Martin Rees: ‘Climate change is a doddle compared with terraforming Mars’

The astronomer royal and risk specialist on cyber-attacks, pandemics, Brexit and life on Mars

Martin Rees is a cosmologist and astrophysicist who has been the astronomer royal since 1995. He is also a co-founder of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, Cambridge. His most recent book, On the Future: Prospects for Humanity, is published by Princeton.

After Boris Johnson’s recent announcement of an increase in the number of special visas for scientists, Sir Andre Geim accused him of taking scientists “for fools”. Did you feel patronised by the announcement?
I wouldn’t put it that way. Anything that makes it easier to get visas is welcome but won’t remove the serious downsides of Brexit.

I hope manned space flight will continue, but as a high-risk adventure bankrolled by private companies

Related: Martin Rees: I’ve got no religious beliefs at all – interview

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