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#1 2002-09-21 17:36:56

NovaMarsollia
Member
Registered: 2002-09-20
Posts: 52

Re: Terraforming as Environmentalism? - The ecocide of Mars!

Terraforming can be read as a positive environmental programme by Mars freakoes since they believe it opens up new sites for the development of ever-dwindling non-renewable resources as well as allowing for the transplantation of endangered terrestrial ecosystems and species.

However terraforming can also be read as a negative environmental program since it involves the degradation of a pristine natural environment and also gives rise to a disposable planet mentality. Unfortunately, the prospects for the realization of the positive environmental benefits are vague whereas the negative impacts are relatively assured.

The idea that a terraformed planet is likely to become a planetary reservation devoted to the nurturing and conservation of rare and endangered Earth species (an idea which finds expression in some science fiction) is sadly awry. A terraformed planet is likely to reflect the social and political context of the terraforming agents; namely governments, state bodies and private aerospace companies.

These agents are inclined to view terraformation as more of an economic than an ecological affair. Therefore they are more likely to view terraformation as a process that enables resource extraction on a candidate planet to proceed as cheaply and quickly as possible. Only those environmental factors contributing to the economic efficiency of resource extraction operations will be incorporated into planetary engineering plans. Atmospheres may be altered to promote easier working conditions, strategic sites may be carved up to allow the building of exporting infrastructure and whole vast regions may be strewn with genetically-engineered ore-mining bacterial carpets but, alas, a space development program with conservation imperitives denoting the importance of transplanting and conserving uneconomic Earth species is not liable to be considered a top priority if the record of most governments and private companies is anything to go by.

Even if a terrestrial species conservation plan is made part of a terraforming policy on a particular planet there is no guarantee that it will be ecologically successful. A new world means a new way of living. Earth plants and animals may not handle the environmental stresses of another planet, even after terraformation has proceeded through its introductory prebiotic and microbiotic stages associated with the production of an Earth-like atmosphere. Terrestrial bacteria, algae and lichens may be admirably suited to withstanding the ambient conditions of another planet but there is a cavernous ecological gap between a world of microbial colonies and a world of macrobial flora and fauna. It is commonly perceived that the development of life on a candidate planet from microbial to macrobial communities can be achieved by letting the processes of ecology run naturally along.

Such perceptions are derived from the somewhat outdated notion of Succession in which ecological communities are thought to progress through various stages from simple communities to complex ones. Arthur C. Clarke, for instance, adheres to this view in his book on terraforming by imagining the successive colonization of a Martian landscape by lichens, then pines then oak trees. Succession theory suggests that a more or less predictable sequential development of an ecological community proceeds through time and can be characterised by an associated increase in biomass, community stability, physical productivity and ecological complexity. Unfortunately for would-be terraformers, after observing plant and animal communities on the Earth for most of the Twentieth Century most ecologists have come to the conclusion that Succession theory is merely a human abstraction of much more variable and unpredictable ecological change. Most ecological communities do not undergo a sequential development accompanied by increased biomass, stability, productivity and complexity.

Because the Succession theory has been slain, terraforming ecologists may be left with alternate models of community change that suggest that succession from simple pioneering species to complex ecosystems is unlikely. Despite supplying a continuous rain of seeds of the desired species, terraformers could still find themselves unable to develop their chosen ideal ecosystem. Instead of creating planets filled with enchanting forests and lakes reminiscent of the Earth's great terrestrial ecosystems, humans may create nothing but millions of square kilometres of pungent microbial bogs more redolent of Earth's polluted industrial waste-sites.

Even if individual plants and animals can survive to maturity on a terraformed planet they shall be anatomically and behaviorally distorted due to the alien environmental conditions. Similarly, even if a forest of terrestrial species does become established, the resultant community would be the unearthly product of anatomically and behaviourally distorted individuals such that claims that these alien ecosystems somehow represent terrestrial ecosystems is quickly invalidated. Terraforming not only presents an unsure outlook for the survival of transplanted terrestrial ecosystems, it also presents a bleak outlook for any indigenous extraterrestrial species that might exist. The favourite candidate planet for terraformers is Mars. However, Mars is also the favourite candidate planet for extant extraterrestrial life, thus giving rise to a dilemma for many space enthusiasts. If terraforming were to proceed on a Mars with microbial life then the fate of such life may be doomed. It might be supposed that Martian microbes will either be resilient to human activities on their own planets (since they are hardy little bugs capable of survviing an invasion) or will have their chances of survival actually enhanced by human activities (since terraforming involves the moderation of Mars' harsh environment).

