Travel

Space travel is crucial to protect the Earth

Space travel is crucial to protect the Earth

  • According to Jane Poynter, space travel is key to motivating people to protect planet Earth.
  • Poynter is the founder of a space tourism company aimed at sending people into space via a balloon.
  • She said the “profound experience” of going to space will transform human behavior towards Earth.

The amount of space travel that takes place outside of government organizations is increasing.

In recent years, business moguls like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson have not only opened up the skies to professional astronauts, but also to ordinary citizens. This has helped make space tourism a new reality for the world.

Space travel can have drawbacks, such as the harmful effects it has on the atmosphere. But it also has long-term environmental benefits, says Jane Poynter, founder of a space tourism company, Space Perspective, and a former technical adviser to Elon Musk.

Poynter told Insider what seems to get lost in the discussion is “the incredible side effect of having so many people in space.”

After speaking with astronauts who have traveled in space, Poynter said, “They will all tell you that seeing Earth in space is a really profound experience.”

She added: “They go into space thinking they’re going to discover the unknown and what they’re really discovering is Earth. These astronauts then get more involved in social-environmental causes.”

Poynter’s remarks precisely match Bezos’ feelings during his roughly 10-minute spaceflight last year.

“Every astronaut, everyone who’s been in space, says it changes them,” Bezos said at a post-launch press conference. “And they’re kind of amazed and amazed by the Earth and its beauty, but also its fragility. And I can attest to that.”

This, according to David Yaden, a researcher in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is called the “big picture effect.”

For Bezos, flying through space sparked a desire to protect Earth. In particular, he said, it has strengthened his commitment to climate change and the environment.

It was a similar experience for Poynter, having spent two years in Biosphere 2, an artificial, hermetic ecosystem designed to test the viability of sustaining human life in space.

Biosphere 2 housed a crew of eight people for two years.

Biosphere 2 housed a team of eight people for two years.

Katja Schulz/Flickr


The experiment took place in 1991 during which eight people locked themselves in a 3.14 acre bubble-shaped facility until 1993. “My experience in Biosphere 2 changed my perception of the world forever and that actually changed my behavior,” Poynter said.

“Before entering the Biosphere, I wasn’t terribly interested in environmental and social causes. After? Completely,” she added.

According to Poynter, if you think of hundreds, thousands, and possibly millions of people going into space and having this experience of seeing Earth in that context, it’s going to have a “ripple effect on our society.”

Since her time in Bisophere 2, Poynter said she’s been on a journey to find a way to get all of planet Earth’s civilians into space for this “quintessential astronaut experience.”

During this trip, Poynter said she focused on ways to keep life thriving in what is otherwise a very hostile environment of outer space. That’s when she was approached by Musk who had similar visions besides sending people to Mars.

Poynter thinks it’s extremely important to get people into space, “especially now.” This is because we as a species are not motivated enough to protect the Earth armed only with facts, when it comes to the environmental issues we face today.

“We know we live unsustainably on this planet, we know we have problems with our climate, but that’s not driving behavioral change on the scale needed,” she said.

She added: “I don’t expect every human we take into space to be completely transformed, but there will be quite a large percentage of people we take who will be brought into action.”