So, how does this all fit under the rubric of “How do you terraform Mars/”
I’d say that, before one can hope to see terraforming Mars as a solution to anything, you have to come to this level of respect for the problems that confront us. (For those of you who may just be joining us, I refer you to the previous two posts) the level of significance, in case you forget, is that we might see this planet become uninhabitable by any living thing–well, not “see,” exactly, but you know what I mean.
Why would anyone put making Mars habitable to pond scum–and that is all this plan actually hopes for, or promises–above keeping Earth habitable to the vast array of life it currently hosts, unless they saw a future in which they could not imagine it as remaining host to any of it?
Since this is central to the rest of it, it has to be the starting point for everything that follows.
Once one grants that what we are trying to do is preserve Earth-based life, then, as mentioned before, the whole issue of terraforming is transformed. The very definition of terraforming, in fact, takes on a new meaning. Terraforming,” as currently used, means changing some environment so that humans can survive on it forever without adaptive artificial devices. Remove humanity from that definition and terraforming becomes a much easier task. Some of the current planets or moons in the solar system, such as Europa, might already be terraformed in this new sense.
But, as I also mentioned earlier, to expect the kind of human support necessary to terraform anyplace in the Universe will require that we be included as a possible beneficiary of the attempt. I think that holds as well for the weaker meaning of “terraforming.”
The lack of support space programs have been getting from Congress has been obvious since Vietnam took the public’s eye off them. Robotic missions are not what we expected or deserved after the manned missions to the moon.
As mentioned earlier, I know very little about any Mars advocacy group other than the Mars Society but I believe a one way mission to Mars makes sense. It seems to me very likely that manned exploration of Mars will eventually be central to American policy once again. It is also reasonable to expect this whole question to move from governmental consideration to the private sector. It may even be more likely to go this direction than not. But the whole issue will fail if the culture falls before the change in policy/practice comes. And fall it will if we continue on our present course.
The most powerful argument for starting the terraforming dance is that, once the dancing is begun, many come forth to dance. I never saw it fail. Within two songs from starting the dancing, the floor was always full. Start the dancing. That is how to get Mars terraformed.