Stephen Hawking says we only have 1,000 years left on earth

Getty Images / Bruno Vincent

I think we're all agreed that 2016 has pushed the limits of our patience. It might, on a dark night, be mistaken for heralding the apocalypse.

But before you go thinking that's just viral social media white noise and nonsensical millennial whinging, think again.

Because Professor Stephen Hawking has spoken - and confirmed that we are all doomed.

The renowned physicist gave a talk at the Oxford Union debating society this week, entitled 'The Origin of the Universe'.

He announced that humanity has about 1,000 years left on Earth, before we go extinct.

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 1,000 or 10,000 years.

I don't think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet.

Hawking explained that our only chance of survival would be outside of the Earth's sphere, on another planet or moon.

Luckily, since 2009 Nasa has been working on an escape plan for humans: by plotting the colonisation of Mars while also searching the galaxy for potentially habitable exoplanets that could sustain human life.

This isn't the first time that the perennial optimist has spoken of humanity's impending doom.

Let's just recap his Apocalypse-now record:

  • January 2007: moves the Doomsday Clock forward to indicate that nuclear war and climate change will kill us all

  • December 2014: Asserts that the development of full artificial intelligence could kill us all

  • January 2016: Warns that technological developments, such as nuclear war and genetically engineered viruses, will kill us all

  • October 2016: Thinks that Artificial Intelligence could either be the best or the worst thing to happen to humanity, possibly killing us all

Responses to this latest doom-mongering have been, shall we say, mixed.

If he was hoping to scare us all into good behaviour, he underestimated the nihilism, apocalyptic anarchy and suicidal ideation of 2016:

He did end his hilariously depressing speech on a somewhat uplifting note:

Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.

However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.

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