James Fallows at The Atlantic interviewed Eric C. Anderson, a co-founder and chairman of Space Adventures, a company focused on sending people to space. Mining asteroids is seen as a key component to making such travel possible, says Anderson:
The interview and subject matter is fascinating, so go read it all.
There's a huge environmental cost to mining on Earth. But there are lots of strategic materials and metals that we can get in space and that will be necessary for us if we want to create abundance and prosperity generations from now on Earth. We sort of had a freebie over the past couple hundred years—we figured out that you can burn coal and fossil fuels and give all the economies of the world a big boost. But that's about to end. Not only do we have to transition to a new form of energy, we also have to transition to a new form of resources. And the resources of the nearest asteroids make the resources on Earth pale by comparison. There are enough resources in the nearest asteroids to support human society and civilization for thousands of years.
IMAGE: Space colony art from the 1970s via Space stations were always so green