“The future survival of humanity depends on the exploration and settlement of increasingly hostile environments on land, sea, and space.”

In 2009 ... 

Simon Sinek presented a TED Talk entitled "Start With Why". It was so popular that he turned it into a best-selling book, "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action". 

 

According to Sinek, most people communicate by starting with the “what” they do and eventually work their way back to talk about “how” and “why” they do what they do. However, he encouraged people to reverse that thinking and instead start with the "why"--or, more simply, your purpose.

 

To illustrate this concept, he created a "Golden Circle", with "Why" in the center bulls-eye.

I took this approach to heart and traced my personal "why" back to my childhood.

In 1977 ...

At the age of 11, I distinctly remember having a vivid recurring dream about my being the commander of the first human colony on Mars. Years later, as an adult looking back on my entire life, I realized that that early dream actually instilled in me my personal "Why". My life's purpose.

Virtually everything I have done in my life--academic, professional, personal, charitable--has been in pursuit of one objective: helping humanity survive and thrive through the exploration and sustainable settlement of extreme environments ... on Earth, in the oceans, and in space.

The numbers:

  • The global human population has grown to over 7 billion people

  • 95% of humanity lives on only 10% of the planet’s land mass

  • Land accounts for only 30% of the planet’s surface area

  • Therefore, 95% of humanity lives on only 3% of the planet’s surface area

 

By the year 2050, humanity's projected population of over 9 billion will survive only if it expands beyond the relative comfort of its current footprint on Earth. There are only three places to expand, and each represents increasingly hostile environments:

  1. Land - high latitudes and altitudes, deserts, forests

  2. Sea - surface, ocean floor, water column

  3. Space - orbit, Luna, Mars, Venus, other moons, asteroids, outposts

 

As different as these three environments can be, they share many common challenges to human settlement, including:

  • Survival (basic) - air, pressure, food, water, temperature

  • Survival (long term) - gravity, radiation, energy, medical, communication, transportation

  • Obstacles - financial, political, legal, social

  • Thriving (long term) - education, governance, economy, religion, security

 

When considering humanity’s settlement of these “extreme environments”, the single tenet that becomes abundantly clear is that we can survive only if these settlements are completely self-sustaining. Humanity must expand its overall footprint in the universe but only while maintaining a relatively modest local footprint at each point of settlement.

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