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#1 2001-09-21 03:40:11

Adrian
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From: London, United Kingdom
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 642
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Re: When should we terraform

Just to see the balance of view here...

When I say 'fully terraform' I mean terraformation so that Mars becomes Earth-equivalent and humans and animals can exist on the surface without any assistance on all but the highest peaks.

'Partial terraform' would a Mars where humans could exist unassisted on the lowlands, but at medium and high altitudes assistance (e.g. breathing apparatus) would be required.

'Colonization and referendum' would have over one million Martian citizens taking part in a referendum to decide whether to terraform and what course of terraformation to take.


Editor of New Mars

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#2 2002-03-05 23:23:18

Karl Evans
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Registered: 2002-03-05
Posts: 4

Re: When should we terraform

Can you guestimate timetables for these?  I suspect that even if we started terraforming today, we would have only a partially terraformed planet by the time I shuffle off the mortal coil.  (And I am not old.)  Additionally, colonization with an atmosphere or even a partial one would cost a hundredth of what it would otherwise.
     Or do I assume too much?  It seems that every colonist would have to be trained in the care and feeding of a pressure suit ($), supplied with one ($$), supplied with sufficient expendables and spare parts for it ($$$), and then the colonist PLUS all her equipment has to be lifted out of this 20-mile gravity well, and set gently down on the surface of Mars months later ($$$$).
   True, we will affect the planet...but I don't think the change will be detrimental.

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#3 2002-05-01 11:36:49

GOM
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Registered: 2001-09-08
Posts: 127

Re: When should we terraform

I don't think we know nearly enough to even consider terraforming another planet.  Nor do we have the money or the energy required....

Besides, we're not doing such a great job maintaining the one planet we have now.

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#4 2002-05-02 15:01:24

Aaron Chester
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Registered: 2002-02-28
Posts: 18

Re: When should we terraform

I disagree with GOM and Alexander about terraforming.  As humans we have always tried to "terraform" our surroundings so that we can live there more comfortably.  This is not arrogance as some might suggest.  Rather it is an intense longing to live someplace and be a part of that place.  For those who went West in the United States, they wanted to be a part of the wilderness and see the rugged beauty.  Yes, others followed who destroyed some of that beauty, but even now that beauty still exists in the West.

For others it is the pleasure they get in reshaping something inhabitable.  Much like an artist reshapes a canvas or clay to make it something desirable to look at.  I can't wait until we have terraformed Mars and pictures are taken of the kind of plant life and animal life and sunsets we see on Mars.  Can you imagine the size of trees on Mars? 

I get goosebumps just thinking about it!  wink

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#5 2002-05-02 18:57:21

Phobos
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Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: When should we terraform

I don't see any problems with terraforming Mars if very extensive research is done to find native martian life and the results are negative.  We minus well face the fact that in five billion years, nearly the time it took homo sapiens to evolve, the sun will pretty much kill off all life in the inner solar system anyway.  So I think humans should reach for space even if they've proven to be environmentally irresponsible at times and keep intelligence alive in the universe.


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#6 2002-05-07 10:08:27

Peter Pevensie
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From: Terceira Island, Azores, Portu
Registered: 2002-05-03
Posts: 39

Re: When should we terraform

I didn't vote...too many assumptions.  Survey findings regarding life on Mars are at the center of the question for me.  If life exists there now -- on any level -- then from my perspective we have no right to terraform.  If there's no life, then I agree with the poster above who stated that mankind has always "terraformed" his surroundings to make them more comfortable.  (Wouldn't "anthropoforming" be a more suitable term?)  Technologically speaking, it's only a matter of time before we're doing it on a planetary scale.


"When I think about everything we've been through together, maybe it's not the destination that matters. Maybe it's the journey..."

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#7 2002-05-30 19:21:01

A.J.Armitage
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Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 239

Re: When should we terraform

If life exists there now -- on any level -- then from my perspective we have no right to terraform.

Why not?


Human: the other red meat.

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#8 2002-06-18 20:42:53

Aetius
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From: New England USA
Registered: 2002-01-20
Posts: 173

Re: When should we terraform

I believe that the first priority of Martian colonists should be to ensure the long-term survival of their civilization, by relentlessly expanding the resource extraction and materials processing sectors of their economy.

