We Must Expand Life Beyond Our Little Blue Mud Ball—or Go Extinct

Elon Musk? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote investigator: Controversial and path-breaking entrepreneur Elon Musk started the rocket company SpaceX because he is passionate about traveling to Mars. He said something like: If mankind does not get off of this mud ball then it will go extinct. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote investigator: In 2008 Elon Musk wrote a piece for “Esquire” that discussed the dangers facing humanity. Emphasis added to excerpt: 1

The next big moment will be life becoming multiplanetary, an unprecedented adventure that would dramatically enhance the richness and diversity of our collective consciousness. It would also serve as a hedge against the myriad–and growing–threats to our survival. An asteroid or a supervolcano could certainly destroy us, but we also face risks the dinosaurs never saw: An engineered virus, nuclear war, inadvertent creation of a micro black hole, or some as-yet-unknown technology could spell the end of us. Sooner or later, we must expand life beyond our little blue mud ball–or go extinct.

Image Notes: Portrait of Elon Musk licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license; author: Steve Jurvetson. Photograph of the Earth taken on December 7, 1972 by the crew of the Apollo 17. Image of Mars taken by the OSIRIS instrument on the ESA Rosetta spacecraft during February 2007. All three images accessed via Wikimedia Commons. Images have been cropped, retouched, and resized.

(Great thanks to K whose inquiry led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration.)


  1. Website: Esquire, Article title: Elon Musk: Entrepreneur on the grandest scale (cars, alternative energy, space), Article author: Elon Musk, Date on website: October 1, 2008, Website description: Men’s Style website from Hearst Communications, Inc. (Accessed therestisnoise.com on February 4, 2014) link