I think some of the people mentioning artificial magnetic fields will find this interesting: http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/moon-mars/a25493/magnetic-shield-mars-atmosphere/
Well Nasa could do a lot of great things with a 5% budget, but a manned mission to Mars just ain't happening before 2020, it would be stunning to see it happen before 2030, even impressive to see it before 2040. FTL travel though, that's firmly science fiction, not even on the horizon.
No. Mars seems interesting, (we've studied the moon countless times) because it could lead way for us to live on another planet when the Earth has an extinction level event. Also, the Moon is pretty boring and it has already been studied multiple times. We need to do something new once in our lives.
The whole Earth apocalypse argument for going to Mars is really not accurate. Any kind of permanent settlement on Mars would be a long-term investment, it likely couldn't be seen as any sort of backup for centuries. Meanwhile if our technology and infrastructure doesn't reach the point where we can stabilize conditions on Earth, we're in trouble, and so are any projects on Mars.