Terraforming should be done, in my opinion, because it improves the economic potential of Mars. But it is only one of Society's many needs. Educating children, providing for the needs of the elderly, maintaining a strong military, and terraforming (to say nothing of foreign aid and other things) will all claim a slice of the budgetary pie. Contrary to Kim Stanley Robinson's wonderful books, I truly doubt that Earth governments will foot the bill for terraforming. Different Martian settlements will have to decide how much or little they wish to contribute.

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#9 2002-06-18 20:46:32

Aetius
Member
From: New England USA
Registered: 2002-01-20
Posts: 173

Re: When should we terraform

Microbes don't have rights. Humans do.

Star Trek can keep the "Prime Directive". I have zero use for it.

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#10 2002-06-19 13:17:46

sollucky
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Registered: 2002-06-19
Posts: 5

Re: When should we terraform

All life changes the environment around it. Earth it self has changed because of life. When we go to Mars we should look and see if there is life on it. If we find life hidding in more hospitiple places we should assist it. Change the planet to help out that life to retake the surface and take a course of its own. But if nothing is found terraform it and lets bring life to it. This not only will provide us with a planet to expand to but help us better understand what we are doing on Earth.


Dreams are realities yet to be shaped

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#11 2002-06-24 22:10:09

Xxein
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Registered: 2002-06-24
Posts: 2

Re: When should we terraform

The law of Nature here on earth is, and has always been survival of the fittest, has it not?

Something to think about is the fact that Once upon a time, there were flowing rivers. With flowing water I’m betting there was bacteria and the start of life. However, some drastic event happened and that bacteria or microorganisms are now lying dormant or flat out dead. The only thing that will ever help them between now and our sun’s destruction are Human beings engineering the plant to be more hospitable.

Some phrase comes to mind and I forgot what movie it was from… maybe Independence Day?

They use up all the natural resources then move on. That is exactly how human beings are. We can’t help it. It’s just how we are weather we like it or not.

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#12 2002-06-25 00:08:09

JGM
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Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 26

Re: When should we terraform

The law of Nature here on earth is, and has always been survival of the fittest, has it not?

Depends on how you define "survival of the fittest." According to the late Stephen Jay Gould, this doesn't always mean dog-eat-dog but sometimes implies that creatures can best cooperate to find an advantage against nature. Many symbiotic relationships between species are in this category, particularly in regions where nature has the upper hand and there are few species inhabiting large tracts of land (i.e., the Siberian tundra).

Suppose there is microscopic Martian life found and it's not doing particularly well- maybe barely holding on in a few desperate niches. Perhaps our efforts to terraform could give it a hand and allow it to thrive. Then suppose we can commune with it in such a way that it can also aid us in our efforts to survive in a land that is even more extreme to us as it is to them.

Rather than a choice between microbes and man it might be best for microbes and men to help each other survive. Could be the start of a beautiful relationship!

Joel

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#13 2002-06-25 18:32:20

Phobos
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Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: When should we terraform

Depends on how you define "survival of the fittest." According to the late Stephen Jay Gould, this doesn't always mean dog-eat-dog but sometimes implies that creatures can best cooperate to find an advantage against nature. Many symbiotic relationships between species are in this category, particularly in regions where nature has the upper hand and there are few species inhabiting large tracts of land (i.e., the Siberian tundra).

     I especially find it odd how some people think Darwinism can be applied to societies and politics.  Natural selection has nothing to do with creating a culture that seeks to reward the greediest and merciless members of its society.  I think ants make a good example of a society that couldn't exist efficiently if its members were in continuous turmoil with each other.  I think Hitler proved fairly effectively what kind of society we'll end up with if we go to pains to weed out those we don't think have a right to live as a kind of "forced" natural selection.


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#14 2002-06-25 20:43:19

Aetius
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From: New England USA
Registered: 2002-01-20
Posts: 173

Re: When should we terraform

I couldn't agree more.

