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Space travel is crucial in driving people to protect planet Earth, according to Jane Poynter.
Poynter is the founder of a space tourism company aiming to send people to 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 governmental organizations is growing.
In recent years, business tycoons like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson have not only opened the skies to professional astronauts but to ordinary citizens too. This has helped make space tourism a new reality for the world.
Space travel may have its downsides, such as the harmful effects it has on the atmosphere. But it also has long-term environmental benefits, says Jane Poynter, the founder of a space tourism company, Space Perspective, and a former technical advisor to Elon Musk.
Poynter told Insider that what seems to get lost in the discussion is "the incredible secondary effect of having so many people go to space."
After speaking with astronauts who have traveled to space, Poynter said: "They will all tell you that seeing Earth in space is a truly profound experience."
She added: "They go to space thinking they're going to discover the unknown and what they really discover is the Earth. These astronauts subsequently get more involved in social-environmental causes."
Poynter's remarks precisely align with Bezos' sentiments during his roughly 10-minute spaceflight last year.
"Every astronaut, everybody who's been up into space, they say that it changes them," Bezos said during a press conference after the launch. "And they're kind of amazed and awestruck by the Earth and its beauty, but also by its fragility. And I can vouch for that."
This, according to David Yaden, a psychiatry and behavioral sciences research fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is called "the overview effect."
For Bezos, flying to space ignited a drive to protect Earth. Particularly, he said, it reinforced his commitment to climate change and the environment.
It was a similar experience for Poynter, after she spent two years in Biosphere 2, an artificial, airtight ecosystem designed to test the viability of maintaining human life in outer space.
The experiment took place in 1991 in which eight people shut themselves inside a 3.14-acre bubble-like facility until 1993. "My experience in Biosphere 2 changed my perception of the world forever and it actually changed my behavior," Poynter said.
"Before I went into the Biosphere, I wasn't terribly interested in environmental and social causes. Afterwards? Completely," she added.
According to Poynter, if you think about hundreds, thousands, and eventually millions of people going to space and having that experience of seeing Earth in this context, it's going to have a "ripple effect through our society."
Since her time in Bisophere 2, Poynter said she's been on a journey to find a way to take all civilians on planet Earth to space to have that "quintessential astronaut experience."
On this journey, Poynter said she was focused on ways to keep life thriving in what is otherwise a very hostile environment of outer space. It was at that point in time when she was approached by Musk who had similar visions alongside sending people to Mars.
Poynter believes it is extremely important to take people to space, "especially now." This is because we, as species, are not motivated enough to protect Earth armed with facts alone, when it comes to the environmental problems we face today.
"We know we are living unsustainably on this planet, we know we have issues with our climate, but it's not driving behavior change on the scale that it needs to happen," she said.
She added: "I don't expect every single human that we take to space to be completely transformed, but there are going to be a fairly large percentage of people that we take that will be moved to action."
Read the original article on Business Insider