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Respect for the World: Universal Ethics and the Morality of Terraforming

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1 Introduction For a number of years, I have been reading and thinking about the subject of terraforming – massively re-engineering an entire planet, such as Mars, to make it more earth-like. Terraforming can be defined as “a process of planetary engineering, specifically directed at enhancing the capacity of an extraterrestrial planetary environment to support life. The ultimate in terraforming would be to create an uncontained planetary biosphere emulating all the functions of the biosphere of the Earth – one that would be fully habitable for human beings” (Fogg, 1995, pp. 89-90). The subject has formed either the central theme or the background to science- fiction stories with extra-terrestrial settings since at least 1930, with the publication of Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men (Fogg, 1995, p. 13). The word “terraforming” itself was coined by Jack Williamson, writing as Will Stewart, in his 1942 novelette Collision Orbit (Fogg, 1995, p. 16). Other science fiction works 1 dealing with terraforming include Farmer in the Sky (Robert Heinlein, 1950) which is set within the framework of efforts to terraform the Jovian satellite Ganymede, the “trilogy” Red Mars, Blue Mars, and Green Mars (Kim Stanley Robinson, 2001a, 2001b, 2001c), and the work Genesis: An Epic Poem by Frederick Turner (1988), both Robinson’s and Turner’s works being descriptive of the terraforming of Mars. In recent years, the idea has also received attention in the scientific and engineering literature 2 , including Sagan (1973), McKay (1982), Fogg (1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995), and McKay, Toon & Kasting (1991). Terraforming is eco-engineering on a massive, planetary scale. One starts with a dead, cold, dry planet which lacks an atmosphere (such as Mars) and takes measures to produce and retain a breathable atmosphere, to produce liquid water, and to raise the ambient temperature to a level suitable for human beings. Plants, animals and human beings will all be able to grow and survive there and eventually the planet can become self-sufficient and fully colonized by human beings. The question arises as to whether terraforming projects would be ethical. The question comes into particularly sharp focus in relation to the planet Mars, where it is proposed to melt the polar caps and the permafrost to produce liquid surface water, in the 1 Fogg (2003) non-exhaustively lists works of fiction dealing with terraforming and includes another 8 works additional to those cited above. 2 Fogg (2003) lists non-fictional works dealing with terraforming and identifies 9 books, 113 technical papers and 36 articles.

Anteprima della Tesi di Paul Francis York

Anteprima della tesi: Respect for the World: Universal Ethics and the Morality of Terraforming, Pagina 1

International thesis/dissertation

Autore: Paul Francis York Contatta »

Composta da 209 pagine.


Questa tesi ha raggiunto 425 click dal 24/07/2006.


Consultata integralmente 2 volte.

Disponibile in PDF, la consultazione è esclusivamente in formato digitale.