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Perry Bowker
2002-May-18, 01:08 PM
"Red Planet" just resurfaced on the Canadian TLC (The Learning Channel) and possibly in the US also. The hour-long program seemed to be a combination of a 'making-of' documentary and an attempt to discuss the science behind the movie. It is the latter that caught my eye...many of the actors, writers, and director were interviewed, and went on at length about how careful they had been to get the science right (how to terraform another planet), and how committed they felt about making a movie with such an important 'message'. And why did they feel this way? Mostly because the Earth is going to become unliveable, you know, and we need to have a backup plan.
The Bad Astronomy? Well,
1. If we make the Earth unliveable, it's unlikely we would not do the same to another planet;
2. It is likely to cost a billion dollars per person to transport people to Mars. Would we likely move more than a handful out of six billion to a new Eden, and who will get to choose?
3. Assuming we could handle 10,000 passengers per trip, and sent one spaceship per week, the population remaining on the Earth would grow faster than they could be emigrated.
So it would have been nice to see this show devoted to the far more practical goal of NOT messing up right here, instead of promoting an objective that is clearly a fantasy. (PS, I recall that as commercial sci-fi goes, this was quite an entertaining movie)

Chip
2002-May-18, 05:55 PM
I missed that show. Was it more of a big commercial for the film rather than a documentary about Mars?

I'm all for Mars exploration by robots, and certainly think a human presence on Mars would be quite an intrepid adventure, but the whole business of going to Mars because Earth has become hostile to life due to our polution, over population, etc., is pointless.

Mars is much much more hostile to earthlife right now, so it naturally would be much easier to prevent polution on Earth from going too far, than to start terriforming Mars out of desperation. That was one of the falicies of Red Planet. If we (or nature - we're not always to blame), let Earth go so far that we'd have to look into terriforming Mars because Earth was already too far gone, we'd never be able to terriform Mars. Mars colonization has to start from a reasonably healthy Earth. (IMO)

informant
2002-May-18, 06:32 PM
Adding to the point:

1. Terraforming Mars would take a long, long, time. (Generations before you could send unprepared, average people to live there. It would probably be quicker to turn off the air conditioning and wait for Mother Earth to take care of pollution.)
2. Mars is smaller than Earth. Would it be able to acommodate all of the Earth's population?

Roy Batty
2002-May-18, 06:43 PM
What about terraforming & populating Mars because, to quote:
'The Earth is just too small and fragile a basket for the human race to keep all its
eggs in' - R.A.Heinlein.

Though I personally probably worry too much about big stuff hitting the earth /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Chip
2002-May-18, 07:26 PM
On 2002-05-18 14:43, Roy Batty wrote:
What about terraforming & populating Mars because, to quote:
'The Earth is just too small and fragile a basket for the human race to keep all its
eggs in' - R.A.Heinlein.
Though I personally probably worry too much about big stuff hitting the earth /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif


That is a strong long term concern. (Having the human race in several locations in case earth gets clobbered by an asteroid.) As Informant said, it will take a very very long time to terriform Mars. (It will also take a long time to "colonize" Mars). "Colonize" as in those classic "pressure domes", or other structures here and there, with several hundred people living and working in various "colonies", but dealing with airlocks, spacesuits, pressurized vehicles, and so forth. They'll have to be there a long time before any terriforming starts.

Ultimately, such a big move may come about because it's in our genes to go, and we rationalize it through the resolution of social, environmental, or political ills.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Chip on 2002-05-18 15:32 ]</font>

Chuck
2002-May-18, 07:42 PM
We could build selfsustaining space habitats in the asteroid belt. Then after earth gets creamed they could wait for the debris to settle and then terraform it.

David Hall
2002-May-18, 07:49 PM
On 2002-05-18 14:32, informant wrote:
Adding to the point:

2. Mars is smaller than Earth. Would it be able to acommodate all of the Earth's population?


Mars may be smaller than Earth, but it also doesn't have all that surface water to get in the way of colonization. I haven't got a clue as to how to calculate the relative surface areas, but my thinking is they'd be roughly equivalent. Mars might even have more land area. Maybe someone here could work it out?

Of course it also depends on just how we'd go about terraforming the planet. If we decided to create free oceans, then the usable area would go down.