While Martian lifeforms might stand to gain from terraforming activities it may be even more likely that they will end up quite extinct. As is the case with many fastidious terrestrial microbes, Martian microbes may only be able to survive under some very precise environmental conditions; those prevailing on Mars now.

Even if terraforming acts to enhance the prospects of a Martian species it can be argued that such an enhancement breaches the integrity of the natural state of the indigenous ecosystem. If there are several species of Martian microbes, then the balance of one to another may be altered by terraforming. One species may be enhanced by terraforming activities and then proceed to conquer previously unsuitable areas to the detriment of others.

Alternatively an indigenous microbial species that has its survivability enhanced may alter its environment so as to make that environment unsuitable for its own existence. Terraformers could then be responsible for native Martians poisoning themselves to death. Although it might be possible for terraforming to go ahead without the death of a Martian species, there is no way that the ecology of the planet would ever be the same again. Where now native Martians proudly sift frozen carbon dioxide from icy rocks in great subterranean herds stretching from the north Martian pole to the Mariner Valley, they may someday be slain mercilessly in their trillions to give rise to sad isolated clumps that hang on to dear life amidst a great mat of advancing atmospheric and bacterial pollution.

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#2 2002-09-21 21:47:54

Josh Cryer
Administrator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,828

Re: Terraforming as Environmentalism? - The ecocide of Mars!

What are you talking about, dude?

You said that terraformation “opens up new sites for the development of ever-dwindling non-renewable resources.” This is just silly. Non-renewable resources are fossil fuels and things of that sort. And even they are renewable over periods of tens of thousands of years. The only true non-renewable resources, are nuclear reactions. It's called the conservation of mass.

Transplantation of endangered species is ridiculous, and I've never heard this seriously considered in a scientific proposal. Mars is hardly going to be nice to anything but the most resilient animals, most likely ones genetically engineered. Transplanting endangered species is only going to increase their risk of going extinct. If an animal is endangered on Earth, it's hardly resilient enough to handle Mars.

The only positive aspect of terraformation is simple: It allows us to have a hospitable ecosystem capable of sustaining itself without intervention from high level technology.

Terraformation needn't be looked at as a ‘degradation’ of a ‘pristine natural environment,’ if the final product reflected a certain period in that planets history. If it did, it would merely be a renewal.

Also, there is no logic to the concept that a terraformed Mars would cause us to have a disposable planet mentality, if anything, it would serve as a example to humanity. If we can terraform Mars, we can terraform Earth. People don't realize that.

There are no resources to be gained by terraforming Mars. The only gain from terraforming Mars, is a more efficient, stronger, ecosystem. If anything resource consumption will be lower.

The inherent cost of getting to Mars requires that technology reach a point where things needed to survive on Mars are marginally inexpensive (be it through collective ownership or inevitable cost reduction that occurs within capitalism). Where one group of people can go and build, taking the necessary tools and so on, with relative independence from other colonists, corporations, and even government.

Terraformation will be an economic affair, but only in that it allows us to use our resources, and live, more efficiently. But given that resources are only valuable locally, one must conclude that any resource extraction after terraformation will be used in the same way that those resources were used before. But this resource use will be at a lower rate, since high level technology will no longer be necessary for survival. Instead of building thick-walled air-tight structures with all sorts of high level redundancy, we could build any form of structure that would keep out unwelcomed weather.

We will, of course, never know if we can successfully terraform without actually trying. But this is hardly an argument against it. The simplest solution would be to have a sort of oceanic -> atmospheric ecosystem. Introduce genetically engineered plants and animals to an ocean created by skimming comets through the atmosphere. Will it work? Maybe, maybe not. But uncertainty isn't anything. We didn't know we could fly until we went out and did it. Sure, we broke a few bones in the process, but we achieved it.

