Should we turn Mars into a second Earth?
Asking this question is the easiest way to wreak havoc in an astrobiology meeting.
Proponents of the so-called terraforming will passionately advocate that we should modify Mars’s environment to make it habitable. In short, that we should turn the Red Planet into a green one.
Opponents, on the other hand, will vehemently argue against it. Some for scientific reasons (we should study Mars before we modify it), others for ethical ones.
The text that follows is from Sean McMahon, a brilliant astrobiologist and good friend of mine. He discusses an unusual argument against terraforming Mars: its beauty.
The Aesthetic Objection to Terraforming Mars
By Sean McMahon
Mars has been a wandering star, a vengeful God, and latterly a storied world of shifting greenery, huge canals, carved faces, pyramids, aliens, and warrior princesses. Today, it is hard to see Mars through the haze of these cultural-historical associations. In the midst of this haze, it seems quite reasonable to talk about terraforming. If we can, should we not force Mars into an earth-like, humanly habitable state? Should we not seed its deserts with vegetation, flood the lowlands, thicken the atmosphere, make the ...