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Thread: Ethics Of Terraforming

  1. #1 Ethics Of Terraforming 
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    Hi

    I am currently writing an ethics essay on the recent proposal of which the Dutch organisation 'Mars One' makes about colonising the planet Mars. They suggest that they could build, along with the help of other companies such as NASA, a settlement for humans to live in a way to colonise the planet. This is so that we have a 'safe planet' for us to survive on, if ever there was a disaster that destroyed the Earth (asteroids, etc.)

    The organisation says it plans to terraform Mars (make it more Earth-like), by emitting 'greenhouse gases', such as methane and nitrous oxide, into the atmosphere so that those gases will eventually trap the solar energy from the Sun, effectively warming up the atmospheric temperature. An increase in temperature will create moistness in it, creating clouds of water. This water obviously will contain oxygen, which will enable us to breathe on the planet without using a spacesuit (Mars' atmosphere is made up of 95% carbon dioxide).

    However, is it ethical to do this? Some people believe there is life on Mars, whether that is micro-organisms or 'intelligent' life is unknown. Could changing the atmosphere cause this life to die, as it might rely on carbon dioxide to survive? Or should we take an anthropocentric point of view that humans have the highest value, so other life on the planet doesn't matter?

    Environmentalists would state that the environment and Mars itself has value, so we should not change it at all. It is not a resource for us to use, but a thing that has a right in its own, because it is part of the Universe.

    I would love to know what everyone thinks, I find it a really interesting subject. Thank you!
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    Greetings again, AlaFayette.

    I saw a horrific article on Russian TV, an interview of one Langsdorp who wanted to send astronauts on a one-way trip to Mars! They would stay there and die! Until we can communicate faster than light there will be NO possibility of travel beyond the moon, since with 20 mins each way to a Mars probe - as opposed to one second to the Moon - the information requested by the astronauts to save their lives from an emerging crisis would simply not reach them in time.

    We can communicate faster than light however - you can see the disputation over it right on this website!

    TFOLZO
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    Yes, I agree there are too many risks involved to send humans to Mars. One article says that human survival on the journey to Mars is only around 30%. The chance of survival of lasting 3 months on Mars is less than 20%. Too many risks. If anything catastrophic happens, like you said, there would not be enough time to solve the problem. I know these astronauts will know the consequence, and I guess their reasoning for going is "well at least we tried". But for me, I don't think it is ethical to go to Mars. Personally, I think we should leave the planet alone. It's not up to us to change it's atmosphere and environment. And instead of spending billions of dollars going to another planet, why not use that money to save Earth instead? Use the money to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases which are destroying the planet, etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by TFOLZO View Post
    Greetings again, AlaFayette.

    I saw a horrific article on Russian TV, an interview of one Langsdorp who wanted to send astronauts on a one-way trip to Mars! They would stay there and die! Until we can communicate faster than light there will be NO possibility of travel beyond the moon, since with 20 mins each way to a Mars probe - as opposed to one second to the Moon - the information requested by the astronauts to save their lives from an emerging crisis would simply not reach them in time.

    We can communicate faster than light however - you can see the disputation over it right on this website!

    TFOLZO
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    Yes, AlaFayette, you have brought up my other bugbear - energy sources.

    Read about Focus Fusion on the Internet. Eric Lerner is pioneering Boron-Hydrogen aneutronic fusion. It is a form of nuclear power that does NOT produce neutrons so that when finally successful it will power our post-fossil era the way Watt's Steam Engine powered the Industrial Revolution.

    TFOLZO
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    Quote Originally Posted by TFOLZO View Post
    Greetings again, AlaFayette.

    I saw a horrific article on Russian TV, an interview of one Langsdorp who wanted to send astronauts on a one-way trip to Mars! They would stay there and die! Until we can communicate faster than light there will be NO possibility of travel beyond the moon, since with 20 mins each way to a Mars probe - as opposed to one second to the Moon - the information requested by the astronauts to save their lives from an emerging crisis would simply not reach them in time.

    We can communicate faster than light however - you can see the disputation over it right on this website!

    TFOLZO
    Actually, no we can't. None of the many experiments involving quantum phenomena demionstrate FTL communication.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaFayette View Post
    Hi
    However, is it ethical to do this? Some people believe there is life on Mars, whether that is micro-organisms or 'intelligent' life is unknown. Could changing the atmosphere cause this life to die, as it might rely on carbon dioxide to survive? Or should we take an anthropocentric point of view that humans have the highest value, so other life on the planet doesn't matter?
    It is as ethical as terraforming earth itself. There is no evidence of any intelligent or complex life on mars. Yes, changing an environment will change the path of evolution causing extinctions of some and proliferation of others, It is human nature to be anthropocentric.
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    I would say that we won't be sure there are not life forms there until we get there. Once we are there we should seek to preserve them if possible. However if they are insentient life forms then we should get on with terraforming.

    And as to not even going there... Well that would be a bit like saying we should not sail out to sea as we might all drown!
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    Hmm, that's really interesting. I will have to research that further

    Quote Originally Posted by TFOLZO View Post
    Yes, AlaFayette, you have brought up my other bugbear - energy sources.

    Read about Focus Fusion on the Internet. Eric Lerner is pioneering Boron-Hydrogen aneutronic fusion. It is a form of nuclear power that does NOT produce neutrons so that when finally successful it will power our post-fossil era the way Watt's Steam Engine powered the Industrial Revolution.

    TFOLZO
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    It is true that naturally of course we would be anthropocentric, but I myself would prefer to save the environment and the life that could exist on Mars. I think Mars itself has as much value as we do. And I do believe there is life on Mars. There has been many theories that there is water underneath the ice of the poles on Mars, and they have even built a new robot that is able to dig through ice and explore any possible water beneath. I'm sure there would be at least microbial life. Even though it hasn't evolved in billions of years, it doesn't mean we can stop it's evolution.