The only solid argument against terraformation, would be if there was a currently thriving ecosystem on Mars.


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#3 2002-09-22 05:28:09

NovaMarsollia
Member
Registered: 2002-09-20
Posts: 52

Re: Terraforming as Environmentalism? - The ecocide of Mars!

a) You said that terraformation “opens up new sites for the development of ever-dwindling non-renewable resources.” This is just silly. Non-renewable resources are fossil fuels and things of that sort.

b) Transplantation of endangered species is ridiculous,


c) The only positive aspect of terraformation is simple: It allows us to have a hospitable ecosystem capable of sustaining itself without intervention from high level technology.

a) Yeah, I guess the distinction between 'non-renewable' and 'renewable' is a little old fashioned nowadays. But I'm refering to minerals on Mars which are in short supply on Earth (yes--hypothetical minerals at present---and may forever be--but it's not me who has said this about Mars, it's you guys who think there's some little golddust like element lying in wait for us under the surface!)

b) I'm glad you agree with me (and it wasn't me who suggested it)--and by the way how many academic science papers have you read about the other 'seriously scientific' things to do with Mars?

c) Alas, it wont do that either...it's just going to create a hell-planet something like the Aral Sea or the towns and villages around Chernobyl.

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#4 2002-09-22 06:31:04

Shaun Barrett
Member
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Terraforming as Environmentalism? - The ecocide of Mars!

Hi Nova!
     Can you just explain what resources these avaricious, capitalistic, slave-driving, private companies are going to extract from the Martian regolith?
     Can you then also explain how these evil creatures, bent on the oppression of the proletariat and the rape of the environment, will launch these megatons of valuable material into space and land them safely on Earth? And then, perhaps you'll explain how they will be able to sell said material ... when the same stuff mined here on Earth, without the massive costs of interplanetary transport factored in, is a small fraction of the price?!!

     Your venomous and politically motivated diatribes first create a patently unrealistic scenario involving Mars and those "enemies of the people", and then you shoot it down.
     But your grasp of the basic physics of space transportation, and the costs involved, lets you down badly.
     It looks like you've derived your politics from the failed and discredited Soviet regime, and your science from comic books.
     The settling and Terraforming of Mars will probably cost trillions over a period of centuries. And it will cost more in the sweat of the pioneers who'll actually do the hard work. There'll be no profits for the imperialist overlords of your fevered imagination for an awfully long time, Nova. .... if ever.
     The people who embark on this incredible adventure will be doing it because something inside them makes them do it. It's an intrinsic part of the human spirit to explore and build new worlds. And that's not an evil thing ... it's a magnificent thing. Arguably it's the only thing that makes the human species worthwhile.
     If you can't feel that inside you, Nova, then I honestly pity you, and others like you. Maybe you would do better to leave the future to those like us at New Mars, while you go back to whatever it is that makes people like you happy.
                                          ???


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#5 2002-09-22 07:17:37

NovaMarsollia
Member
Registered: 2002-09-20
Posts: 52

Re: Terraforming as Environmentalism? - The ecocide of Mars!

Your questions are addressed in other posts. Read them at your liesure

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#6 2002-09-23 12:21:10

Josh Cryer
Administrator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,828

Re: Terraforming as Environmentalism? - The ecocide of Mars!

A) Asteriods are a much cheaper source of minerals than resources in a planetary gravity well. But I hardly think Earth is lacking minerals. And I can't see a Mars -> Earth mineral economy happening, due to the inherent cost of getting mass from there to here. Even with a space elevator, such an industry would not last long, because asteriods will be shown to be exploited cheaper, and there are little politics with regard to exploiting asteriods.

