Mars Landing

Does Mars Have Rights?

An ethical case for terraforming the Red Planet


Does Mars have rights? And what about Europa, Ganymede, and Titan for that matter? The first question was asked in a 1990 essay by NASA astrobiologist Christopher McKay. The other celestial bodies mentioned are moons of Jupiter and Saturn that some researchers believe could harbor extraterrestrial life.

The 1967 Outer Space Treaty requires spacefaring nations to conduct exploration of the Moon and other celestial bodies "so as to avoid their harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the Earth resulting from the introduction of extraterrestrial matter and where necessary, shall adopt appropriate measures for this purpose." Overseeing this requirement for planetary protection of not only the Earth, but also other planets, moons, asteroids, and comets, is the international Committee on Space Exploration (COSPAR) headquartered in Paris and NASA's Planetary Protection Office. The goal of the treaty is to prevent back contamination—that is the introduction of extraterrestrial life to Earth—and forward contamination—the introduction of Earth life to extraterrestrial environments. 

Concerning back contamination, the 1969 Apollo 11 moon mission crew and their haul of moon rocks were immediately isolated after splashdown in a Mobile Quarantine Facility on board the aircraft carrier that picked them up and were then transported to the Lunar Receiving Lab in Houston where they were quarantined for two weeks. Ultimately, the Apollo moon missions brought back about 400 kilograms of moon rocks and years of testing found no indication of life in them.

With regard to forward contamination of other parts of the solar system with terrestrial life, the two Viking landers sent by the U.S. to Mars in the mid-1970s were extensively cleaned and sterilized. The Viking landers conducted experiments trying to determine if there was life on the Martian surface. The tests produced results that were initially interpreted as negative. One of the main goals of sterilization is to prevent the experiments from mistaking hitchhiking Earth life for Martian life. The other chief goal is to protect the Red Planet from being infected by Earth microbes. The Mars landers launched by the Soviets in the 1970s all essentially crashed. What effective planetary protection measures the Soviets took to prevent the introduction of Earth life are not known.

The only sample return missions other than to the moon were the Genesis mission which sampled the solar wind (and crashed landed in Utah), the Stardust mission which collected samples from the tail of Comet Wild 2 in 2006, and the Japanese probe Hayabusa which sampled the Itokawa asteroid in 2010. None of the missions found anything that could be called alive. The next sample return mission, the Russian Phobos-Grunt robotic lander, will launch tomorrow with the goal of landing on Mars' moon Phobos to scoop up and return a sample of its soil.

The reason for avoiding back contamination is pretty clear; we want to avoid an Andromeda Strain scenario in which an unleashed alien life form harms Earth life including people. But what is the rationale for preventing forward contamination? As already mentioned, one chief reason is to prevent inadvertent contamination by Earth microbes from being mistaken as evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial life. But do we have an ethical obligation to prevent harm that might be caused by Terran life to extraterrestrial life? Even more broadly, do we have the right to change the environments of other worlds even if they do not contain any living organisms?

While still in the early stages of space exploration, it makes sense to try to prevent the inadvertent introduction of terrestrial life to other worlds while researchers pursue their search for extraterrestrial life. But others argue that sometime later in this century, humanity should begin the process of terraforming other worlds, most probably beginning with Mars. British planetary scientist Martyn Fogg provides a good definition of terraforming 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."

Mars as it is is not a promising home for Earth life; its average temperature is -60°C, well below Earth's average of 15°C; the pressure of its carbon dioxide atmosphere is one-hundredth that of Earth's; and it lacks an ozone layer so its surface is blasted by DNA destroying UV rays from the sun. Can it be made more hospitable? Science fiction author Jack Williamson coined the word terraforming in a 1942 short story in Astounding Science Fiction. Arthur C. Clarke further developed the idea of terraforming in his 1951 novel The Sands of Mars. In 1973, young astronomer Carl Sagan devised a proposal for melting Mars' South Pole by darkening it. This would boost carbon dioxide in its atmosphere, creating a greenhouse effect, which would warm the planet and allow water to flow.

In a research review in 1998, Martyn Fogg evaluated various suggested technical means to begin terraforming Mars. A runaway greenhouse effect releasing carbon dioxide might be jumpstarted by pumping potent man-made greenhouse gases like perfluorocarbons into the atmosphere or by directing extra sunlight onto the South Pole using a space mirror 250 kilometers in diameter. Once started, Fogg estimates it would take 100 years to build up a thick atmosphere and warm the planet enough so that anaerobic Earth life could successfully colonize the planet. Candidates for pioneering terrestrial microbes include the dessication-resistant cyanobacterium Chroococcidiopsis, the lime-boring cyanobacterium Matteia, and the ionizing-radiation resistant heterotrophic bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans. In addition, the Planetary Society is flying 10 hardy organisms as part of its Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment (LIFE) aboard the Phobos-Grunt mission. They will be returned with soil from Phobos to see how they fare in long exposure to space.