Donnie B.
2002-May-18, 09:46 PM
If we look at the history of colonization of the Western Hemisphere as a guide, we might reach the conclusion that the original population of Mars (after the early explorers and trail blazers) is likely to be a hodge-podge of persecuted religious fanatics (Moonies? Scientologists? Unification Levitators?) and criminals (Al Quaida?).

Now, suppose the Earth does get wiped out, and all the future generations of humanity descend from those...

Maybe we should do the Galactic Federation a favor, and just stay here.

Conrad
2002-May-19, 12:24 AM
It's a while since I checked, but I believe the annual military budget of Planet Earth runs into trillions. So we could afford to send people to Mars at a billion per head, IF we chose to stop blowing each other up and planning ever more devious ways to blow each other up.
Who goes? You could use the old "Transportation" criteria of the noble, merciful and wonderful British Empire - steal a loaf of bread or a hankie and as a punishment get sent to the farthest reaches humanity has explored! Actually in the C19 that was Australia not Mars but the principle might hold true for unwilling colonists sent to a hostile environment (except these ones would have to sign a charter swearing never to inflict terrible soap operas on their place of origin)

Martian Jim
2002-May-20, 10:00 AM
you colonise our plannet? NEVER! you will destroy it like you did to earth!

my race will not tolorate this and any attempts to come here will result in you all being turned into frogs by our new metemorphis weapon

GrapesOfWrath
2002-May-20, 10:06 AM
On 2002-05-20 06:00, Martian Jim wrote:
my race will not tolorate this and any attempts to come here will result in you all being turned into frogs by our new metemorphis weapon

That may turn you guys into frogs, but I think it turns us into cockroaches. I'm not sure you want that.

Mars (http://www.planetscapes.com/solar/eng/mars.htm) is just a shade over half the diameter of the Earth, so it's surface area is a quarter--so the dry surface area of Mars is comparable to the dry surface area of Earth. However, "terraforming" Mars would probably include converting a large part of it to water, so that we can waterski.

informant
2002-May-20, 10:55 AM
If we look at the history of colonization of the Western Hemisphere as a guide, we might reach the conclusion that the original population of Mars (after the early explorers and trail blazers) is likely to be a hodge-podge of persecuted religious fanatics (Moonies? Scientologists? Unification Levitators?) and criminals (Al Quaida?)

How about... Moon Hoax believers?... /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

Martian Jim
2002-Jun-10, 09:43 AM
On 2002-05-18 17:46, Donnie B. wrote:
If we look at the history of colonization of the Western Hemisphere as a guide, we might reach the conclusion that the original population of Mars (after the early explorers and trail blazers) is likely to be a hodge-podge of persecuted religious fanatics (Moonies? Scientologists? Unification Levitators?) and criminals (Al Quaida?).



whats a unification leviator? do they levitate people who belong to a group?

Cloudy
2002-Jun-16, 05:59 AM
I hope I'm wrong, but I dont think there will be anything but scientific and perhaps tourist exploration of Mars in this century......

1. Even in the worse case polution scenarios put forth by professional scaremongers, global warming may destroy most coastal cities, innudate allot of land area, shift productive agricultural areas so as to disrupt food production. This would certainly be a rotten thing to happen - but the earth would still be habitable. In fact, large portions of it would be a great deal more habitable than before. Also, keep in mind that this is a worse-case scenario - most knowledgeable sources predict much less extensive effects even if it is occuring.

The "WaterWorld" scenario is pure fantasy, no one with any real knowledge at all takes it seriously.

2. Greenhouse gasses are really the only serious global air polutant (We have dealt with the Ozone problem already, and acid rain is a relatively minor problem compared with those we are discussing) and it is only a problem if you buy the idea that manmade CO2 is causing global warming - and this is far from proven.

I am not as knowledgeable about other forms of polution. Perhaps we are causing some sort of environmental disaster by ocean polution, etc. But, I really doubt we could do something so bad as to kick us off the planet. By and large, man-made environmental problems are local or national, not global. This does not mean they are not serious, as anyone who lives in LA will attest.

IMHO... By the time our environmental impact becomes truly global, technology will have given us ways to reduce our impact - so we may have a greener world in the future than we have today. It would take such a huge global economy to threaten a truly planetary, civilization-killing disaster. And such an economy would produce means to minimize the harm from its production as we always have before - the Earths carrying capacity has been increased many times through modern farming, etc and can be increased again.

