NEW MEXICO (AP)--Renowned scientist James Lovelock and a small group of adventurers have left the planet Earth after Lovelock warned that the world has passed the point of no return for climate change and civilization is unlikely to survive.
Lovelock led a small party aboard one of the first new faster-than-light starships created by billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson and designed by Burt Rutan.
Thirty years ago Lovelock conceived the idea of Gaia, a planetary-scale control system that Earth uses to keep the climate in balance and fit for life.
"But now Gaia is dead," he sobbed as he ascended the steps of the spaceship carrying a large suitcase, just before blasting off on the lonely voyage across the stars to an Earth-like planet about twenty light-years away.
Lovelock said that he believes mankind's abuse of the environment has made climate change insoluble and life on Earth will never be the same again.
"Efforts to counter global warming cannot succeed, and it is already too late," he said pessimistically.
Lovelock now believes Earth and human society face nearly complete disaster, and sooner than nearly anybody realizes.
"Before this century is over, billions of you will die, and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic, where the climate remains tolerable," he predicted. "Meanwhile, my colonists will carve out life on a new world, probably having to eat algae and fight off giant centipedes."
Accompanying Lovelock were such rich celebrities as Richard Branson himself, controversial pop star Michael Jackson, the Morman Tabernacle Choir, Microsoft's Bill Gates, actor Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, actress Pamela Anderson, investors Warren Buffett and George Soros, Pope Benedict XVI, and a number of other hardy pioneers.
The colonists carried an extensive miniaturized Microsoft library of Earth's culture and technology, as well as genetic material from millions of Earth's species which could be reproduced on the new planet in a special genetic lab they are also taking along.
The spacecraft is also equipped with a solar-powered Mcdonald's restaurant compliments of the giant fast-food corporation.
Building the costly starship was bankrolled by the several billionaires on the voyage.
"I'd do anything to get away from Google which is taking away business from Microsoft," said Gates as he left.