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planethollywood
2003-Apr-30, 04:16 PM
Would it be ethical to terraform a planet for our use (suchas Mars), if we find, all be it only very simple life forms there?

or do we preserve that planet?

Even still under what circumstances would we comprimise any extra-terrestrial life form for our direct benefit? :roll:

g99
2003-Apr-30, 05:49 PM
In my opinion, if any mlife at all, no matter how small, we should not terraform. Build a base, build domes. But do not terraform. Give the life a chance.

TriangleMan
2003-Apr-30, 05:51 PM
Would it be ethical to terraform a planet for our use (suchas Mars), if we find, all be it only very simple life forms there?


Why? We terraform our own planet quite well without much regard to the life there so I'm pretty sure that if it could be done to another planet we'll eventually get around to doing it.

Glom
2003-Apr-30, 05:59 PM
It's an interesting question. I think this deserves a poll. Current ideas for terraforming would takes thousands of years to work so it's probably not worth the ethical dilemma.

daver
2003-Apr-30, 06:16 PM
For now, the question is moot. Our candidates for terraforming are Venus, Mars, maybe a couple of moons. The technology required to terraform them is pretty close to magic--on the order of that required for interstellar colonization. Most likely it'd end up being simpler to genetically modify ourselves to fit the planet than to modify the planet to fit ourselves (this sounds a bit like a Clifford Simak story)

informant
2003-Apr-30, 07:30 PM
The question will always be moot, in my opinion. Money talks, and ethics walks. If terraforming a planet ever becomes profitable, I don't think our enlightened leaders will give it a second thought.

What could still be done would be to preserve some of the indigenous life in reservations and zoos (laboratories, if it's only microscopic).

Whether or not we terraform an inhabited planet will also depend on whether there are other, non inhabited, planets at hand that we can terraform, of course. If there are alternatives, then that will give ethics a better chance.



Would it be ethical to terraform a planet for our use (suchas Mars), if we find, all be it only very simple life forms there?


Why? We terraform our own planet quite well without much regard to the life there (...)

Yes, and look at how much we've messed it up.

daver
2003-Apr-30, 08:41 PM
Whether or not we terraform an inhabited planet will also depend on whether there are other, non inhabited, planets at hand that we can terraform, of course. If there are alternatives, then that will give ethics a better chance.


Most likely if there is anotther, more attractive planet close at hand, it will be more attractive precisely because it is inhabited (oxygen atmosphere, that sort of stuff). Given FTL and an unlimited choice of planets, we'd probably order them roughly along

(1) Terrestrial, compatible life, no intelligent species
(2) Terrestrial, compatible life, intelligent but friendly species
(3) Terrestrial, incompatible life, no intelligent species
(4) Nonterrestrial, terraformable, no intelligent species

Glom
2003-Apr-30, 09:15 PM
Non-terrestrial? As in a gas giant? That doesn't sound particularly terraformable.

Pinemarten
2003-Apr-30, 09:54 PM
The question will always be moot, in my opinion. Money talks, and ethics walks. If terraforming a planet ever becomes profitable, I don't think our enlightened leaders will give it a second thought.

I agree. As well, any life form we do find, we will probably genetically alter its evolution to serve our purposes.

TriangleMan
2003-Apr-30, 09:59 PM
Yes, and look at how much we've messed it up.

Exactly. We (generally) don't care now so we're not going to care later.
Shame I'll never live to see it happen but the moment we are capable of terraforming a planet - we'll do it.

RickNZ
2003-Apr-30, 10:24 PM
Ethics dont build anything. Look how the modern US and australia and NZ were built.
There were no ethics used there in regards to previous inhabitants.

Right or wrong?

Your call, but do those living in these countries enjoy tthere way of life oppossed to the old way?

Colt
2003-Apr-30, 11:49 PM
It would depend on what the "very simple lifeforms" were exactly.. If they were the remanents of a dieing/dead biosphere (which may be the case on Mars) then I believe that it would be acceptable ethically to terraform the planet. Of course, if we had the technology to terraform something, we would be required to construct a dome enclosing some some of these lifeforms for preservation.

If the lifeform appears to be the planet's first step in evolution then it would really depend on the circumstances. If Terra is dieing and we find some sort of life on Mars while trying to terraform it, I think that we would just nuke it and burn it off of the surface.. Simply Human nature, survival of our own. -Colt

BigJim
2003-May-01, 12:14 AM
I am absolutely in favor of terraforming other planets (i.e. Mars). I don't see why it would not be ethical to make a planet hospitable to life. In fact, I would go so far as to say it would be unethical not to do so. Not to cretae conditions where life can flourish, and instead leaving someplace barren and uninhabitable, is against morality (don't get too upset with me if you don't agree with my choice of words - that's what these are for :) ).