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#15 2002-06-28 07:44:49

martin
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Registered: 2002-06-26
Posts: 5

Re: When should we terraform

Depends on how you define "survival of the fittest." According to the late Stephen Jay Gould, this doesn't always mean dog-eat-dog but sometimes implies that creatures can best cooperate to find an advantage against nature. Many symbiotic relationships between species are in this category, particularly in regions where nature has the upper hand and there are few species inhabiting large tracts of land (i.e., the Siberian tundra).

     I especially find it odd how some people think Darwinism can be applied to societies and politics.  Natural selection has nothing to do with creating a culture that seeks to reward the greediest and merciless members of its society.  I think ants make a good example of a society that couldn't exist efficiently if its members were in continuous turmoil with each other.  I think Hitler proved fairly effectively what kind of society we'll end up with if we go to pains to weed out those we don't think have a right to live as a kind of "forced" natural selection.

I think Hitler proved fairly effectively what kind of society we'll end up with if we go to pains to weed out those we don't think have a right to live as a kind of "forced" natural selection.

  who is going to decide what is best for whom?
how are we going to get out of tricky situations like above?


isnt all this talk about being 'just' to the rest of the species just a sort of 'moral insurance' against a possible exploitation of ourselves by somebody else.?(justify action against a Godly retribution?)

i believe in future if genetic 'enablisation' of human babies becomes a reality then 'naturally' born 'less enabled' /diseased children would grow up to sue their parents for depriving them of a happier life.(is this too far fetched?)


there were times when we could leave such questions of ethics to an entity called GOD  and HIS proponents(and largely still influenced by the same in a majority of the world)

 

   nevertheless if human have to continue this dream of life then certainly something should be done about the ethics of exploitation.
symbiosis is likely contender ,its like evolution isnt it?
and evolution is a 'natural' process! big_smile

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#16 2002-07-13 12:47:55

Palomar
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From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: When should we terraform

I especially find it odd how some people think Darwinism can be applied to societies and politics.  Natural selection has nothing to do with creating a culture that seeks to reward the greediest and merciless members of its society.  I think ants make a good example of a society that couldn't exist efficiently if its members were in continuous turmoil with each other.  I think Hitler proved fairly effectively what kind of society we'll end up with if we go to pains to weed out those we don't think have a right to live as a kind of "forced" natural selection.

*Exactly!  Phobos, you expressed my own thoughts on this matter exactly.  Nature isn't influenced [nor does it act upon or against] -- lies, prejudices, rumors, indoctrination, distortions of fact, censorship, vanity, ulterior motives, agendas, etc. -- those things don't exist in Nature.  Thus, natural selection is just that -- Natural. 

In the scope of human affairs, not so.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#17 2002-07-13 12:49:11

Auqakah
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From: England
Registered: 2002-07-13
Posts: 175

Re: When should we terraform

Just a few very quick (did I say quick? :0 )  reasons why (mostly aesthetic reasons) we should never terraform Mars.

If we terraform Mars, we lose the vivid, beautiful blue sunsets, and the vibrant red sky. Even if we "only" partially terraform Mars, we change the composition of the atmosphere, probably by adding more CO2 - if we do that, even only to one bar, then the sky would be milk white.
If we terraform Mars, the regolith may well collapse over a vast area in the northern hemisphere. It may well be worth taking a look at the Tharsis region, to see just how much water ice is sitting around in that region. The big problem is, the Martian lithosphere is probably already under a great deal of strain - all of the prince volcanoes, and Olympus Mons, are at the absolute maximum height that they can be. That is surely an awesome amount of pressure on the lithosphere, even in Martian gravity. Now consider the possibility that that weight and mass could well be sitting on pockets of water ice and/or liquid water. Now heat up the planet with terraforming, increase the pressure of the atmosphere........
.....and by doing that you increase the the amount of pressure being put on the lithosphere. Imagine a landslide. Now imagine a landslide, say, the size of the USA. Now naturally, the large volcanoes would be very attractive spots to live in - they are also conveniently cratered, so you could dome the craters without as much hassle as building an entire dome structure in the open (with the added bonus of the probability of another impact on that same sight being rather low, in comparison). So, imagine Olympus Mons. Terraforming is underway. The atmosphere is slowly heating, by a few degree's Kelvin every year, slowly creeping upwards... And the water ice underneath the Tharsis region, if there is a large amount of it, begins to sublime faster... Then, as the heat increases, it starts to melt. The ground above begins to slide, slowly, each layer following the path of least resistance... Until a critical point is reached, and all those pretty mountain-side crater-domes are smashed by billions of tons of falling rock. Not a pretty picture. Now maybe thats not very likely.... not on Tharsis, maybe. But it is true that changing Mars would mean exactly that. You cant change a whole planet "a little". You either change it, or you dont. Consequently the whole surface would be disrupted. Whole areological features would be lost. In some places, three, maybe four, billion years worth of areological history would be destroyed. We would lose so much beauty (go out into the deserts of Australia, and look at the rock formations, ignore any life you see... go to Arizona, do the same... and tell me that there is no beauty there without the life) and so much history, and lose so many lessons that that ancient world can tell us, about itself and its (and our) neighbours. We live here, on this world, and we are slowly destroying it. Lets not go to Mars and do the same to a world to which we do not even belong, for that would be truly unforgivable ... and once its done,

