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Jim Oberg

It seems the content of my book 'New Earths' (http://www.jamesoberg.com/earth.html) and a lot of other stuff I published on that theme in the last quarter century has been swallowed up in the 'memory hole', the only thing I can find on line is my 'politician's guide to terraforming" in the May 20, 1991 issue of 'Roll Call' Congress's newspaper, at http://www.jamesoberg.com/05201991terraforming_mar.html. Let me see if I can scan some of the old stuff and get it circulating again, in honor of the conference.



First - wonderful blog!

Second, for what it's worth...Reading your post and the McKie piece in the Observer, I am left with a disturbing sensation. If the general readership of a paper like the Observer is left with the notion that terraforming is 'right around the corner', and is, of course, totally unethical and immoral, then won't, in at least a portion of the public mind, ANY program of Mars exploration be seen as a precursor to the terraforming of Mars? The robotic and manned exploration of Mars would be nothing more than the first step in the destruction of the Martian environment and the 'genocide' of Martian bacteria.

Now this is, of course, silly. Those who favor the preservation of rainforests, deserts, the Artic and the Antarctic, don't believe that researchers should have no access at all to these environments. But, it is not inconceivable to imagine that if Martian life is discovered, there will be calls to cease all exploration and study of Mars. And if the the general public sees little distance between Spirit, Opportunity, Beagle 2 and terraforming, it's not hard to imagine such an extreme view winning hearts and minds among substantial pluralities in Europe and North America.


I share your concerns, Leonard. In fact, given the politicization od the UK press, I'm rather certain the slant in the Observer is deliberate and intended to appeal to the paper's readership.

The probability that any discovery of Martian life will generate calls to quarantine the planet reflects those Earthlings who believe any human involvement in the planet's environment is unethical. The counter to that argument is that humans have every right to be here (and anyplace else we can travel to) and have an ethical responsibility to use and manage resources properly to support ourselves.

Scott Shinn

These are all really good points.

I think that we should move to make it habitable. Obivously restoring the magnetic field is the first goal. Then make it Earth-like.

Frankly, I think that it is silly to worry about it now we don't have the ability yet to terraform.



Putting the cart before the horse, aren't we? ;-)

Respectfully, my comment and billg's follow-up are meant to assert that it is not silly, but vitally important, to think about how contemporary media outlets and activists will spin discussions of Mars exploration. If Mars exploration is simple-mindedly equated with terraforming, then the prospect of western governments terminating all Mars exploration is a real possibility.

I have no idea where Mars exploration and future science and engineering will lead. But, I'd love to know, and I support my government spending a respectable and responsible amount on solar system exploration and manned spaceflight in order to answer our current questions and pose new ones.

At the same time, do we, as space exploration supporters, want to support no-holes-barred terraforming of Mars at any cost, no matter what we find there?

If there is a rudimentary ecosystem on Mars, it would one of the most important discoveries in the history of human civilization. Studying the origins, rise, progress, and current state of Martian life would do so much to answer and ask questions about Terran biology - it would irresponsible in the extreme to advocate plowing under Martian biomass before we understand it.

Taking such a stand will do more to undermine Martian exploration that further it.

Given the steps the JPL Galileo team went to make sure that the Galileo did not impact and disrupt any potential ecosystem on Europa, I have to believe that the current paradigm is 'do no harm'. It's a sensible stand.

I'm supportive of alot of the stands taken by the modern environmental movements. That said, many in these movements are prone to emotionalism and irrationalism. We would do well not to make the American and European space programs tempting targets for environmental extremists to place in their crosshairs.


Wow, interesting and I bieelve that life could have existed there million years ago. And if we don't stop treating the earth as bad as we do at the moment it might get wet, too.btw: first english blog I explored, you have a new reader.


I went to the trouble of riippng all of it from YT's php/flash script, transcoding and having to install VLC to do it all, and when concatenated there's clipping or breaks or something.Goddamnit. Binaural recording is crazy though- yknow its not that hard to reproduce... cough cough.

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