SIR MARTIN REES: LIFE AMONG STARS
Death and destruction are not exactly foreign themes in cosmology. Black holes can rip apart stars; unseen dark energy hurtles galaxies away from one another. So maybe it's not surprising that Sir Martin Rees, Britain's Astronomer Royal, sees mayhem down on Earth. He warns that civilization has only an even chance of making it to the end of this century. The 62-year-old University of Cambridge astrophysicist and cosmologist feels so strongly about his grim prognostication that last year he published a popular book about it called Our Final Hour.
The book (entitled Our Final Century in the U.K.) represents a distillation of his 20 years of thinking about cosmology, humankind and the pressures that have put the future at risk. In addition to considering familiar potential disasters such as an asteroid impact, environmental degradation, global warming, nuclear war and unstoppable pandemics, Rees thinks science and technology are creating not only new opportunities but also new threats. He felt compelled to write Our Final Hour to raise awareness about both the hazards and the special responsibilities of scientists.
This article was originally published with the title Doom and Gloom by 2100.