Another later step that might be taken is to genetically engineer earth plants so that they could survive in a low-oxygen environment and begin to pump oxygen into the atmosphere. It might take 10,000 to 100,000 years for the terraformed Martian atmosphere to contain enough oxygen for people to breathe unassisted.

It may be technically possible to transform Mars so that it is more hospitable to terrestrial life, but some ethicists argue that it would be wrong to do so. Do we have a moral obligation to leave Mars and other worlds alone?

Yes, argues Australian philosopher, Robert Sparrow in a 1999 article, "The Ethics of Terraforming [PDF]," in Environmental Ethics. An effort to terraform Mars, asserts Sparrow, "demonstrates two serious defects of moral character: an aesthetic insensitivity and the sin of hubris. Trying to change whole planets to suit our ends is arrogant vandalism." Developing what he calls an agent-based virtue ethics, Sparrow argues that what makes actions right or wrong is the character of the moral agent. Terraforming Mars indicates an ethically significant aesthetic insensitivity in the same way that a hiker wantonly whacks a transient but beautiful set of icicles on a wintry day that only she will see. "What is significant is the blindness the hiker has displayed to beauty even though no one else may suffer from its loss," he writes. The blindness is a vice. Similarly greening up with genetically engineered redwoods the Valles Marineris, the largest canyon in the solar system, would indicate that we do not properly appreciate its present desolate beauty.

The second moral defect demonstrated by terraforming is hubris, which "occurs when humans willfully ignore their limits and seek to become like gods." We should stay in our proper place, asserts Sparrow. "A proper place is one which one can flourish without too much of a struggle," he argues. In his terms our proper place is Earth and before daring to terraform Mars "we must show that we are capable of looking after our current home before we could claim to have any place on another."

Sparrow acknowledges that he does not offer an objective account of beauty, so it still resides in the eye of the beholder, as does desolate ugliness. As awesome as the view down Valle Marineris might be now, it would arguably be even more so with vistas teeming with life. To use Sparrow's metaphor, instead of icicles, one could see and appreciate a waterfall that has replaced them. With regard to the hubris of terraforming, one initial response should be a hearty so what? On the other hand, efforts at terraforming could help humanity toward moral improvement by increasing our understanding of just how precious terrestrial life is and aid us in managing it toward greater integrity, stability, and beauty.

Mars may not be lifeless. Some researchers believe that Martian life may have retreated to warm underground refugia as the planet's oceans dried up and froze hundreds of millions of years ago. Do we have any moral obligations toward Martian microbes, should they exist?

"If life is present on another world, the introduction of terrestrial life forms could lead to an ecological holocaust, a moral and aesthetic tragedy, as well as an immense loss to science," argued University of Oregon sociologist Richard York in a 2005 article, "Toward a Martian Land Ethic [PDF]," in Human Ecology Review. York is extending environmentalist Aldo Leopold's notion of a land ethic developed in his seminal 1949 A Sand County Almanac. Leopold argues that aesthetic and moral concerns must also be considered along with economic ones when it comes to figuring out what is the right thing to do with any piece of land and its community of living things. "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, the stability, and beauty of the biotic community," wrote Leopold. "It is wrong when it tends otherwise." But does that terrestrial land ethic apply to alien topographies and biota?

Martian life might be a "second genesis," that is, it arose independently of Earth life, or it might be the result of transpermia in which organisms were spread via meteors between planets where they took up residence. Perhaps life originated on Mars and eventually reached Earth where it thrived. In the transpermia case, what we could learn from Martian life would likely be more limited since it would be similar to terrestrial life.

Astrobiologist Christopher McKay argues [PDF] that if Martian life is a second genesis, then "its enormous potential for practical benefit to humans in terms of knowledge should motivate us to preserve it and to enhance conditions for its growth." Its utilitarian value might "exceed the opportunity cost of not establishing human settlements on Mars." In fact, McKay suggests that we might even try to restore the Martian environment to an earlier state under which indigenous organisms evolved so that they could better flourish. However, finding a second genesis so close to Earth would also suggest that the emergence of life is a relatively common occurrence in the cosmos, reducing the moral force of arguments for preserving Martian microbes. Preserving samples of Martian life for later study and use would be prudent before embarking on terraformation.

Dead planets and moons are not intrinsically valuable. And as fascinating as they might be, Martian microbes are no more moral agents than are terrestrial microbes. They simply do not have an ethical point of view that we must consider. On that account, there is no good moral reason why humans should limit the expansion of terrestrial life, including themselves, throughout the solar system.

Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent. His book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution is available from Prometheus Books.

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  1. If Mars lacks life, I see no problem whatsoever in terraforming it. Even if it has simple life, I don’t see that as a bar. Might become a little more of a sticky issue if more complex life existed (possibly under the surface).

    From the scientific perspective, I wouldn’t want to terraform it right away, without checking things out for a good while. To study it in its present form, to identify and investigate any indigenous life, etc. In the end, though, “pristine and dead” aren’t something I think we have to preserve. There’s plenty of nothing in the universe already.

    1. There’s plenty of nothing in the universe already.

      Amen. One Utah is plenty.

      1. Exactly.

        We could throw a dome over some portion of Mars and artificially preserve the original Martian conditions. We could call it “Mars World.”

        1. $20 a ticket! No flash photography permitted.

          1. No, it might endanger the indigenous life. Well, actually, we made that up. It’s actually just a garden-variety lichen we dyed purple.

            1. Also if they had pictures they wouldn’t have to come back to see it again.

              1. We’ll ship Martian Life (i.e., the purple-dyed Earth lichen) to people on Earth for some outrageous price (plus outrageous shipping and handling).

                To make it more exciting, we’ll ship it in sealed containers that are not to be opened under any circumstances due to concerns about Terran life being exterminated by Martian fungi. The containers will be made so as to easily crack.

                1. and then we sell anti-martian fungal bacteria vaccines.

                  I raise my monocle to you

                2. Sell it as a delicacy! It can’t taste worse than caviar.

        2. A portion like the caldera of Olympus Mons?

          Hard to believe we have not even landed me on Mars and we are already engaged in a “Red Mars vs Green Mars” argument.

          1. Hard to believe what crap that series turned into.

    2. I think that any thing less than sentient life full steam ahead.

      1. What makes you so sure you are sentient?

        1. Cogito ergo sum.

    3. It will probably be a couple weeks before the idiots on this planet are ready to do any terraforming.
      And If the Martians brains are that large in relation to their bodies….they’ll kick our ass and not even know it.

      1. Martian thought is so glacial that by the time they decide to do away with us, we will have surpassed their ability to do anything about.

    4. “There’s plenty of nothing in the universe already.”
      Yes, there is, and large amounts of it are located in the heads of Robert Sparrow and Richard York.

  2. the intrinsic moral worth of celestial bodies

    What does this even mean?

    1. Not a damn thing.

    2. Intrinsic. Moral. Worth. These are all good things. Personification, alliteration, onomatopoei (sp?) are good too.

      1. Onomatopoeia. I think it might be the only standard english word with four successive vowels in it.

        1. Queue Sera Sera.

          1. Crap. Any more?

              1. THPPPPPTT! ACK!

          2. Onomatopoeia has four different vowels in a row.

            1. Yeah, that’s what I meant.

            2. So? Take your PC multi-vowelism elsewhere.

              1. Nice–I laughed.

          3. It’s just ‘Que’, as in “Que sera, sera!’ What will be, will be. It’s not a queue, as in standing line.

          4. That should be que sera, sera. Minus the accents of course. And he did specify english, not spanish. Just sayin’.

            1. Know, I rote what I meant two right.

            2. Jesus you guys are tone deaf. He was making a joke. Granted, it wasn’t hilarious, but it was pretty obvious.

          5. Umm not english

        2. queue?

          1. Get in line.

    3. He purchased mining rights in all of the asteroids from the UN?

      1. Nope, he purchased them from all those dudes I hook up with at truck stops and bath houses.

        1. Cowardly spoofer troll is cowardly and spoofy. How…unsurprising.

          1. Anarchist has nothing to say in the earlier thread about the abject fucking failure of spontaneous order and anarchy at the OWS site. How…unsurprising.

            1. Unlike you, I have things to do. But hey, you keep waiting for a response from me. I’m sure that my first priority is to converse with a stalker griefer troll with no life.

              1. And yet here I’ve gotten two responses from you already. Christ you’re easy.

                1. Responses aren’t conversation…well, for you they are, but not for the rest of us who have lives and don’t live in front of a computer with a Rockstar Mango wearing adult diapers like you do.

                  I respond to a lot of things, including many things as stupid as you. It’s called mockery.

                  But that’s all a bit above your head. But you keep on thinking that I respond to you against my will or something; you’re making the puppets dance, right, rectal? Is that what you’re doing?


                  1. Paging sevo! I have been fed and require to deposit my vermin shit.

                    Paging sevo!

                    1. I am happy to relinquish my 1-day Episiarch spoof to someone with much more time to waste on such an unworthy thing. Not that I am not a little proud of “Episipunk.” C’mon, laugh! You know it’s funny.

                2. “Christ you’re easy”

                  You just gave away who you are:
                  epi’s momma

          2. I thought that your comment sounded a little odd. Bath houses, sure, but truck stops?

            1. Truck stops are beneath me, of course.

              1. I’m insulted on your behalf.

      2. Learn to read Pro Lib. It doesn’t say “ore-al worth”.

        1. His morals may focus more on ore and ore-like substances.

          1. That is more likely. I would like to hear about more about this belief system.

            Also: woo late shift. Rocking the west coast hours and having nothing to do but HnR.

            1. He’s a metal whore.

  3. Trying to change whole planets to suit our ends is arrogant vandalism.

    Right on.

  4. Humans contaminating the Universe assumes some original sin.

    Someday we’ll live on Venus,
    Someday we’ll walk on Mars.
    But will we still be monkeys,
    deep down inside.


    1. I like to think that when we join the galactic federation, we’ll officially be known as “the Monkey Boys from Sol.”

      1. When we join the galactic federation, it will be as monkey butlers and sex slaves.

        That’s if we’re lucky. We may just join it as hors d’oeuvres.

        1. Monkey butler to godlike aliens might not be so bad.

          1. It worked out okay for the Silver Surfer.

            1. There you go. I’m going to try to get a gig with the Guardians. Maybe they’ll give me a power ring so I can fulfill my butler duties.

      2. There is some book whose name I can’t remember with this exact premise. Everyone else is pissed that we had all the dinosaurs killed off.

        1. I remember a Niven short story where some alien who had used time dilation extremely to her favor (I think that’s how she did it) commented on the nice civilization that was here billions of years ago, before the oxygen-generating life destroyed everything.

          1. “The Green Marauder” from The Draco Tavern by Larry Niven.

            1. That’s it–thanks.

        2. Wait, so in that book’s universe the Young Earth whackos were right?

          1. Ambiguously worded. They were pissed that we had had the opportunity afforded to us cause all the dinosaurs died via comet. The aliens would have preferred reptilians instead of us barbaric monkeys.

            1. Because reptiles are so non-barbaric?

              1. I didn’t say the aliens weren’t being classist.

  5. My concern with terraforming on Mars is that Mars has both lower gravity than Earth and no magnetosphere, both of which make it much easier for atmospheric gasses to be stripped from the planet (gravity holds them in and the magnetosphere protects them from the solar wind). This would be a concern because one of the gasses that would be vulnerable to depletion over time in a way that is not the case on Earth is water vapor.

    So, if you engage in a terraforming project where you melt and sublimate the icecap or you release perfluorocarbons of sulfur hexafluoride to ramp up the greenhouse effect, you may make the planet more livable for some time, but you would also have the effect of desiccating the planet in the long run as one of its most valuable resources, water, slowly bleeds into space.

    This is not to say that efforts to make Mars livable should not take place. Rather, I think that they should be approached with caution, as attempts to make Mars livable could backfire by taking a potentially habitable planet into a short stage as a habitable planet followed by a stage as a permanently uninhabitable planet.

    1. We’d best know what we’re doing before we try, I agree.

      About the water, I seem to recall one terraforming idea being to bombard the planet with comets.

      1. I thought we just drank beer, stood on Phobos and Diemos and pissed in Mar’s direction.

        1. Dammit, the Canadians have a better plan than we do! Crap! Can we do nothing right in space anymore?

          Get Elon on the phone right now! We may have a piss gap!

          1. Let them spend the money. We don’t have it anyways.

            1. I dunno. A Canadian Mars might be too chilly for Americans and have crappy food.

              1. That gives me an idea for a sci-fi horror/action movie where aliens come to earth, but instead of Washington DC or New York, they land in Winnipeg.

                It would be sort of like District 9, but with poutine.

                1. We’d never be allowed in polite galactic society again!

                2. Nobody wants to come to Winnipeg. Not even Aliens.

              2. Crappy food? Have you even heard of poutine?

              3. Hey! Gravy AND cheese curds!

          2. How is a plan that doesn’t involve shooting giant chunks of rock at relativistic speeds at a target possibly better than one that does?

            Although the part where we stand on the moons and drink beer while doing it would be a decent tweak to the “shot it with space rocks” approach.

            1. Don’t dismiss their plan so quickly–they have a LOT of beer in Canada.

              1. Dude: Giant rock missiles. In space. It’s like the best snowball fight ever, except sort of like nukes.

        2. I thought we just drank beer, stood on Phobos and Diemos and pissed in Mar’s direction.

          I’m ready to contribute to Mars’ atmosphere by farting in its general direction.

          1. ^ this

    2. You may be overthinking this, dude.

      1. He’s definitely overthinking it. Having things stripped from the atmosphere by the solar wind in significant amounts is a long, slow process (think millions of years). And there is no shortage of water in the solar system.

        1. Go to the Oort and send back thousands of comets. And try not to hit the Earth. I imagine there’s a lot of water floating around Saturn, though I imagine nobody wants the rings messed with.

          1. I’d like to think that in a million years that won’t really be a problem. This all assumes there are no sandtrout on Mars, though.

          2. You know, this always puzzled me about Heinlein’s idea of balancing asteroids large enough to support 20-50 people at Lagrange points. Their meta-stable. All it takes is one bad moon-patrol dude and even Andrew Jackson Libby couldn’t save the Earth from taking a dinosaur killer. Trojan points are far safer places to store large, potentially civilization wrecking rocks.

        2. It is a long, slow process, but given that life has lasted for a few billion years on Earth, a window of a few million years is actually quite short. It makes Mars seem like a temporary outpost that would be cool to have, which is fine except terraforming is a massively expensive process, so we should have a good reason to apportion the resources toward it. I actually think that if a terraforming effort were well-planned to consider factors like this, it would be a good idea to pursue it. However, that may involve keeping part of the system contained so as not to lose the water.

          As for replacing the water, that is a massively expensive enterprise and I think it a bit glib to talk about herding comets from the Oort cloud. While some futurists are very optimistic about our future energy capacity, it is no small feat to take a solar system object billions of miles off course to hit a specified planet, and I really see no reason to pursue a comet-herding strategy as opposed to a much cheaper isolation of Martian water resources from the environment such that a relatively small amount is lost over time.

          I suppose, I should probably clarify that I am not opposed to settlement of Mars, but I have doubts that a fully uncontained ecosystem can be maintained indefinitely.

          1. It’s all moot until we can actually send people there, instead of piddling about in LEO.

          2. While some futurists are very optimistic about our future energy capacity, it is no small feat to take a solar system object billions of miles off course to hit a specified planet,

            Actually, since we’d be pushing the comet down the gravity well, moving it wouldn’t be all that hard. The difficult part will be doing it accurately enough to hit Mars and not completely miss.

            1. That is to say, we’d only need to provide just enough energy to move it onto the correct path. The Sun’s gravity will take over from there. The difficult part will be calculating the path it needs to take.

              1. Any undergrad astronautical engineer can calculate all of the potential paths.

          3. The hard part of space travel is the first 100 miles. Once you’re in orbit the rest is easy. By the time our technology has advanced to the point where we would actually have a use for and the capability to terraform Mars importing water from elsewhere will be a relatively easy endeavor.

            1. As long as you don’t mind waiting a bit it’s cheaper to get ice from the Oort cloud to Mars than it is from Earth to Mars.

        3. Not to mention at some point in the future we may find a way to artifically generate an ozone layer

    3. Having no magnetosphere would present a greater problem than just gas stripping….
      solar wind on the planet’s surface might cause a complication or two.

  6. How do we know Venuslings didn’t contaminate earth before their species died out?

  7. In space, no on can hear you gambol.

    1. LMFAO

  8. Yes, argues Australian philosopher, Robert Sparrow in a 1999 article, “The Ethics of Terraforming [PDF],” in Environmental Ethics. An effort to terraform Mars, asserts Sparrow, “demonstrates two serious defects of moral character: an aesthetic insensitivity and the sin of hubris. Trying to change whole planets to suit our ends is arrogant vandalism.”

    What. An. Idiot.

    If you want dead rocks, dead rocks the universe has got.

    The universe is not going to miss one dead rock one way or the other.

    Let’s say for a second I accepted that the icicles can have aesthetic value even if no one sees them. That has insuperable ontological problems, but let’s play his game.

    How much value would they have if they were lined up right next to a line of identical icicles that was 1000 icicles long? Not very much, right? Breaking 1 pretty icicle wouldn’t mean a whole lot if 999 identical icicles were right next to it.

    Well, the universe is full of fucking dead rocks in every direction for billions and billions of light years.

    We’ve got so many damn icicles that icicles can’t really have irreplaceable aesthetic value. It’s like claiming that a single grain of sand has unique aesthetic value, so no one can ever walk on sand again. Except the “dead rock in space” supply we’ve got makes sand look like fucking emeralds.

    1. If he were referring to asteroids, I’d totally agree.

      But there’s only one Olympus Mons. There’s only one Valles Marinerus. Calling Mars a “dead rock in space” misses as much of the point as calling you “a bunch of carbon and water”

      1. If we terraform the planet those will both still be there.

        1. But not pristine!

          1. Why go there if you can’t get a BigMac at the top?

            1. But how does Sparrow feel about terraforming Uranus? I could not let this thread go by without a Uranus joke.

      2. On the scale of the universe, Olympus Mons and the Valles Marinerus aren’t that important.

        On all the dead rocks out there, I bet there’s a bigger dead volcano and a deeper canyon.

        I bet there are so many tens of trillions of dead volcanoes and deep canyons that they make grains of sand on the beach look rare.

        By the terms of Sparrow’s argument, nothing human that makes Mars special has any meaning. The icicles are beautiful even if no one sees them. That means that the extinct volcano on some planet 100 billion light years from here is just as important as Olympus Mons. But that, ultimately and given the scale of the universe, means that Olympus Mons isn’t important at all.

        1. There’s absolutely no indication that interstellar space flight will ever be feasible for human beings.

      3. Dead rocks are practically infinite. Rocks with life on them are potentially the rarest thing in the universe. We therefore have a moral obligation to increase the number of rocks with life.

    2. skip/ignore the next alpha male comment. ow troll.

    3. aesthetic insensitivity

      You homos that don’t like Kiera Knightly because she is too skinny, suffer from aesthetic insensitivity .

  9. I’m an Progressive.

    And girls want to fuck Progressives, not Losertarians. Let it piss you off as much as you want, but you know it’s completely true.

    That girl you like who is kinda cute in a weird way, but is totally sweet and you have the biggest crush on? The one who keeps going back to faggy-ass emo guys who wear Che shirts and write for the Daily Kos? The one who calls you up at 1 am to cry about how her boyfriend hasn’t called her in 3 days, and because you never listen to her, she’ll never think of you as anything other than asexual? The one who will curl up next to you on the couch, hug you close, kiss you on the cheek, and never let you fucking touch her beyond that?

    Yeah, I’m fucking her.

