Some of what I'm going to say here is speculative, but I want to talk about a pattern I've noticed recently. Let's start with Human trials on Earth are the key to how we will survive on Mars (The Conversation, September 1, 2016). Here's the part I'm interested in.
Still, critics complain and ask, what’s the point of exploring Mars, anyway? We have pretty good pictures and science data already. Why spend huge amounts of money on such a venture?
Shouldn’t we wait until we’ve solved some of the really pressing problems that face us on Earth, the old argument goes, before sending astronauts galloping off to another planet?
Considering the endless capacity of humans to create problems for themselves, what this argument really amounts to is this: we should never go.
But there are very good reasons for learning how people can travel, live, work and play beyond the Earth. This is not a pipe dream, it’s a socioeconomic necessity. History shows the continuous and ongoing expansion of healthy human societies into new environments.
Staying put is not what humans tend to do, especially when resources and opportunities are limited. Increasingly, as the population (and our appetite for material things) grows, this puts us into conflict with others.
It’s already a limiting factor on much of what happens in human development, and is likely to be even more so in future. If we take a long view, the importance of being able to move out into the solar system in search of food, water, energy and mineral resources becomes clear.
To suppress an expansion away from our point of origin, or unduly delay it, is to put unbearable constraints on human life in the future, and increase the risk of ever escalating territorial disputes, closed boarders, hoarding and warfare.
This is as close as we're going to get to a Flatlander admitting that human beings are fuck-ups, and if Homo sapiens is going to survive over the long haul, we need to expand into outer space. Basically, this is the expand or die argument—staying on Earth will place "unbearable constraints on human life in the future." I can only agree.