We have forgotten some of our greatest achievements as a species.
No, not the invention of the piano necktie - rather the landing of humans on the nearest planet to our own, the moon.
NASA, which actually stands for Not Another Shuttle Accident, has declared they intend to return to the moon by 2020 and set up permanent residence by 2024. This is in keeping with a pledge made by President G W Bush to get back to space. Stephen Hawking has stated that our only hope for survival relies on our ability to leave our earthly bounds and colonize the planets.
Let us set aside the erroneous predictions of the Malthusian followers. Rampant overpopulation and shortages have not consumed the earth. We have made great strides in understanding our impact on the planet. Nations, like India, have worked miracles in providing for their peoples (try googling the "green revolution"). Although the threat of worldwide warfare or plague still looms, that threat is receding.
So what do we do for an encore? The last vestiges of dark age mentality (and by this I mean radical Islam) will eventually pass away. Education and a desire for a better life from the underclass will triumph where US military might has stalled.
Ad astra per aspera.
To the stars from the mud.
NASA has uncovered strong evidence of liquid water on Mars. The uniqueness of planets is no longer restricted to our solar system and now the likelihood for life on other worlds has risen dramatically. The amount of energy and technology required to economically colonize beyond our earth will require a global effort. This effort will naturally result in the furtherance of complementary technologies, alternative energy, better food production, medicine and other spin-offs much as the moon effort yielded.
Private enterprise must be engaged as well. The market is always the best force for change, remember Columbus' voyages were essentially entrepreneurial ventures.
Besides, I always wanted to wear one of those cool silver jumpsuits.