    The hot girl at work who won’t even look at you when you nod at them and smile? The one who laughs when you trip in the hallway and drop your stuff? The one who comes up and coyly asks for your help with her project, but you pretend she doesn’t exist because you can’t stand helping anyone?

    Yeah, I’m fucking her too, even harder.

    The geeky girl you think might be enough like you that you have a chance with her? She comments on Hit and Run, and watches 70’s kung-fu movies, and reads Ayn Rand? She’s so incredible and you just love her so much but you still clue on how to socially interact with people, so all your signals are lost on her?

    Guess who just sucked me off and told me they’ll always love me?

    And what’s more? I laugh at guys like you. When you cry about how stupid girls are, and wonder why they can’t all be smart and Libertarian and perfect like Pia Varma? I nod and tell you to hang in there, you’ll find someone right for you someday, don’t give up hope man.

    But inside? I’m laughing my ass off at you, you selfish autistic pathetic fuck. Every girl you set your sights on, who isn’t a disgusting pig-monster, I’m going to fuck 6 ways from sunday before you even tell her you think she’s cute. I won’t bother trying when you finally settle for that 350 pound troll-woman who works in I.T., you can have that. Anyone else, I’m going to cum on that face before you get those lips near it.

    And the biggest reason I laugh? It’s not me doing all this. It’s the girls. When you cry about how lonely you are? Or talk about how you’re so much smarter than all the sheeple, and all that free-market bullshit? You’re triggering her “Don’t Fuck” instinct something fierce. She needs to know that when you go out ‘hunting,’ you’ll bring back your ‘kill’ to share with her and your future offspring.

    You’re a selfish weak coward, why would she want your genes? You’ve never advised her on how to buy a new computer or help her decorate her apartment, you’re too selfish and socially inept for that. That’s why her baby-maker is barking orders at her, telling her to wrap her legs around me and hold on for as long as she can. She needs it, on a primal level you’ll never get to see first hand, even if you do get a chance to fuck her. Sooner or later one of them will lay back and spread their legs, but you won’t see any hunger in their eyes. They won’t beg you to love them forever and make them yours. You won’t know what it’s like to see her animal side needing you as much as she needs to eat and breathe.

    And she’s cheating on you, I promise that. When she sits around quiet and uncomfortable, acting irritable and irrational towards you, wanting you to just back away and leave her alone, it’s not her period. It’s because I haven’t called her for a day or two and her instincts are telling her to go find me. The primitive section of her brain doesn’t want to risk smelling like another man when she gives herself to me, she wants me to know she’s completely mine. We do things together she tells you she never would. Her pooper? Mine. I want to give her a facial? Of course. I want her to suck the cum out of my dick, even though I just finished pumping away at her ass? She’s never going to tell me no. She doesn’t WANT to tell me “no”. She wants me to know she’ll do anything it takes to keep me. She’ll rim my ass while she’s down there sucking me off if it means pleasing me. She’ll drink my cum from a shotglass. She’ll wear a buttplug when we go out to dinner. She’ll sleep handcuffed to my headboard. Anything.

    And then she’ll go home to you and tell you she’s not in the mood today.

    I’d say you should kill yourself, but you being around makes her want a real man all the more, so keep on being selfish little nerdy autistic bitches,

    I’ll keep that pussy warm while you’re crying in the corner. That’s the one thing I don’t believe in sharing.

    1. I swear to Galt we’ve seen this shit before. Is some troll running a ‘best of’ while visiting its mom at the brothel?

      1. Yeah, this is some cut and paste job. Boring.

        1. Shit, if a guy like that actually existed, he’d have Gloria Allred nibbling on his ankles by lunchtime.

    2. Brucie? Brucie Kibbutz? Is that you?

    3. Cool story bro.

      1. But is he banging the space babes too?

        1. There is anal probing involved, from what I understand, but stories differ as to who is on the table.

    4. >>I’m an Progressive.
      >>an Progressive.

      Stop right there.

      1. A pity how far Penthouse Forum‘s standards have fallen.

        1. Progressive women are mostly feminists, and are therefore mostly man-haters.

          Progressive men are candyass pussies. Note: Not “mostly”.

    5. This sounds like Zuccotti Park porn!

      1. I think Zuccotti Park porn would me more like this.

    6. So what you’re trying to tell us is… you’re a virgin.

    7. It’s like a longer version of the “Dear Faggots” copypasta from 4chan.

      1. Also note that there is a regular poster here whose writing style is not so different from much of what you’ll find on there.

    8. Is that you, Cory Moloney? Your Alpha Male shtick didn’t fly at The Skeptical Libertarian Society, it sure-as-shit ain’t gonna fly here.

    9. I already gave all of them crabs.

    10. I bet $1000 you’ve got no kids. Have fun dying alone, asswipe.

    11. The funniest part:

      “I’m an Progressive…”

      “She needs to know that when you go out ‘hunting,’ you’ll bring back your ‘kill’ to share with her and your future offspring.”

      As if a fucking progressive can “kill” anything. They are to be too busy blowing each other in their tents after “occupying” the downtown square and “demanding” that the government give them a bunch of stuff that they “deserve” because, well, they are alive and have degrees in hard stuff like drama, or sociology, or women’s studies.

