph."