Monday, 3 February 2014


First of all, there's this:

This is Venus as she would look were she to be terraformed, although of course that would be a tall order and this assumes that for some reason there'd be a massive ice cap or two, which seems a bit silly.

What's this about then?  OK.

Terraforming has long struck me as a form of cosmic vandalism.  You take a perfectly nice, balanced planet with vapourised sulphuric acid cascading down from the skies, an atmosphere which could be used to clean toilets, a surface like the bottom of the Marianas Trench and you make it into a little mimsy garden planet you can grow hyacinths on.  Not at all sure about that.  It seems a bit like spraypainting an ad onto Mount Everest.  Then again, there are a couple of places in this solar system which seem a bit unoccupied and vaguely suitable for people and the rest of our biosphere to live on.  It does seem like a disrespectful and self-centred thing to do to a scary planet like Venus.  The other one's Mars, of course.

Without going into too much detail, suppose it is possible though.  Suppose also that life on this planet really is doomed, that unless something dramatic is done, not only we but everything else here is going to be pushing up the daisies in short order, and out there, there's the solution of kicking nine types of hell out of a neighbouring planet, which let's face it is probably lifeless, until it will support our kind of life.  It's a life or death situation, and to support the only life, so far as anyone knows, which exists in the entire Universe.  Would it not then be time to take up the cudgels, screw up one's courage and just do it?  I mean, you would, wouldn't you?  The choice is between a solar system with one planet supporting life and one with none which, for all we know, is in an entirely lifeless Universe.  Those are the stakes.  I really think, given that, you really would go for it and terraform Venus.  In particular considering that it may well have started off as an Earth-like planet which could bear life before everything went pear-shaped, the oceans boiled into space and the rocks released greenhouse gases which made damn' well sure there would be no tomorrow for anything that might have lived on that world.

Who wouldn't?

Incidentally, as I'm sure you're aware, all human embryos start out physically female.