    Quote Originally Posted by pikpobedy View Post
    It is as ethical as terraforming earth itself. There is no evidence of any intelligent or complex life on mars. Yes, changing an environment will change the path of evolution causing extinctions of some and proliferation of others, It is human nature to be anthropocentric.
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    The difference between going out to sea and space travel is that there is a much higher risk of death, and if there are any problems then there could be some help close to the ship, whereas in space, there is no help. Plus we have to remember that the reason why we're going to Mars is to save the human species from a disaster that may or may not happen to Earth. I just think that we should really be concentrating the billions of money on Earth, rather than Mars.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jilan View Post
    I would say that we won't be sure there are not life forms there until we get there. Once we are there we should seek to preserve them if possible. However if they are insentient life forms then we should get on with terraforming.

    And as to not even going there... Well that would be a bit like saying we should not sail out to sea as we might all drown!
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaFayette View Post
    The difference between going out to sea and space travel is that there is a much higher risk of death, and if there are any problems then there could be some help close to the ship, whereas in space, there is no help. Plus we have to remember that the reason why we're going to Mars is to save the human species from a disaster that may or may not happen to Earth. I just think that we should really be concentrating the billions of money on Earth, rather than Mars.
    You think Columbus stood a better chance of survival?
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    Well no, there was still a very high risk of death. But there is an even higher risk for astronauts. My main argument is that I think we should concentrate on Earth rather than going to Mars.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jilan View Post
    You think Columbus stood a better chance of survival?
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaFayette View Post
    Well no, there was still a very high risk of death. But there is an even higher risk for astronauts. My main argument is that I think we should concentrate on Earth rather than going to Mars.
    Yes it would have been better if the Americas has been left well alone and we had stuck to the Spice Route.
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    Well, to be truthful, personally I just don't like what humans have done to the planet, to animals or each other. We're harming the planet, killing off animal species and killing off each other through wars. But that's just my opinion. It's just logical that we use the money to help create 'greener' ways of living, or to help the poor, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jilan View Post
    Yes it would have been better if the Americas has been left well alone and we had stuck to the Spice Route.
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    Well AlaFayetter,

    Humans have certainly created great damage. Jilan wonders if the Americas should have been left alone - but humans were already there before Columbus. Many animals from South American and Australia - giant sloths, glyptodonts, phorusrhacoids, macrauchenias, diprotodons, marsupial lions etc. etc. were wiped out directly or indirectly (e.g. thru introduced disease) by humans. And Africa and Eurasia lost species too - e.g. mammoths, chalicotheres and Sivatherium.

    This does not justify creating more damage, but major scientific endeavour is required EVEN TO SAVE WHAT IS LEFT. That is why I want my theoretical endeavour always to be practical - hence my lack of involvement in so many of the arguments on these forums.

    OZLOFT
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    Quote Originally Posted by TFOLZO View Post
    Well AlaFayetter,

    Humans have certainly created great damage. Jilan wonders if the Americas should have been left alone - but humans were already there before Columbus. Many animals from South American and Australia - giant sloths, glyptodonts, phorusrhacoids, macrauchenias, diprotodons, marsupial lions etc. etc. were wiped out directly or indirectly (e.g. thru introduced disease) by humans. And Africa and Eurasia lost species too - e.g. mammoths, chalicotheres and Sivatherium.

    This does not justify creating more damage, but major scientific endeavour is required EVEN TO SAVE WHAT IS LEFT. That is why I want my theoretical endeavour always to be practical - hence my lack of involvement in so many of the arguments on these forums.

    OZLOFT
    Sometimes it's good to have a good ol' argument Personally I disagree that a scientific endeavour is needed though. The aim of the Mars Mission is to save the human species. But personally I think we have the same values as any other living thing on this planet. We should be trying to save Earth from 'greenhouse gases', so that other animals and plants can survive. The fact that the icecaps are melting is risking a lot of animal's lives. Because of us.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaFayette View Post
    Hi

    I am currently writing an ethics essay on the recent proposal of which the Dutch organisation 'Mars One' makes about colonising the planet Mars. They suggest that they could build, along with the help of other companies such as NASA, a settlement for humans to live in a way to colonise the planet. This is so that we have a 'safe planet' for us to survive on, if ever there was a disaster that destroyed the Earth (asteroids, etc.)

    The organisation says it plans to terraform Mars (make it more Earth-like), by emitting 'greenhouse gases', such as methane and nitrous oxide, into the atmosphere so that those gases will eventually trap the solar energy from the Sun, effectively warming up the atmospheric temperature. An increase in temperature will create moistness in it, creating clouds of water. This water obviously will contain oxygen, which will enable us to breathe on the planet without using a spacesuit (Mars' atmosphere is made up of 95% carbon dioxide).

    However, is it ethical to do this? Some people believe there is life on Mars, whether that is micro-organisms or 'intelligent' life is unknown. Could changing the atmosphere cause this life to die, as it might rely on carbon dioxide to survive? Or should we take an anthropocentric point of view that humans have the highest value, so other life on the planet doesn't matter?

    Environmentalists would state that the environment and Mars itself has value, so we should not change it at all. It is not a resource for us to use, but a thing that has a right in its own, because it is part of the Universe.

    I would love to know what everyone thinks, I find it a really interesting subject. Thank you!
    Assuming this is true and possible: I despise anthropocentrism and the damage it does to the environment and to other life forms but what is unethical about survival? If it becomes genuinely necessary to escape, should we stay here and commit suicide? It is only instinct to escape danger where it occurs and any animal would do the same. One ethical concern is that only the wealthy would benefit because you would have to pay a lot to be on the ark.
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