We Can Never Go Back


Ex Astra, Scienta

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#18 2002-07-13 21:36:20

Aetius
Member
From: New England USA
Registered: 2002-01-20
Posts: 173

Re: When should we terraform

I don't want to go to Mars to play with rocks or see a sunset. I want to help build a new civilization. Mars will never reach its economic potential until it has been at least partially terraformed.

Colonists, for their part, need to use a little forethought when considering where they establish settlements. They would be fools to site a new town in an area bound to become dangerously unstable once temperatures increase.

Aesthetic arguments are not without some little value. But to me, the prospect of billions of well-fed, well-educated, prosperous Martians enjoying meaningful peace is far more important than preserving a world whose beauty has no value without humans around to appreciate it.

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#19 2002-07-14 01:57:56

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

Re: When should we terraform

Auqakah makes a compelling case for a red Mars and his "We Can Never Go Back", which he puts at the end of each post, is almost mesmerising!!
   But I'm with Aetius! Bringing life to Mars is, in my opinion a noble gesture, not an offence against nature.
   And besides, even if Mars is currently sterile (which I do NOT believe myself), you can't go there to admire the sunsets without changing it in the process. A crew of 4 or 6 people, there for 2 months or 18 months, must contaminate the regolith with Earth bacteria. There can be no question of this not occurring. Every part of a human is laden with bacteria, the inside of the lander will be full of bacteria and moulds, and any drilling apparatus we drag out of the ship will innoculate the surface every time we use it!
   My belief is that impact exchanges and even some of our probes have transferred life to Mars already. It's no longer a virginal planet! Too late to put Mars into a chastity belt now.
   I see the future of Mars as infinitely enriched by a viable and varied biosphere .... new life, like a new baby, is a beautiful and hopeful thing! Maybe we're the cosmic midwife God intended for Mars. (Sorry if this sounds schmaltzy ... but Auqakah started it!! )
                                           big_smile


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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#20 2002-07-15 04:53:23

Jan-Erik
Banned
Registered: 2002-07-15
Posts: 9

Re: When should we terraform

Wherever humans go, they change their environment. Some times for the better, some times for the worse. Some day humans will live and work; have fun and make love; on Mars. They will raise martian children and build new martian cities. And in the course of doing so, they will change their newly adopted red world and make it more to their liking. That mean no hardsuits(in the short run, (after first permanenet base established), id est 10+ years?) and breathable atmosphere(in the long run, i.e. 40+ years?). This will expand the biosphere for all life, and historians will one day call it

...the terraforming of Mars...

. Just as sure as no environment is static, there will be change coming to the martian environment, with or without our help. It will be a question how influential humanity should become in the universe. Do we sit back and watch, or do we get in on the action? Do we rise to face new challenges or do we stay on earth and get exterminated by the next planet buster? I do hope that there will be a "human history of Mars" and that it will not become "just a repeat" of what has happened so far on Earth. Sane people should go to Mars, to show the universe that humanity can offer more than greed and injustice, and that humanity belongs between the stars, as a herald for all life; terran and martian life, or whatever life that we might stumble upon elsewhere in our solar system.