In short - Hollywood gives us exagerated scenarios that even its environmental activist friends don't really believe in. The earth will be habitable for the forseable future.

3. A bit off the subject -

If space colonization is so attractive, why have large areas of the earth not been colonized yet? Why does almost no one live in the sea or the antarctic, despite large resources to be had there? What we do is extract the resources with as few people as possible, ship them out, and base our civilization in the comforts of home. This is what would happen in space, were it possible to economicly extract the resources to be found there. And it will be a long time before that happens. I hope I'm wrong....

But There are huge ammounts of oil, gold and other goodies to be had in Northern Siberia and the Antarctic. These places have breathable air. And water. Most people in the industrialized could even scrape together the money to go their personally if they had a good enough reason. But no one goes up there to get the gooddies. These places will be settled long before Mars, and global warming will only make them look more attractive.

I hope I'm wrong but I think what we will do beyond Low Earth Orbit will be limited:

Science, even tourism? Yes, within 20-30 yrs.

Resource extraction or manufacturing? not for a very long time.

Colonization? not for the forseable future, if ever.

xriso
2002-Jun-17, 07:16 PM
I'd just like to point out that if the people of the future can terraform a whole freaking wasteland planet, then I'm pretty sure they can also patch up earth's little environmental problems as well. Also, overpopulation might not be so inevitable. There may just be a natural tendency for people to Stop Doing It.


As a last measure the governments *will* step in and limit offspring per adult to at 1 (population would decay slowly), or maybe only allow 1 offspring per woman (a very sharp decrease in pop). Of course, these rules would have to be followed. How well is China doing with their control program?

Cloudy
2002-Jun-18, 05:03 AM
Overpopulation is NOT invitable. Advanced countries are going through what is called the "Demographic Transition". In other words,
people have fewer children as they grow richer. The majority of industrialized countries will be growing only through imigration or not at all before this decade is out. This is already the case in Japan and France, among other places.

China's one-child policy is working but only through draconian enforcement measures few other places would accept. India may soon displace China as the largest nation in the world measured by population.

And as I have said before... people consume resources, but through technology people also produce resources. The main problem in population growth is not the sheer number of people, but the fact that almost all the growth is occuring in the third world. These countries have neither the infrastructure nor the technology to exploit the productive power of the additional population - or to lessen the environmental impact of so many new bodies.

The solution, IMHO, is to find some way to help the third world become more like us economically ASAP. Trouble is....nobody knows how to do that.......

David Hall
2002-Jun-18, 12:46 PM
There's another nasty side effect to the controlling of population growth. In some countries, the increasing availability of modern medicine is allowing parents to control the sex of the children they have, with a consequence that in some areas boys are starting to outnumber girls by large percentages.

This is especially true in China, with it's one-child policy, but also in other countries like India as well. In some areas the male population is expected to be 15% or more above the female. This means a lot of angry, single men. The cultural side-effects are just now starting to be felt. I've read about women in China being kidnapped to become brides. Terrorists will have an ample supply of recruits. These men are going to start crossing borders in search of better opportunities.

This is the aspect of global population I'm most worried about in the near future. And unless these countries change their views on the worth of females in society, I'm afraid it's going to be a very long time before things will change.

Kaptain K
2002-Jun-18, 03:24 PM
Overpopulation is NOT invitable.
It is, however, self correcting, but Nature's ways are not pretty.

SeanF
2002-Jun-18, 03:34 PM
On 2002-06-18 11:24, Kaptain K wrote:

Overpopulation is NOT invitable.
It is, however, self correcting, but Nature's ways are not pretty.



That's true - but given the choice between

a) Nature decides who lives and who dies, or who reproduces and who doesn't
b) Man (read: Government) decides who lives and who dies, or who reproduces and who doesn't

I'm afraid I'm going to have to go with a) . . .

MongotheGreat
2002-Jun-18, 04:42 PM
Yeah. When's the next Black Death?(smiley face denoting sarcasm)

Kaptain K
2002-Jun-18, 05:00 PM
That's true - but given the choice between

a) Nature decides who lives and who dies, or who reproduces and who doesn't
b) Man (read: Government) decides who lives and who dies, or who reproduces and who doesn't

I'm afraid I'm going to have to go with a) . . .
I'll second that. "Not pretty" is one thing. Evil is another.