Gastonia, NC Correspondent-Terraforming is a marvelous idea, and I’d love to see it happen. However, the technological leaps required to make it happen are decades away. We’re still trying to work out how to deal with the effects of prolonged exposure to weightlessness on humans, and we haven’t even yet sent a successful flight to Mars, which along with a couple of Saturn’s moons are the only viable candidates for terraforming in our solar system.
(Forget about extrasolar planets for now. Short of building the kind of gigantic “colony ships” that are the stuff of science fiction, we won’t be getting to any of them any time soon. Our best possible speed isn’t nearly good enough … yet.)
It hurts me to say this, as a lifelong science fiction fan and an ardent technology nut, but terraforming just isn’t going to happen in the lives of our children, or even our great-great-great-grandchildren. Our best bet is to do what we can to fix our nest here, and clean up our acts lest we poison ourselves en masse and let the insects have their turn at the top of the heap. George Carlin once said that he wasn’t concerned about humanity’s effect on the planet, because Earth would eventually shake us off like we shake off a bad cold…let’s not test that idea, shall we?
Owatonna, MN Correspondent-Ever since the first successful manned space mission in the 1960s, we have realistically dreamed of colonizing either the Moon or another planet (Mars is the prime candidate). Modest successes in self-contained habitats such as Biosphere 2 show that it is theoretically possible for a colony to establish itself on a planet such as Mars and begin the process of terraforming the atmosphere to make it suitable for humans to live there.
The biggest problems with terraforming another planet to relieve the potential overcrowding and overconsumption on Earth are time and money. Right now, we only have theories on the possibility of being able to transform the atmosphere of an entire planet. Developing a brand-new technology and validating its effectiveness seems like a process that would take decades of work and collaboration by thousands if not millions of scientists, engineers, and thinkers. Simply paying salaries for millions of workers for multiple generations would translate into trillions of dollars. It’s unlikely that the political will exists to make such long-term commitments when most governments have significant difficulties producing a balanced budget from one year to the next.
The immediate solutions to over-consumption of resources are improving energy efficiency; eliminating consumption of all resources other than those needed to feed, clothe, and house the Earth’s population; and reducing, reusing, and recycling virtually one hundred percent of the resources we still have. Until we reach an absolute crisis level where we’ve consumed something around ninety-nine percent of our resources, terraforming will remain solely in the realm of science fiction books and movies as fascinating entertainment and speculation.
Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent– With renewed interest in space exploration, terraforming has been bandied about has a viable solution to over consumption and the prospects of earth spaces becoming uninhabitable. Though terraforming is rooted in science fiction stories, it has been seriously studied as an alternative to earth living, and it is not considered the “far into the future prospect” that it once was as depicted through science fiction writers.
In simple terms, terraforming is a process in which a hostile planetary environment is modified to make it suitable for human life, which could mean altering another planet’s temperature, surface area, ecology and other environmentally related issues.
If life on earth becomes unlivable, due to overconsumption, and the depletion of food and other natural resources as well as major natural disasters, droughts, nuclear attacks, and other unforeseen circumstances, alternatives have been seriously considered through the terraforming of other worlds.
Those versed and knowledgeable in terraforming have advanced the idea of backup locations for survival and want to undertake plans for transporting humans to colonize the Red Planet through MarsOne. There are other ventures in the works through NASA and the ESA (European Space Agency) that are being considered, such as the habitation of Mars and the Moon.
Other locations under consideration would be those that are situated within the Solar System, such as Venus (and Mars), and would require location in the Sun’s Habitable Zone (Earth, Venus and Mars). Both Venus and Mars presently lack the right atmospheric conditions to sustain life, but their atmospheres could be altered through ecological engineering to support life.
The moons surrounding gaseous planets such as Jupiter and Saturn would also be under consideration, but they too would require considerable alterations with surface temperature increases, atmospheric changes through electrolysis and the introduction of buffer gases.
Other ideas to terraform an inhospitable area include shell worlds and domes that would surround, encase or enclose small planets and other areas in space long enough to make environmental transformations and more permanent habitation.
Terraforming entails more than just one-way missions ferrying anxious earth dwellers to distant planets, the Moon and other heavenly bodies, and many living now question pursuing the idea at all. The expenditures and time involved in ecological engineering alone would be astronomical as would other costs that simply could not be justified without a huge monetary support of the citizens of the world. The main reason for any kind of limited or unlimited terraforming is to reserve and maintain an alternate location that could safely house humanity from extinction, which could occur with any kind of cataclysmic event.
If life on earth becomes unsupportable because of over consumption and overuse by humans or through atmospheric disturbances or unexpected manifestations, a plan does need to be in place for the survival of humankind, and terraforming may be the one way to attain it. The alternatives are few other than “in the air living” on specialized space stations that have their own self-contained resources for sustenance, but who in all of humanity that have lived on terra firma will want to do that other than those placed in the most difficult and disastrous of circumstances? Terraforming is an expensive precautionary measure that will require lots of adventurous and brave participants, but if it preserves a future for mankind then it is worthy of consideration.
Perhaps terraforming on an earthly level would help with overconsumption of natural resources in the present, but that would require ecological and environmental engineers and others involved in terraforming science to go to areas of the earth that are desolate and uninhabitable where they could be made hospitable to generations living now. This too could be costly, but is a short term solution that might force people into realizing the vulnerabilities of the earth and what they and generations after them might be forced into accepting as other planet living.
Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent– According to reports made by environmental scientists, the earth’s resources are drastically depleting.
“Humanity would need five Earths to produce the resources needed if everyone lived as profligately as Americans”, according to Phys.org.
I do not share those sentiments. My beliefs are snuggly tucked and placed elsewhere. As a devoted religious individual, I believe in what the Bible predicts about the earth. “A generation is going, and a generation is coming, but the earth remains forever”, utters the Holy Writing. That is indicative that this earth, irrespective how much and long mankind consumes its resources, will never be left ruined.
I definitely believe in the future of this earth, and based on my study of the Bible, it does not include terraforming other planets to create a similar atmosphere as earth. The Bible says, “the righteous will possess the earth, and they will live forever on it”. The scriptures are clear. It didn’t state that mankind would live forever on Jupiter, Mars, or Pluto, but it specifically mentioned the ‘earth’.
Rather than place my confidence in the belief that other planets will be terraformed, I choose to believe what the Bible says, that one day, this earth will become a paradise – a beautiful garden.
Earth will never become overpopulated nor have its resources entirely consumed that we’d have to terraform other planets in the coming future. That’s stuff you only see and hear in movies.