    12. WALL O TXT

    13. Wants to be the center of a sandwich.

    14. Nice cut and paste. You do that all by yourself?

  10. It’ll never happen. I don’t trust “scientists” to “improve” the climate here on Earth. I don’t think they will ever be competent enough to terraform anything.

    1. Scientist: A political activist that also tries to take credit for advances actually developed by engineers, entrepreneurs, and lay inventors.

  11. Terraforming is a bad idea.

    Massive amounts of effort to create a marginally livable habitat at the bottom of a gravity well? What’s the point?

    Building cans in space is a lot easier and more useful. Plus you don’t have to worry about the reds blowing up your space elevator.

    1. Ding! We have a winner. Terraforming Mars is an extremely shortsighted idea. Turning Mars into space colonies is a far better use of its mass.

      Oh yeah, fuck eco weenies.

      1. Well, fuckitty-fuck-fuck. Look who’s back.

        It’s Derider, posting yet more prattle.

        Maybe he fancies himself an Alpha Male.

  12. Terraforming other planets? Gimme a break! We can’t even get a single human to Mars without being cooked by space radiation.

    Maybe “in the future” when we all have jetpacks amd electricity too cheap to meter…

    1. True, but we have successfully sent probes.

      So what we SHOULD do is bioengineer some microbes that can survive on Mars and then send them there in a probe.

      So then we can turn to the “preserve the pristine beauty of dead rocks” Mars Reds types and say, “Oh well, I guess that debate’s over.”

      1. That’s terrorforming!

      2. What we should do is build more space stations so we get really good at it. Then the solar system supports functionally infinity humans.

        1. We could build space stations in orbit around all of the planets we’ve terraformed.

          1. You could do that without terraforming them in the first place. Much easier, cheaper, better.

            1. But I like gravity and wide vistas. And lower gravity golf is my right as a Solarian.

              1. Only golfers are human.

              2. True that. By all indications, humans would not have a long, comfortable life in zero-g.

                Develop artificial gravity, on the other hand, and the Derider has a point.

                1. Spin the habitats.

                  1. Here’s an interesting article about what would go into designing a spinning space station that would provide Earth-like gravity but still be comfortable.

                    1. Space stations are not the answer. Only a fucktard would prefer to live in a can, dependent on outside supplies, and being ever-fearful of hull breaches.

                      Terraform that bitch!

                    2. Seriously,I was thinking the same thing. And what if it turns out that some central government takes over supplying your station by enforcing a monopoly at gunpoint? Would a small station be able to rise up against outside oppressors? I don’t think it’s very likely.

                    3. A bunch of stations would have a far better chance of resisting than a single planet.

                      And it’s just as easy to create a self-sufficient habitat in space as it is to create one on mars. Far easier, I’d argue.

      3. I’m sure viable microbes are clinging to the various probes we’ve already sent there.

        Not sure where I read it (spurious information alert!), but apparently some bacteria in our moon capsules are still viable.

        1. Unlikely. The probes go through a sterilization process before they’re launched, in order to prevent us from contaminating Mars.


      4. Ooh, could they all generate so much oxygen I can breathe it, but our super-advanced space-ship can’t detect it. I’m looking at whoever wrote the Val Kilmer Mars movie here.

  13. No magnetosphere, no terraforming. Talking about it is stupid and a waste of time.

    1. This was addressed above, but I’m not sure that means no terraforming. The atmosphere getting stripped away is a long-term process, possibly taking millions of years. At least thousands.

      Also, it might be possible to artificially establish a magnetosphere.

      1. Magnets are gateway force to letting the likes of Dr. Simon Bar Sinister rule the world.

      2. Or dropping 3 or 4 giant comets reignite plate tectonic, giving rise to a natural magnetosphere. Will have to think about how much kinetic energy could be involved. A million tonnes of ice would have a 62km radius or so. Moving at 10kps a comet that size would deliver about as much kinetic energy as the entire world’s nuclear arsenal. We’d need bigger comets though. Theres something like 10^18 tonnes of water on earth. A million tonnes won’t fill many canyons, much less create seas.

        1. You’d have to carefully calculate how to impact the planet too. You’d probably want to put most of the energy in one direction.

        2. The interior of Mars is stone cold. Dropping some comets on it isn’t going to change that. Even if it did the iron core is probably too small to make the robust magnetosphere that would be needed. The only reason the Earth is habitable is because the core of the planet that collided with it to create the Moon melded with the Earth’s core.

      3. Forget stripping the atmosphere, it’s the unhindered radiation that would kill you.

  14. we must show that we are capable of looking after our current home before we could claim to have any place on another.

    So, he doesn’t think that expanding the amount of usable land might better help us to preserve whatever he wants preserved on Earth?

  15. We need to consider the Bouncers and the Old Ones.

    1. The elders tell of a young ball much like you. He bounced three meters in the air, then he bounced 1.8 meters in the air, then he bounced four meters in the air. Do I make myself clear?

