In recent years, British physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking has expressed many fears about the world. He’s known to have misgivings about artificial intelligence (AI), saying that it could be the biggest achievement in humanity’s history, but also its last. He’s worried about AI decimating jobs, and he has a plan to counter an AI apocalypse. He’s cautioned against making first contact with extraterrestrial life, and he’s afraid that mankind may go extinct in 1,000 years.
While all of those predictions are for a time in the relatively distant future, Hawking’s latest fear is more grounded in the present. He’s afraid that he may no longer be welcome in the United States. “I would like to visit again and to talk to other scientists, but I fear that I may not be welcome,” Hawking said during an interview today with Piers Morgan for Good Morning Britain.
Hawking isn’t necessarily expressing a fear for his life. His concern is in reference to the current federal administration’s climate policies. In particular, Hawking has taken issue with the appointment of Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as he is possibly the first known anti-EPA and climate change skeptic to head the agency.
The British thinker is known to be critical of President Donald Trump’s administration, previously calling the Trump a “demagogue.” “Trump was elected by people who felt disenfranchised by the governing elite in a revolt against globalization,” he said during his morning TV show appearance today. “His priority will be to satisfy his electorate, who are neither liberal nor that well informed.”
It’s difficult to fault Hawking for his fears and concerns regarding how the new administration has been handling environmental issues. Indeed, it has seemingly placed a low priority on the environment several times already, such as when it removed documents pertaining to climate change from government websites. The administration also seems to favor energy policies that lean toward increased fossil fuel use, despite the growth of the renewable energy sector.
Indeed, the latest administration seems to be at odds with not just the environment, but science in general. President Trump has proposed a budget that would make enormous cuts to various science and health agencies, including the EPA and NASA. In a more literal and equally alarming move, the word “science” has even been deleted from the EPA’s mission statement.
Though Hawking’s fears may be well-founded, that hasn’t stopped him from offering a word of advice to President Trump. “He should replace Scott Pruitt at the [EPA],” Hawking said emphatically, The Guardian reports. “Climate change is one of the great dangers we face, and it’s one we can prevent. It affects America badly, so tackling it should win votes for his second term. God forbid.”