Reach for the stars

Greta Markey, Managing Editor

The Red Planet. Most people know Mars as our rust-colored galactic neighbor, but could it also be our only hope? We as humans are consuming natural resources at an increasingly fast rate, the global population continues to grow exponentially and our Earth as a home is quickly becoming a less and less feasible option for the human race. Instead of looking into the night sky and imagining green, bug-eyed Martians, we should be looking into the stars and seeing survival.

Renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking knows a lot more about the universe than the average person. He was the first scientist to unify general relativity and quantum theory into what has been coined “The Theory of Everything.” He revolutionized our idea of black holes and whether or not they emit radiation. He has written at least 12 books which break down his theories regarding the universe we live in, and in his BBC documentary “Expedition New Earth,” he predicted that within 100 years, the human species will need to find a new planet to call home.

I’m not saying I believe that in 100 years, the human race will need to evacuate Earth or go extinct, and I don’t think Hawking believes that either. He is trying to make the point that if humans keep living the way they do, then in 100 years the Earth will no longer be able to sustain its population. We see issues like climate change, resource shortages, pollution and habitat destruction causing major problems for wildlife, with global extinction rates at an alarming high. If we can recognize that the Earth is one big interconnected ecosystem, we would also realize that humans are just another one of these species being threatened by anthropogenic pollution and change.

Another factor that sets the benchmark at 100 years is our planet’s population. Live Science has speculated that the amount of food resources on Earth can support, at the highest, 10 billion people, and the UN estimates that by 2100, the global population will exceed 10 billion (we currently have a population of 7.44 billion). Quantitatively, our planet simply cannot support such rapid population growth. If humans were able to colonize Mars and live autonomously, independent of aid from Earth, populations on both planets would in theory have enough resources to further flourish and develop.

Life saving antibiotics and sanitation standards have added countless years to the average lifespan. But by creating revolutionary ways to preserve our species, we have outgrown our own planet. These life-lengthening measures are not a bad thing; however, remaining on a planet that can no longer support our needs is.

Dinosaurs existed on earth for an estimated 100 million years; they evolved, grew, ate and slept. And then a theorized asteroid collided with earth and wiped out virtually every one of their species. Who’s to say that the same thing won’t happen to us? In spreading to Mars, we are preserving the longevity of the human species. Hawking predicted that in the next 10,000 years, a major asteroid collision with Earth is almost inevitable. If humans are able to successfully spread to other planets, starting with Mars, then we shouldn’t have to worry about such a collision being detrimental to the human existence; however, the longer we continue to exist on only one planet, the more likely an asteroid strike could cause extinction. It’s the same idea as putting all of your eggs in one basket. Potentially disastrous.

Earth was a great place for human life to start, but we as humans have the technology and the need to do better for ourselves. Our neighbor planet is a viable place for us to eventually call home, and for the sake of the human race, we should reach for the stars.