Quantcast

Stephen Hawking to Larry King: ‘We Certainly Have Not Become Less Greedy or Less Stupid’

Science

Stephen Hawking made a rare interview appearance on Larry King Now on Saturday to discuss science's greatest discoveries, what still mystifies him about space and the state of the planet.


While the interview was less than 10 minutes long, King and Hawking covered a lot of ground. Hawking, director of research at the department of applied mathematics and theoretical physics at the University of Cambridge, joined King via video stream from the Starmus Festival, which celebrates the intersection of science and art, in the Canary Islands of Spain. This year's festival was titled Tribute to Stephen Hawking.

Below are some highlights of the Q&A:

Q. King: Stephen, when we last spoke six years ago, you said that mankind was in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. Have things gotten better or worse since then?

A. Hawking: We certainly have not become less greedy or less stupid. Six years ago I was warning about pollution and overcrowding, they have gotten worse since then. The population has grown by half a billion since our last meeting with no end in sight. At this rate, it will be 11 billion by 2100. Air pollution has increased by 8 percent over the past five years.

Q. King: What's the biggest problem facing humanity today?

A. Hawking: The increase in air pollution and increasing emissions of carbon dioxide. Will we be too late to avoid dangerous levels of global warming?

Q. King: What scientific discovery have surprised even you over the years?

A. Hawking: The most surprising was the discovery in 1998 that the rate of expansion of the universe is speeding up, rather than slowing down, as had been expected. This is said to be dark energy, but this is just a name given to something we don't understand. In particular, we don't understand why it isn't either exactly zero or very large, or whether it is constant as the universe expands.

The two also discussed artificial intelligence, Ray Kurzweil's singularity theory, what still mystifies Hawking about the universe and some changing scientific theories.

Watch the entire interview here:

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed by the Camp Fire on Nov. 15, 2018 in Paradise, Calif. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Respecting scientists has never been a priority for the Trump Administration. Now, a new investigation from The Guardian revealed that Department of the Interior political appointees sought to play up carbon emissions from California's wildfires while hiding emissions from fossil fuels as a way to encourage more logging in the national forests controlled by the Interior department.

Read More
Slowing deforestation, planting more trees, and cutting emissions of non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases like methane could cut another 0.5 degrees C or more off global warming by 2100. South_agency / E+ / Getty Images

By Dana Nuccitelli

Killer hurricanes, devastating wildfires, melting glaciers, and sunny-day flooding in more and more coastal areas around the world have birthed a fatalistic view cleverly dubbed by Mary Annaïse Heglar of the Natural Resources Defense Council as "de-nihilism." One manifestation: An increasing number of people appear to have grown doubtful about the possibility of staving-off climate disaster. However, a new interactive tool from a climate think tank and MIT Sloan shows that humanity could still meet the goals of the Paris agreement and limit global warming.

Read More
Sponsored
A baby burrowing owl perched outside its burrow on Marco Island, Florida. LagunaticPhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Burrowing owls, which make their homes in small holes in the ground, are having a rough time in Florida. That's why Marco Island on the Gulf Coast passed a resolution to pay residents $250 to start an owl burrow in their front yard, as the Marco Eagle reported.

Read More
Amazon and other tech employees participate in the Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice continue to protest today. Karen Ducey / Getty Images

Hundreds of Amazon workers publicly criticized the company's climate policies Sunday, showing open defiance of the company following its threats earlier this month to fire workers who speak out on climate change.

Read More
Locusts swarm from ground vegetation as people approach at Lerata village, near Archers Post in Samburu county, approximately 186 miles north of Nairobi, Kenya on Jan. 22. "Ravenous swarms" of desert locusts in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia threaten to ravage the entire East Africa subregion, the UN warned on Jan. 20. TONY KARUMBA / AFP / Getty Images

East Africa is facing its worst locust infestation in decades, and the climate crisis is partly to blame.

Read More