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Jeff Bezos on life, liberty and the pursuit of space

Image: Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin's New Shepard craft
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (in hat and sunglasses) pops open a bottle of champagne after Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket landing in November 2015. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ vision for his Blue Origin rocket venture is to have millions of people living and working in space — but why?

During this month’s Summit Series invitation-only event in Los Angeles, Bezos explained that it’s not just because he’s a Star Trek fan — although he is that indeed. He sees going beyond Earth as a critical step toward preserving life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness on our home planet.

That’s not even considering fellow billionaire Elon Musk’s view that Mars and other planets would serve as a Plan B for humanity in the event of an Earth-killing catastrophe.

“I hate the ‘Plan B’ argument,” Bezos said during a fireside chat that featured his brother Mark as emcee.

Instead, Bezos extrapolates from current trends in population growth and energy use, just as British physicist Stephen Hawking did this month. If the lines on the chart creep up by just a few percent per year, eventually “you’d have to cover the entire Earth’s surface in solar cells,” he said.

“That’s not going to happen,” he continued. “So, we have two choices: We either go out into space, or we switch over to a civilization of stasis. Personally, I do not like the idea of stasis.”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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