To me it is clear that leaving Earth, our home, will be synonymous with "terraforming" Mars, since all other destinations that we can reach will be more dependent on home world logistics and not adequatly selfsufficient to harbour an expanding colony. Sure, we will have outposts but Mars will be the New World for many martian years to come... big_smile

MS member 5473
Oslo, Norway

Ad astra!

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#21 2002-07-15 05:43:43

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

Re: When should we terraform

They will raise martian children and build new martian cities. And in the course of doing so, they will change their newly adopted red world and make it more to their liking. That mean no hardsuits(in the short run, (after first permanenet base established), id est 10+ years?) and breathable atmosphere(in the long run, i.e. 40+ years?).

Just a question....how would it be possible to raise the atmospheric pressure on Mars to make hardsuits obsolete in just 10+ years, and breathable atmosphere in as little as 40 years?  Anything you've read that indicates that terraforming on this super-rapid timescale could be possible?  I was under the impression that it would take at least a thousand years ??? before walking around out in the open on Mars would be possible.

BTW, welcome to the New Mars forums, Jan-Erik!

B

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#22 2002-07-15 07:41:57

Jan-Erik
Banned
Registered: 2002-07-15
Posts: 9

Re: When should we terraform

My timescales are as follow:

T= 0 : We have 1 lasting human Mars base
T= ca.10 - 40 : Dense enough atmosphere to support "softsuits", or even, "shirtsleeve" and a face mask!?(at suitable low elevation areas)
T= ca.40 - 160 : Breathable atmosphere?(at suitable low elevation areas)
(T= Terran years!)

I might be optimistic, but note that it could take quite some time before humans get permanently established on Mars; or go to Mars at all; adding some extra time to "the equation"... But aside from that, I firmly believe, from the day humanity has bases on Mars, that we should be talking about decades(that was what I meant by writing 10+years, sorry if I did not make myself clear enough...)), not centuries, before we can get the atmosphere dense enough on Mars to support a "shirt sleeve" environment, or a "softsuit" environment, not on Olympus Mons surely, but maybe in the Hellas basin? And if we can get "into our shirts", I believe it is just an engineering challenge to give us some breathable air, that could take longer still, but 50 to 100 years are not that optimistic I think. (By 40+ I meant time intervalls of 40 years, sorry if I did not make myself clear enough...)) NASA, if I have not misread them, talks about 20 years of preparation before going at all!!! Now that is frustrating when we have the technology capable of taking humans there to day...so my assumptions are really based on there being technological progress between now and the day we have humans permanently on Mars and that the "martians" want to catch a tan... wink  (In short "future optimism" big_smile ) If we have the will, it can be done!

I caugth some of this "future optimism" from reading the book "The Case for Mars" by Robert Zubrin and Richard Wagner, and the books "Red Mars", "Green Mars" and "Blue Mars"  by Kim Stanley Robinson ; here by recomended must reads!!!  :0

Ad astra! :angry:

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#23 2002-07-15 09:29:51

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

Re: When should we terraform

Well, Jan-Erik, it's certainly refreshing to see someone as *optimistic* as you are--let's hope our future Martian settlers share your views that "It can be done!"

Anyhow, I've been thinking that one way to terraform Mars "quickly" is to gather ice-rich comets and asteroids and aerobrake them into the Martian atmosphere...  If we had the technology to go out and capture these bodies, there is no reason why we couldn't "harvest" them by the dozen, pumping up the atmosphere in relatively short order.  I think the biggest challenge would be finding nitrogen, as a breathable atmosphere would need to be made up about of 70% of this inert gas (which is needed for large-scale plant growth as well.)  While a good deal of nitrates could probably be released from the regolith...this would surely take centuries, so again, if the Martian pioneers were able to venture to the outer planets such as Saturn and Uranus and capture nitrogen-rich moonlets (<500 meters) that are likely to exist out there; these could be ferried to Mars as well, which would assist greatly in building up a breathable atmosphere in decades rather than centuries.

