Stephen Hawking: I'll pay to send climate change deniers to Venus

Commentary: In the second-ever episode of "Favorite Places," the famed physicist says Venus used to be like our Earth. Then it overheated.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

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Stephen Hawking Addresses The Cambridge Union

A generous man.

Chris Williamson / Getty Images

Not everyone believes in climate change.

Some skeptics -- and even deniers -- are in positions of power and influence.

Stephen Hawking, however, has little time for their rhetoric.

In the second-ever episode of "Stephen Hawking's Favorite Places," -- which just started streaming on CuriosityStream.com -- the famed physicist uses Venus as an example how things can go wrong for a planet.

"Venus is like Earth in so many ways," he explained. "A sort of kissing cousin." Ah.

"She's almost the same size as Earth, a touch closer to the sun. She has an atmosphere," he said. 

So he flies down to check Venus out -- thanks to some quite rudimentary CGI. 

He gets through the clouds of sulphuric acid.

Sadly, he finds that the pressure on Venus is around 90 times that of Earth. "Enough to crush a submarine," he said. The temperature? A balmy 200 degrees-ish.

This is what happens, he said, when greenhouse gases are out of control. And this, he fears, is what will happen to our own planet.

A 2002 NASA study suggested that around 4.5 billion years ago, Venus, like Earth, enjoyed water. But, as the planet warmed, there was more water vapor in the atmosphere. More heat was trapped and a feedback loop continued until the oceans evaporated.

Hawking survived the trip to Venus, thanks to his fine spacesuit and spaceship -- the SS Hawking. 

However, he offered a bitter salutation to those who deny the science.

"Next time you meet a climate denier," he said, "tell them to take a trip to Venus. I will pay the fare."

Hawking has long advocated that we're treating our planet so badly that we will have to leave it soon -- in 100 years, perhaps.

Yet America's withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement suggests our nation's leaders don't fear the fires of hell as much as Hawking does.

Perhaps this will be something that Oprah might campaign on, should she decide to enter the boiling atmosphere of a presidential race.

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