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article imageOp-Ed: WIRED and bleat about NOT terraforming Mars

By Paul Wallis     Jul 30, 2018 in Science
A new study says terraforming Mars can’t be done “with existing technology”. Well, duh. You don’t say. WIRED and have fearlessly agreed, stating it can’t be done. So there, nerds, says WIRED.
The tempests in the theoretical teacup came in various forms:
1. We have the absolutely inexcusable WIRED’s “Sorry Nerds, Terraforming Might Not Work On Mars”, for example. (Nerds? Who the hell does WIRED think it’s writing to, the other illiterates in the sports bar?) You patronizing idiots. You might want to find out who reads your site, too.
Note: The word “nerd” was first used in a 1950s movie. It’s since been used by the morons in every movie and TV show ever made to describe people with IQs containing whole numbers. Sufficient etymological pedigree for someone to grow a vocabulary before pretending to be a bloody tech site, do you think, kiddies?
2. Then we have’s stunningly disingenuous “Can We Terraform Mars to Make It Earth-Like? Not Anytime Soon, Study Suggests”. What a stroll in uselessly indirect verbosity that title is, and note the built-in negativity, such a help to humanity these last few millennia.
The net result of this mediocre, visionless reporting of somebody else’s work is to simply cite authors Bruce Jakosky, (NASA) and Christopher Edwards (Northern Arizona University) who have looked at current terraforming proposals and said it’s not doable with current technologies. That’s news? Not really.
Their study is also apparently predicated on using existing geological and related resources on Mars, not introducing materials from Earth or any other possible variant, of which there are many different theories, workable and purely speculative.
The authors simply say that to terraform Mars, it would be necessary to create a much thicker atmosphere and free water to support life on the planet. According to the study, there’s not enough recoverable CO2 on Mars, to start with, and water on a planetary scale means trillions of gigalitres, also not available. Existing technologies, as the report states, don’t have the capacity or the technical grunt to achieve either of these basic requirements.
Now, unlike Wired and, consider an issue or several:
1. To retain an atmosphere and water, Mars would have to have a much stronger magnetic field, which is why it lost its atmosphere in the first place. Any attempt to add CO2 and water and life to Mars requires this, Martian water or no Martian water. The technology doesn’t exist to do that either, even if the basic theory of turning the planet in to a big electromagnet is simple enough.
2. Mars is subject to severe radiation from the Sun, another major issue. An electromagnetic field is required to shield the planet, or life would simply frazzle. This is also not possible with existing technology.
3. The sheer scale of materials required to import enough CO2, water, and terraforming technologies from Earth to deliver the basics for a living ecosystem on Mars is another factor. You can’t do it with these damn firecracker rockets, with their pitiful 5-10% payload, to start with. You need much more efficient space drives, also not “existing technology”, although many have been designed and built over the years. Again, existing technology simply can’t do it. (NASA’s own emerging new tech, and Chinese EM drive, however, could be game changers.)
... And now, imagine that terraforming an entire bloody planet might be a bit more complex than gargling a study or two. Pretty damn difficult, eh?
"Existing technology?" You're kidding, or you should be.
The flaw in this retrograde, regressive argument, if you can call a dull, insulting recital of the obvious an argument, is the expression “existing technology”. Existing technology, by definition, is a dinosaur.
How can these two highly respected websites take themselves seriously? Their own entire existence is based on NEW science and NEW technologies. Did someone have a long lunch, or something? There was no balance, no mention of other approaches, just a bland, dull, and spectacularly uninspiring series of quotes of two "nerds" doing a study which didn't even pretend to address all the scenarios in terraforming Mars.
Journalism, you say? Do you believe it? Would have been better to call it "Back to the drawing board for Mars terraforming", and simply define the issues. As for insulting your own readers.... Need a map of what's wrong with that?
These websites live on a planet where new tech is invented every second, and somehow assume nothing will ever happen to change existing technology? Why is “existing technology” even a working theoretical basis for assessing a totally new task? Why would anyone even consider using existing technology to do a job which is totally different from any previous type of terraforming on Earth?
Just one more thing – NOTHING has ever been achieved by accepting “can’t” as the working theory for doing anything. Science has spent the last 5000 years doing things that “can’t be done with existing technology” by inventing new technologies. The Earth is also not flat, the sun doesn’t orbit around it, North America and China really do exist, and life needs something better than “can’t” to exist. Try that as an editorial perspective, and see what happens. You might even be worth reading.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Wired, spacecom, mars terraforming, Bruce Jakosky, christopher edwards
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