But we'd better do this quick, before an established "political order" sets in on Mars, preventing any sort of "radical" terraforming measures to take place..LOL..   wink

B

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#24 2002-07-15 10:53:05

Mark S
Banned
Registered: 2002-04-11
Posts: 343

Re: When should we terraform

The most important thing mankind should remember when terraforming is not to be too hasty in choosing a time to begin.  Most people are restrained enough to say, "let's look for life and make sure the planet is dead before we begin to terraform."  But at what point do we give up the search for life and declare the planet dead?  Mars is a large world, and it will take years to establish an answer to that question.  Even if we spend thirty years looking for life and find nothing, there is nothing to say that Mars didn't support life at some point in the past, whether it was extinct Martian life or extraterrestrial transients.  Terraforming could destroy this evidence we had been looking for.  Although most of us agree on terraforming, I think that the decision on when to change Mars from "red" to "green" will have to wait for some time, perhaps until the 22nd century.


"I'm not much of a 'hands-on' evil scientist."--Dr. Evil, "Goldmember"

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#25 2002-07-15 13:19:20

Auqakah
Member
From: England
Registered: 2002-07-13
Posts: 175

Re: When should we terraform

I dont see a reason to terraform Mars. What would be wrong with doming craters? I'm sure the problems with radiation exposure could be solved, in half the time it would take to terraform. And on top of that, craters are less likely to be struck again. After all, a hugely complicated and expensive terraforming program that could last as long as a thousand years, or even longer, as compared to a project to overcome the difficulties of producing equipment so we can survive in the Martian environment with relative ease, seems rather wasteful. The only good argument for terraforming, truly, is comfort. And why do people want to go to Mars, anyway? It sure isn't because it's easy. And if we make it too easy, what lessons will we learn? Consider what would happen if we did terraform Mars, fully, with no hitches, say three hundred years from now. Granted, that would be a crowning achievment for mankind, and suchlike - but what would it be worth? Perhaps a small degree of breathing room, and some experience, that perhaps might even be unnecessary in three hundred years time?
But consider if we leave Mars as it is, and battle against the elements, so to speak. At the end of such a project to create the tools and equipment to live, safely and comfortably, on Mars - and to be able to move around outside at will, with no restrictions, except breathing apparatus and a suit designed say, to use a combination of wasted body heat and the energy produced by movement to keep you warm. That means that not only are you gaining expertise in a number of area's which are critical to the developement of space exploration (such as radiation shielding, etc) but you are also leaving Mars as it is, which in itself is an advantage. Understanding how Mars developed, in relation to how the Earth developed, is very important to understanding better how the world around us works. A terraformed Mars is a corrupted Mars, and any study of the planet itself would become little more than useless. Admittedly, maybe it would be simpler to simply leave Mars as it is, until enough data has been collected to satisy everybody. That is, both the people who wish to know if Mars is home to life (and if it is, then we most definitley do not have the right to terraform - it isnt our world anyway, no more than the Carribean was to the Europeans when they first arrived, and today there are no living Carib Indians - as that could jeapourdize any future further developement of said life) and the people who wish to understand how Mars was formed - the areologists. This seems to be about the best approach, to me. Simply because this would mean that Mars would never ever be terraformed - no scientist is ever fully satisified with their understanding of their field.
But, consider if we do terraform. What happens if we make the choice, begin the whole operation, get halfway down the road - so to speak - and then the funding falls apart? A whole planet would be polluted, changed, and potentially devastated - for nothing. It is perhaps not usually right to not do something simply because something bad might happen - but something bad that can happen has a habit of happening whenever you dont want it to. And lets face it, things on good old Earth have never been stable. And any terraforming on Mars would depend on things on Earth being relativley stable. So ask yourself this, would the terraforming of Mars ever even be completed? And if there is a chance that it won't, do we as a race have the right to devastate the natural environment of a whole planet regardless? And if we think we do.... what does that say about the human race? Throughout history, bad choices have been made - and I'm reasonably sure that if it ever does happen, the terraformation of Mars will be one of them, because if things go pear-shaped, it won't matter - because

We Can Never Go Back


Ex Astra, Scienta

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