Of course, the first steps we should take in colonizing a planet such as Mars would in volve building domes and the like, and I do not think we should immediately terraform. Life should be searched for, but it is likely it would only be fossilized. Even so, I think making a planet hospitable for complex and intelligent life is a worthy task that should, ethically, take precedence over an environment for microbes. Of course, the microbes can always be preserved. I do not share this view, but I have heard scientists say it would constitute an ethical and moral failure not to provide for, and almost create, life. (I lapse into religion and spirituality here - feel free to skip it or ignore it) I believe that if God gave us the gift of being able to create biospheres and ecosystems, and turn barren, inhospitable desert planets into flourishing forests, streams, oceans, and grasslands, respite with wildlife and human life, we should not squander it but rather exercise it to its fullest extent.

I think the question of whether to leave a planet uninhabitable, except for a few microbes, or to make it habitable, is totally for making it habitable- to create the unique and wonderful diversity of life we have here on our small blue planet.

As Carl Sagan so eloquently put it in a speech about seeing the tiny Earth in a Voyager photograph, (http://www.bigskyastroclub.org/pale_blue_dot.htm)




"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

To not create more blue dots in this gigantic, enormous universe, would go against this very principle, to cherish our biosphere and to treasure all life, wherever it may be, and to always be supporting its propogation. If we confine ourselvees only to our planet and others exactly like, it, we greatly decrease the likeliness and ease of stellar colonization.

As for the technical issue, I will address that in a future post, maybe, but this is about the ethics of terraforming. Suffice it to say that terraforming may be possible to begin on Mars within about a hundred years or so, and would take about 200 years to allow humans to walk outside wearing only oxygen masks, and in 1000 years, to allow humans to breathe and live there as on Earth.

daver
2003-May-01, 01:21 AM
Non-terrestrial? As in a gas giant? That doesn't sound particularly terraformable.

:oops: Sorry, i meant what TOS would call class M. Oxygen atmosphere, humans can survive without aid.

daver
2003-May-01, 01:28 AM
As for the technical issue, I will address that in a future post, maybe, but this is about the ethics of terraforming. Suffice it to say that terraforming may be possible to begin on Mars within about a hundred years or so, and would take about 200 years to allow humans to walk outside wearing only oxygen masks, and in 1000 years, to allow humans to breathe and live there as on Earth.

As long as we're on the subject of terraforming, is it ethical to terraform a planet such that it requires tending? If terraforming Mars requires solar concentrators to be permanently in orbit about Mars, is that ok? How about constant replenishment of the atmosphere with gasses mined from Jupiter?

beskeptical
2003-May-01, 07:00 AM
We don't treat other species on this planet ethically all the time. Heck, we don't treat humans ethically all the time for that matter.

Biological beings exist at the expense of other biological beings. I'm of the persuasion that if there is a good reason and we take as much care to conserve what we can, that it wouldn't be unethical.

If we teraform some place so we can take great vacations there, maybe it wouldn't be the best idea. But if we needed the resources and could make life better for some humans, (not the same as 'make some humans rich'), it might be necessary in the distant future.

And, I think we should make sure we are not impacting intelligent life in a negative way. I presume this thread is talking about a planet with only microbial life.

Pinemarten
2003-May-01, 07:13 AM
Didn't we once terraform Cuba; so we could "take great vacations"?

beskeptical
2003-May-01, 08:28 AM
Didn't we once terraform Cuba; so we could "take great vacations"?

That might be called hotellaform. And in Central America, bananaform. :P

Pinemarten
2003-May-01, 08:41 AM
Would that make Canada an Oilaform or a Hockey forum?

informant
2003-May-02, 12:58 PM
I am absolutely in favor of terraforming other planets (i.e. Mars). I don't see why it would not be ethical to make a planet hospitable to life. In fact, I would go so far as to say it would be unethical not to do so.

Which kind of life?
That’s the ethical dilemma here.


If the lifeform appears to be the planet's first step in evolution then it would really depend on the circumstances. If Terra is dieing and we find some sort of life on Mars while trying to terraform it, I think that we would just nuke it and burn it off of the surface.. Simply Human nature, survival of our own. -Colt

Wow, you come up with some pleasant thoughts. :lol:
It wouldn’t be necessary to nuke anything. Terraformation may be a slow process by human standards, but it’s quite fast from an evolutionary point of view. The environmental changes would happen too fast for indigenous life to adapt. By the time the terraformation was complete, they would be extinct.


Ethics dont build anything. Look how the modern US and australia and NZ were built.
There were no ethics used there in regards to previous inhabitants.

