Ian Keldon wrote:
Space has nothing we need if we just get our own house in order. It will still be there when that is accomplished and we have the luxury of wasting money on "we'd like to" stuff instead of "we have to" stuff.
1) We will pretty much never get our "house" in order, so waiting for that day is a waste of time.
2) Throughout history, industrial powers have always -- repeat, ALWAYS -- expanded into new environments as a way to solve their domestic economic troubles. This strategy has the threefold advantage of reliving population pressure (especially the underclass, who can be cheaply exported to the frontier), providing access to new resources, and stimulating growth in new technologies and new industry needed to support the colonization efforts.
The second point bears repeating, because lots of people forget this: colonization is expensive and time consuming, but it pays HUGE dividends economically. Colonization of space is the kind of operation that, once it begins, will invigorate mankind's combined industrial capacity for at least a century.