It's time to move beyond this pale blue dot to begin our multi-planetary colonization. That's one of the reasons Elon Musk started SpaceX. And in an interview with Aeon, he put a really fine point on his plans to explore the known universe.
"Fuck Earth! Who cares about Earth?" is how the piece starts out. Obviously, Elon does, or else he wouldn't have co-founded Tesla and worked so hard on SolarCity. But his point – veiled in laughter – is sound.
I think there is a strong humanitarian argument for making life multi-planetary. In order to safeguard the existence of humanity in the event that something catastrophic were to happen, in which case being poor or having a disease would be irrelevant, because humanity would be extinct. It would be like, 'Good news, the problems of poverty and disease have been solved, but the bad news is there aren't any humans left.'
And as always, it start with Mars:
If we can establish a Mars colony, we can almost certainly colonise the whole Solar System, because we'll have created a strong economic forcing function for the improvement of space travel. We'll go to the moons of Jupiter, at least some of the outer ones for sure, and probably Titan on Saturn, and the asteroids. Once we have that forcing function, and an Earth-to-Mars economy, we'll cover the whole Solar System. But the key is that we have to make the Mars thing work. If we're going to have any chance of sending stuff to other star systems, we need to be laser-focused on becoming a multi-planet civilisation. That's the next step.
The Aeon piece is well worth the read. Check it out by clicking these oddly colored words.