Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. From Jessica Ennis to Joey Barton. Could a contrast be more ghastly?, Guardian

The Olympic spirit we've just rejoiced in makes the return of football's greed, cheating and racism all the more depressing, writes Geoffrey Wheatcroft.

2. A-level students must be told the whole truth about the value of a degree, Telegraph

Mis-selling of higher education is one of the least remarked upon scandals of our time, argues Fraser Nelson.

3. There should be no immunity for Assange from these allegations, Independent

Owen Jones writes that Ecuador is wrong to describe the charges against the WikiLeaks founder as 'laughable'.

4. Corporate cash power is holding the state hostage Financial Times (£)

John Plender exposes the shift in relations between the public and private sectors, and asks how to combat capture.

5. Cameron must cultivate his little acorns, Times (£)

Bring back the Pre-Coalition Dave of optimism and wonder to inspire us with graphene and Raspberry Pi, begs Peter Hoskin.

6. Girls deserve top marks for catching up so quickly, Telegraph

Three cheers – girls will be more successful than boys in the latest A-level results, writes Rachel Johnson.

7. There's still (a slim) hope for the eurozone yet, Independent

You wouldn't know it from the coverage over here, but the Eurozone crisis has actually eased quite a lot of late, Adrian Hamilton explains.

8. We must clean up our act on money laundering, Financial Times (£)

Following a spate of high-profile money laundering scandals, John Cassara asks what more we can do?

9. This is not some celeb balaclava bandwagon, Times (£)

Pussy Riot are bravely risking their freedom to take on a gangster state. We can’t stay silent, says Peter Gabriel.

10. Would you be happy to live like Tony Nicklinson?

The court had no choice but to rule against Nicklinson's right to die. The law must be changed to end such brutal suffering, argues Polly Toynbee.

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Stephen Hawking's enthusiasm for colonising space makes him almost as bad as Trump

The physicist's inistence on mankind's expansion risks making him a handmaiden of inequality.

“Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves,” Stephen Hawking has warned. And he’s not just talking about surviving the UK's recent run of record breaking heat. If humanity doesn’t start sending people to Mars soon, then in a few hundred years he says we can all expect to be kaput; there just isn’t enough space for us all.

The theoretical physicist gave his address to the glittering Starmus Festival of science and arts in Norway. According to the BBC, he argued that climate change and the depletion of natural resources help make space travel essential. With this in mind, he would like to see a mission to Mars by 2025 and a new lunar base within 30 years.

He even took a swipe at Donald Trump: “I am not denying the importance of fighting climate change and global warming, unlike Donald Trump, who may just have taken the most serious, and wrong, decision on climate change this world has seen.”

Yet there are striking similarities between Hawking's statement and the President's bombast. For one thing there was the context in which it was made - an address to a festival dripping with conspicuous consumption, where 18 carat gold OMEGA watches were dished out as prizes.

More importantly there's the inescapable reality that space colonisation is an inherently elitist affair: under Trump you may be able to pay your way out of earthly catastrophe, while for Elon Musk, brawn could be a deciding advantage, given he wants his early settlers on Mars to be able to dredge up buried ice.

Whichever way you divide it up, it is unlikely that everyone will be able to RightMove their way to a less crowded galaxy. Hell, most people can’t even make it to Starmus itself (€800  for a full price ticket), where the line-up of speakers is overwhelmingly white and male.

So while this obsession with space travel has a certain nobility, it also risks elevating earthly inequalities to an interplanetary scale.

And although Hawking is right to call out Trump on climate change, the concern that space travel diverts money from saving earth's ecosystems still stands. 

In a context where the American government is upping NASA’s budget for manned space flights at the same time as it cuts funds for critical work observing the changes on earth, it is imperative that the wider science community stands up against this worrying trend.

Hawking's enthusiasm for colonising the solar system risks playing into the hands of the those who share the President destructive views on the climate, at the expense of the planet underneath us.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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