Right or wrong?

Your call, but do those living in these countries enjoy tthere way of life oppossed to the old way?

On the other hand, the US were also responsible for the emergence of modern democracy, through their Constitution. So sometimes ethics does triumph, but it's very difficult. And it's never too late for positive changes to be reversed.


If we teraform some place so we can take great vacations there, maybe it wouldn't be the best idea. But if we needed the resources and could make life better for some humans, (not the same as 'make some humans rich')

...which is the most likely. Terraforming a planet - and getting there - would be pretty expensive.


I presume this thread is talking about a planet with only microbial life.

I don't think there were any restrictions mentioned in the original thread. However, it's natural to address the possible terraforming of a planet with some microbial indigenous life only, as that seems to be the most likely scenario for the near future (Mars).

Argos
2003-May-02, 01:27 PM
I know a planet that needs terraforming: Earth.

As to ethics, I don´t think very inferior forms of life, as micro-organisms, should hinder human colonization of other planets. If there are micro-organisms in Mars, their mutation rate must be very high due to incoming radiation. The average lifespan of a species must be very short. So, there´s no use in preserving such unstable forms of life.

They should be preserved somehow, but not at the cost of the entire territory of a planet.

planethollywood
2003-May-02, 02:38 PM
i can just see the Mars conservationists of the future. their TV ads would go something like "The Mars environment is under threat. Each day the equivelent area of 15 football fields worth of trees are being planted each day. By the year 2345 native Mars desert will be only 1/3 its original area. The only native life on MARS a hardy bacteria is under threat. Old United nations policy on the ethics of terraforming planets based on an early 21 century internet forum discussion had unwittingly condemned this specie."

then it would gone on about sending money to a bunch of greenies (or reddies for Mars?) who have chained themselves to rocks preventing tree planting...

:lol: :lol: :o :lol:

ToSeek
2003-May-02, 04:24 PM
If it's just microbes, I wouldn't have much problem with terraforming, particularly if we can preserve them somehow. We'd have to get up to the level of animal life, at least, before I'd start having ethical concerns. But one would hope that whatever life is there could be preserved somehow, just not over the whole planet.

SAMU
2003-May-04, 09:28 PM
Then too, There may be a change in values by the time are able to reach other worlds in large numbers so that material needs will not be what is sought from contact with other worlds. Specifially, knowledge will be more valuable than material goods or "liebesraum". Knowledge certainly has a higher value to weight ratio than any material known to man. So there may not be the need to adversley impact environments of other worlds. Surley, technology should become advanced enough so that worlds of interest that can be visited by some advancing technological meens (robots, biots, bionics etc.) may not even need to be "terrestrial". Though I suspect that worlds containing life, particularly those contaiing intellegent life, will always be the most interesting and valuable.

Colt
2003-May-05, 02:55 AM
If the lifeform appears to be the planet's first step in evolution then it would really depend on the circumstances. If Terra is dieing and we find some sort of life on Mars while trying to terraform it, I think that we would just nuke it and burn it off of the surface.. Simply Human nature, survival of our own. -Colt

Wow, you come up with some pleasant thoughts. :lol:


Yep. And better yet, if they chain themselves to the rock and we can watch them suffocate.. :wink: -Colt

tracer
2003-May-05, 04:25 AM
i can just see the Mars conservationists of the future. their TV ads would go something like "The Mars environment is under threat. Each day the equivelent area of 15 football fields worth of trees are being planted each day. By the year 2345 native Mars desert will be only 1/3 its original area."
... and without the desert, the sandworms cannot live. Our terraforming is killing the only source of the Spice Melange in the known universe! ;)

snowcelt
2003-May-05, 04:49 AM
tracer. Worry not! the dirty Tleilaxu, and their abominable tanks, can make up for any shortfall!

tvelocity
2003-May-05, 09:07 AM
The ethical viewpoint is a purely anthropomorphic one. The ethics of whether or not to carry out a particular action refer only to whether the consequences of that action would offend our own human sensibilities. We should instead look at the idea of terraforming pragmatically. Is it in the best interests of the human race, and in fact all Terran species to push out a minor idigenous lifeform on Mars in favor of our own? Could we adapt Martian life to coexist with Terran? Could we benefit from such indigenous life if it existed? I can think of many reasons why we should terraform other planets, but the only a few reasons against which are not ethical in nature. I think the pros outweigh the cons.
For a more in-depth view of the idea, complete with ethical dilemmas, read Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson. They are exhaustively detailed books with interesting plots and characters (though the last one does get a little boring.) Robinson speculates through science fiction, on how Mars could be terraformed mostly with currently existing technology.