I do not belittle or ridicule Stephen Hawking's suffering for the past five decades that he has struggled with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. This takes courage and inner strength.
But his success in surviving to age 74 despite ALS has another component: Science.
Science allows him communicate and move. He has fathered three children and has had two wives (not simultaneously). He has championed the construction of ramps to allow those who live in wheelchairs to have a better life. He pioneered using a computer to speak.
Therefore , this account in the New York Post saddened me:
Scientific progress is almost certain to bring disaster to planet Earth within the next few thousand years, according to top cosmologist Professor Stephen Hawking.
He predicts that as new technologies are developed, the number of threats to the human race will increase until some kind of global cataclysm is virtually inevitable.
In the time period before humans manage to escape to the stars, they will have to be “very careful”, he says.
Hawking’s warning came during a question-and-answer session at the BBC Reith Lectures at London’s Royal Institution on Jan. 7.
His prophesy of doom came when a member of the audience asked him: “Do you think the world will end naturally or will man destroy it first?”
“We face a number of threats to our survival from nuclear war, catastrophic global warming, and genetically engineered viruses,” the research director at Cambridge University’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics replied.
“The number is likely to increase in the future, with the development of new technologies, and new ways things can go wrong. Although the chance of a 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 thousand or 10,000 years.I have heard this gloom-and-doom nonsense all my life.
Nuclear arms didn't kill us; they helped prevent World War III.
The world didn't collapse when its population reached 3 billion. We now have 8 billion people who are healthier and enjoying material wealth better than ever before. Not all, of course, but the percentage of people in poverty is at an all-time low, nearly zero in the United States (food stamp programs and the like give those in "poverty" what is a middle class life elsewhere).
Global cooling? Ha!
Global warming? Ha ha ha.
Science -- real science, not this politicized climate change bunk -- saves lives. In fact, what is pushing the population rise is not the birth rate -- it has been dropping as the middle class expands -- but the drop in the death rate. We keep living.
For example, men who contract ALS in their 20s are living another 50 years or more.
Just as Stephen Hawking.