I recently had the pleasure of speaking with the co-founder of the Tetris Company, Henk Rogers. After he made a fortune in the video game industry, he dedicated his life to saving the environment by ending the use of carbon-based fuels and trying to make Elon Musk’s vision of a human colony on Mars possible.
Henk was born in the Netherlands. His mother married an American when he was a kid and he moved to New York when he was 11 years-old.
Henk didn’t know any English until he arrived in New York.
After he graduated from high school, he studied computers at the University of Hawaii. Henk Rogers created a game called "The Black Onyx."
This was the first role-playing game in Japan.
It became No. 1 in 1984.
Rogers revolutionized the game industry.
Fast forward to 1988, he discovered a game called "Tetris." In 1989, he went to the Soviet Union to buy the Gameboy rights. In 1996, he partnered with Alexey Pajitnov, the creator of Tetris and started the Tetris Company. "Tetris" has sold 80 million copies as box product and generated over 500 million paid downloads on mobile phones.
Henk Rogers life changed in 2005 when he had a heart attack. His widow-maker, which is the largest artery in the heart, was 100% blocked. As Rogers was in the back of the ambulance heading to the hospital, he said to himself, "You gotta be kidding me, I haven’t spent any of the money yet."
His second thought was, "No, I’m not going, I still have stuff to do."
The American tradition of succeeding in business and then giving your life to public service began with Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). Franklin retired at 42-years-old and then dedicated the next 42 years to public service.
Franklin wrote a letter to his mother that he wanted to be remembered as someone who made a difference rather than someone who happened to be rich.
After he left the hospital, Henk dedicated his life to fighting climate. He founded the Blue Planet Foundation. In 2015, Henk political efforts paid off. Hawaii’s Governor David Ige signed a bill that Henk pushed for, which directed state utilities to generate electricity from 100% renewable sources by 2045.
Henk’s other goal of making a back-up of life on other planets by human colonization of the Moon and Mars is actually tied to the environment. If we could create a colony on the Moon, it would force people to learn how to live with limited resources. Henk said, "Everything will have to be re-used or reprinted or recycled or something else. So by learning to live on the Moon and Mars and other planets, we’ll learn how to live sustainably here on Earth."
The other reason to develop human colonies is to have a backup because there are a number of astronomical events that could destroy life on Earth. Making a backup basically reduces the chances of that happening to zero.
Henk owns a 1,200 square-foot habitat, HI-SEAS, where six people live under similar conditions as they would if they lived on Mars. The conditions in Hawaii are the closest thing to a facsimile to the Moon, or Mars, terrain that we will find on Earth.
Along with Rogers, NASA itself has conducted experiments on the lava fields of Hawaii’s Big Island for years. In fact, the Apollo 11 crew actually spent some of their training in Hawaii to prepare for their mission to the moon.
In many ways, the benefits of this idea are similar to the early colonization of the first New England colonies. In 1630, John Winthrop and the passengers of the Arbella sailed to the new world. Winthrop’s goal was clear, "We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us."
The Arbella was one of eleven ships that brought a thousand passengers in 1630 from England to Massachusetts. These settlers built a community out of the wilderness to create a safe haven for other Puritans. By the end of the 1630s, 14,000 people had arrived.
While the Massachusetts Bay Colony was an experiment in self-government that expanded throughout the world, Henk Rogers’ moon colony is an experiment in sustainable economic development.
Recent breakthroughs in the artificial intelligence, 3D printing and robotics make the idea of a moon base more cost effective than sending humans to build a base on the moon like a typical construction site.
Much the way Benjamin Franklin invented the lightening rod, Henk Rogers company Blue Planet Energy has tried to understand energy storage from solar panels into batteries and into hydrogen.
As these future pioneers on the moon and Mars learn the importance of conservation, it will hopefully provide the rest of humanity with a new mentality of how we can sustain life on our planet.
On their journey to the Moon and Mars, it wouldn’t hurt these future Martians to follow Benjamin Franklin’s "13 Virtues," which included temperance, frugality, industry, and humility as a way of thriving.
Robert Zapesochny is a researcher and writer whose work focuses on foreign affairs, national security and presidential history. His work has appeared in a range of publications, including The American Spectator, the Washington Times, and The American Conservative. For several years Robert worked closely with Peter Hannaford, a senior aide to Ronald Reagan, as the primary researcher on four books and numerous columns. Robert has also worked on multiple presidential, national and statewide campaigns, including as a field office staffer for the Bush-Cheney campaign. Due to his own Russian-Jewish heritage, Robert has a keen interest in the history of U.S.-Soviet relations. In 2017 he was the co-organizer of an effort that erected commemorative statue of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow. Robert graduated with a major in Political Science from the University at Buffalo, and received his Master's in Public Administration, with a focus in healthcare, from the State University of New York College at Brockport. When he's not writing, Robert works for a medical research company in Rochester, New York. Read Robert Zapeochny's Reports — More Here.
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