Although, it would not surprise me if some “Space Ecologists” wanted to ban asteriod mining, since mining asteriods ‘hurts Sol,’ and causes ‘great pain’ to the solar system. </sarcasm>

B) Oh, I wasn't agreeing. The thing is, there are no truely scientific papers with regard to terraformation. Sure, there are dozens of speculative papers, full of many many  novel ideas (I like my idea the best, I should write a peper). But since there is no Martian population, and since terraformation can't be understood until there is, it's a little early to be arguing for or against it. Hey, it's totally possible by that time we could have mastered genetics, so that any endangered species could survive on Mars. But by then, “endangered species” would no longer be a term in our vocabulary. So this is not an argument ‘for’ terraformation. Some science fiction authors have veryinteresting ideas, but one has to remember that that is all they are, science fiction authors.

C) There is no basis for your assertion. Too bad you were banned, because we could have had a reasoned discussion about terraformation, and possible negative problems associated with it. Oh well.


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#7 2002-09-26 22:20:43

axis
Member
Registered: 2002-09-26
Posts: 3

Re: Terraforming as Environmentalism? - The ecocide of Mars!

Assuming we were able to create a earth-like environment on Mars today... I'm curious to see if anyone would "press the button" to do it.

Seeing as we do not know if life is on Mars - would you take the risk of possibly destroying it?  Please keep in mind that new life is discovered on Earth all the time - how could you be ever sure that you wouldn't be killing the first alien life mankind has found?

Secondly, there would be an enormous cost to do this.  I'm not sure I would want to visit a planet where someone else owns the "air".  That entire concept scares me.

axis

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#8 2002-09-27 06:49:48

Byron
Member
From: Florida, USA
Registered: 2002-05-16
Posts: 844

Re: Terraforming as Environmentalism? - The ecocide of Mars!

Axis...Glad to see that you joined us...

Assuming we were able to create a earth-like environment on Mars today... I'm curious to see if anyone would "press the button" to do it.

While I'm certain there are people out there that would trip over themselves to press the magic terraforming button, I for one, would be against it.  Since we have yet to visit Mars in person, it would be tragic not to be able to study Mars as it is today, whether life exists, etc.

As for the cost of terraforming, it will be the Martians themselves paying for it.  I'm sure it will be the result of a global, democratic government which will ensure that the air and water are commonly "owned" and that the terraforming process is not carried out in a destructive manner.

B

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#9 2002-09-27 15:46:51

Josh Cryer
Administrator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,828

Re: Terraforming as Environmentalism? - The ecocide of Mars!

I'm totally with you, Byron. I have always said that terraformation is not good without a complete and utter understanding of the planet. Say it's 2030 (optimism), and a very small minorty on Mars wants to begin terraformation experiments. If I were there, I am sure I would be protesting along with the Reds. Assume I live to be 200, and we've completely explored Mars and found no signs of currently thriving life, I would probably be protesting with the Blues.

But anyway, the cost of terraformation should be relatively negliable. And of course, Martians would be using their own technology and resources to do it. This would not be an outside thing (unless the ecosystem got so bad on Mars, they needed outside help from Earth, of course- or we had some really wack Martian Red <-> Terran war).

Since Mars, after terraformation, would have a planetary-wide ecosystem, there would be no central ‘ownership.’ Mars' ecosystem would be owned by all collective life forms on Mars, just like everyone is responsible for Earth's ecosystem.

One could reason that multi-corporations, industralization, globalization, etc are all pushing Earth's ecosystem off button, but we wouldn't have this kind of irresponsablity on Mars. Like I said before, Mars would be a friggin example for Earth.


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#10 2017-09-20 16:39:16

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 10,375

Re: Terraforming as Environmentalism? - The ecocide of Mars!

Very old argument that is thinking that mans survival on earth needs the resource brought back for space mining but for man to get to go farther into space we will need to harness what little we can as we capture and process it into what we need.

What Do We Need to Know to Mine an Asteroid

deep-space-industries-asteroid-construction-lg.jpg

The mining of resources contained in asteroids, for use as propellant, building materials or in life-support systems, has the potential to revolutionise exploration of our solar system. To make this concept a reality, we need to increase our knowledge of the very diverse population of accessible near-Earth asteroids (NEAs).

Agreed that we need to know more about any specific asteriod or large rock in the area ass we will want to bring only what we will need to process it for future use of its materials.

https://arxiv.org/abs/1612.00709

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