Settlement the new strategy?

Jeff Greason from XCOR talks at the International Space Development Conference 2011 of the National Space Society (NSS) on his view on the strategy for NASA. Listen to his visionairy talk on Youtube!

He takes some bald steps forward, for example by making very clear that a strategy is not about which rocket which subcontractor should be building but about the big picture. According to Jeff, the big picture is settlement of the solar system by the human species. I agree with this view on the very long term. One day, the Earth will be hit again by an asteroid potentially whiping out the human species (again?) from the face of the Earth. Multi-planet character should be the next thing for humans. Also, Mars is there and a human visit will one day be history in the making.
But an itching question remains in my head. Is settlement of the solar system the solution for the problems on Earth this upcoming century? Why would governments spend billions to enable a few humans to set foot on distant worlds like the Moon, asteroids and eventually Mars? If the Earth is overcrowded, the first thing the human species should do is birth-control. Instead of setting the space sector minds to settlement, shouldn't we focus on problems we have on Earth now and in the coming decades?
One of those topics is energy. Limitless energy is available in space. Our nearest star the sun can illuminate large orbital solar panels. The energy from these panels can be transformed and beamed 24/7/365 with electromagnetic waves to receivers on Earth. Enabling Space Based Solar Power (SBSP) to a scale that it brings a real solution to the society on Earth requires a number of technologies, such as in-orbit refuelling, Lunar and Asteroidal resource utilisation and in orbit and/or lunar factories.
Coincidentally, this will require missions to the Moon, near-earth asteroids and to lagrange points and will create an infrastructure which can then easily be extended to the moons of Mars and eventually the surface of Mars. And then, some wealthy individuals will pay the commercial operators of the SBSP infrastructure to send them to the surface of Mars, possibly with a one-way ticket, and they will start a new civilization on the surface of a new planet.

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