Stephen Hawking on Donald Trump and Brexit: 'We are at most dangerous moment in humanity'

Theoretical physicist 74-year-old also says he feels his 'ivory tower is getting taller'

Peter Walker
Friday 02 December 2016 17:48
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Professor Hawking urged humanity to break down barriers
Professor Hawking urged humanity to break down barriers

Stephen Hawking has broken his silence on Donald Trump’s election victory in a rallying cry for the human race to “work together” and “break down barriers”.

The multi-award winning cosmologist, a national treasure in Britain, said it would be a “terrible mistake” to ignore the populism behind the votes fir Brexit and the billionaire tycoon in the US.

The 74-year-old also claimed “we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity” with the “technology to destroy the planet”.

Prof Hawking, who gave name to Hawking radiation, suggested we may colonise 'amid the stars' in a few centuries NASA

Prof Hawking, one of the key advancers of cosmology and of Albert Einsteirn’s general relativity theory, delivered a series of frank assessments in a 1,100-word column for The Guardian.

He writes: “Whatever we might think about the decision by the British electorate to reject membership of the European Union and by the American public to embrace Donald Trump as their next president, there is no doubt in the minds of commentators that this was a cry of anger by people who felt they had been abandoned by their leaders … should we, in turn, reject these votes as outpourings of crude populism … I would argue that this would be a terrible mistake.”

The University of Cambridge director, and author of the ground-breaking A Brief History of Time, has previously passed comment publicly on property magnate Mr Trump.

Prof Hawking said he failed to understand the 70-year-old New Yorker’s popularity when interviewed by ITV’s Good Morning Britain in May.

But this is the first time he has spoken publicly about the former The Apprentice personality since the unlikely 8 November election triumph.

Mr Trump has branded the climate change concept a "hoax" created by the Chinese, while scientists have argued that Brexit damages the sharing of ideas.

“For me, the really concerning aspect of this is that now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together. We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans,” he said.

“Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity.

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“We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it.

“Perhaps in a few hundred years, we will have established human colonies amid the stars, but right now we only have one planet, and we need to work together to protect it.

“To do that, we need to break down, not build up, barriers within and between nations. If we are to stand a chance of doing that, the world’s leaders need to acknowledge that they have failed and are failing the many.”

Prof Hawking began the column on a more personal and self-deprecating note, saying that with the “isolation imposed by my illness, I feel as though my ivory tower is getting taller”.

He has a rare slow-progressing form of motor neurone disease (MND/ALS) and his longevity has defied science.

The father-of-three communicates using a single cheek muscle attached to a speech-generating computer.

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