A recent History Channel program about space exploration shed light on the concept of ‘ecogenesis’, of Mars in particular. For those not familiar with this activity, also known as ‘terraforming’, it involves catalyzing the development of a new or altered ecosystem.
The television program went on to suggest that as humans venture to Mars with the intent of colonizing the red planet, its environment might be altered to provide a more suitable and attractive place for human settlement. Introducing various biological and chemical agents would begin the long process of changing Mars’ atmosphere and weather, and eventually might generate an Earth-like place to hang our hats.
The scientist/explorer in me found all of this very interesting, HOWEVER, I believe that we humans have some priorities to get straight before we selfishly take over the cosmos. I am fully in favor of forward thinking, and making innovative strides to advance our species and our quality of life…but let’s get a few things in order.
First, consider the ecological, political, and financial problems here on Earth. Our current state of existence is far from sustainable, yet to responsibly explore and settle in a new frontier would require a more intricate knowledge of how the ‘world turns’…literally. We take, and take, and take; and until recently much of this taking was without consideration for how the planet would respond. We desperately need a planetary management plan, a true and practical Gaia, that works , and is sustainable. This model can then be cookie cuttered to other planets. I’m all for venturing to, and settling on Mars and beyond, but let’s get things right on this planet before we mess up the rest of the solar system.
Taking a deeper look at the ecogenesis concept, you will see that its success is built on the availability of water. We need water to drive environmental processes, evolution, and to survive. Herein lies an even bigger problem than human selfishness – the problem of priorities. Our Blue Planet is blue for a reason…it’s covered by water. We don’t need Mars to have oceans – we need to properly manage and utilize ours.
Earth is overpopulated, polluted, crippled by failing economies, and constantly threatened by one species that rules the from 25% of the planet’s surface. Sounds like a fun place to visit, yes? If I were an alien visitor and saw Earth for the first time, I would seek to exploit the opportunity within the part of the planet that holds the resources that life is so dependent on…the ocean.
So here we are with the greatest known resource [water] in the universe right here in our backyard, and despite financial meltdowns, we are spending BILLIONS upon BILLIONS in trying to go to another planet that we will likely ruin do to poorly understood processes. It’s ecogenocide.
For less than 1% of the funds allocated to space exploration, humans could take their first steps to oceana incognita, develop a sound understanding of this critical life-sustaining resource, and set up the start of a permanent residence that would catalyze the much needed planetary symbiosis with our species.
It’s out there, and its for the taking. prime real estate awaits – not on Mars, but in our backyards, beneath the waves.