Much as I liked the show, this is about the actual planet. As someone who writes about Mars, I’ve got kind of a vested interest–then again, as a resident of Earth I’ve got kind of a vested interest anyway. Assuming we don’t manage to wipe ourselves out (a prospect which, though it will always remain a possibility, seems increasingly unlikely) humans are eventually going to have to go to Mars.

Going to Mars presents a number of problems for us, both in transit and in the ways Mars is inhospitable (Mary Roach, author of Stiff, has a great new book on the subject). Mars, for example, has weather which will make some of the lessons we learn from a Lunar colony hard to cross-apply. But it does have soil, which Luna doesn’t. Either way, if we’re gonna live there a long time, it’s gonna have to get an oxygen atmosphere and an ecosystem.

Terraforming–big word for a big operation. How would we even begin to do it?

Turns out, Charles Darwin was at the back of the world’s first experiment in terraforming. With the help of the Royal Navy, he created an artificial ecosystem. New Scientist has a great article on it.


  1. Dan,
    I’m not as sure as you are that we are in any way past the threat of rogue nuclear powers (and even mainstream ones).
    Since the breakup of the USSR, thousands of existing nuclear weapons are either sitting around unguarded, some even ‘lost’. With groups that possibly have access to these, as well as those that have built their own, (many showing very little interest in their own well-being,) I beleive we are, so far, just plain lucky that at least one nuclear weapon has not been utilized.
    The threat to the world because of this, and because we really just don’t know who has WMA capabilities for sure anymore, is still a very real thing.
    God save us from human error and just plain crazy people!
    For this reason, I believe it is even more important that we pursue the kind of terraforming technology that you’re talking about, among others that will establish human colonies off of earth. The survival of the human race depends upon our ability to eventually colonize other worlds.
    Star Trek had it right with the genesis project!

    Mary Laura

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