The media drops the ball, again.
On Jan 9, 2012, the CH published the AP article "Hawking: Space travel a must" in which Raphael Satter reports upon a birthday message from Stephen Hawking. Satter leaves us hanging as to why Hawking thinks it necessary for humanity to "escape our fragile planet". In a nutshell, Hawking's reason is that "Our population and our use of the finite resources of planet Earth are growing exponentially" and this is dangerous for the future of humanity (as reported in the Winnepeg Free Press).
Hawking has a point but it may be unrealistic --- the required technological developments make space colonization a long-term project whereas population pressure is now. Carl Sagan once hypothesised that to successfully colonize space we must first learn to control our population. The alternative being that uncontrolled population will impoverish us and severely limit our options. This last alternative will be ensured by the tendency for the media to airbush population growth out of the message!