      1. This chair is a real pain in the…uh..lower back region.

  16. This is an excellent subject!

    I say that only those who have adopted a more gentle approach to our own planet should be allowed anywhere near Mars. What would happen if climate deniers like myself were to meddle with nature on the Red Planet? This must never be allowed to occur.

    Instead, I and my fellow deniers will remain here on Earth – where we have certainly condemned ourselves to doom. And those of you who have been so fortunate and concerned to develop that special…whatever it is…that causes you to believe in man-made global warming/cooling/changing should go forth to our outer neighbor and form it yes – terra-form it – in perfect Ridley Scott fashion, into the ecological heaven that it is certainly meant to be.

    The rest of us will stay here on Earth an await our ends.

    This should start at once. Spaceships! You all need spaceships…

    1. Some say nuke the Moon. But me, I’m more ambitious. I say nuke Mars.

        1. We’ll blow it up when the Moon is full, to make sure we get it all.

  17. I’d rather talk about a Dyson relay.

  18. “we must show that we are capable of looking after our current home”
    Somehow, I’d bet he thinks “looking after” means keeping it the way *he* thinks it should be.

  19. Wrong on so many levels. Ethics based on whole-cloth assertion don’t even deserve a fair hearing. We’re not allowed to touch a dead planet because it offends someone’s aesthetic sensibilities? People ridicule Ayn Rand’s villains as one-dimensional, hyperbolic caricatures, but here we have it: it’s wrong to create new habitats for ourselves because some navel-gazing self-important douchebag wants to be able to imagine an untouched, dead universe. Seriously.

    Sparrow argues that what makes actions right or wrong is the character of the moral agent

    Well, there’s the first problem. He’s got it backwards. A common amateur mistake.

    when humans willfully ignore their limits and seek to become like gods

    They’re not really limits if we keep pushing past them then, are they? Catholic church…meet Gallileo.

    1. “”when humans willfully ignore their limits and seek to become like gods”
      They’re not really limits if we keep pushing past them then, are they?”

      I liked that too. If there were something other than a presumed definition of ‘human limits’, there might be something to discuss. As it stands, it’s a classic of begging the question.

    2. Sparrow is the kind of guy whom I’ve met at parties and inspires me to utter things like “I think we should just nuke it and start over.”

      You know, just for shits and giggles

  20. Come back in Alpha, your enema is getting cold.

  21. Alpha, are you using mommy’s username again? Time for the genital cuff!


  22. Stop banging your pots like Alpha bangs emo boys in Che t-shirts or you won’t have any pots left.

  23. Mars is a chunk of rock, like Earth. Rock doesn’t care about my rights, and I don’t care about its rights.

    We Won’t Let America Die

  24. How about Antarctica? Or teh oceanz? Don’t worry about the red dead planet until Antarctica’s population is at least .25*population_australia.

  25. Certainly other planets have no rights. Nevertheless, humanity might have an interest in observing and learning from the natural state of these planets, which would naturally conflict to some extent with the desire to make those planets habitable (to some extent, because any attempt to make the planet habitable will likely be rooted in extensive study of its pre-habitable state).

  26. Screw Titan. Those little blobs are just waiting for a chance to take us over.

  27. “However, finding a second genesis so close to Earth would also suggest that the emergence of life is a relatively common occurrence in the cosmos, reducing the moral force of arguments for preserving Martian microbes.”

    Yeah, that argument’s gonna go over real well with the guys who get in a tizzy because some uncommon species of field mouse is endangered. They’re hoarders; there’s nothing rational about it.

    1. Moreover, you’re an idiot if you draw conclusions about the distribution of life in all solar systems from one already known to have life.

  28. Maybe it would be easier to “marsform” people by developing humans who are capable of surviving on Mars just the way it is now.

      1. I think something like that–humans being adapted to Martian conditions–is quite likely. Though I doubt anyone is signing up for Man Plus style mutilation.

        I like Pohl and think he’s under-appreciated.

      2. I’m still waiting for my Gameron form a la Scalzi’s OMW universe.

    1. Why reinvent the wheel? Evolution is our friend. Just keep shipping people to Mars until some of them survive to breed!

      1. You go first, I’ll be right behind you.

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    1. Shouldn’t that be Mars Jacobs?


    1. Yo, fuck the monolith. It’s full of stars.

  31. Screw Mars. Our highest moral imperative is to spread humanity as far and as fast as we can.

    1. Screw Mars. Our highest moral imperative is to spread humanity as far and as fast as we can.

      And, of course, by Mars you mean “Jennifer Mars” and by “spreading humanity as far and fast as we can,” you mean “the money shot”.

      1. yes

  32. The quickest way to populate the universe with humans is to combine our DNA code with “how to brew from scratch” instructions and a care and feeding manual and beam the information in all directions. There may be alien civilizations with the technological ability to follow the instructions. But not the smarts not too.

  33. Here’s the only answer we need for this question:

    If there is no intelligent life on Mars, then it is not owned by anyone. Terraform away.

    Seriously… does *everything* have to be complicated?

    1. I’m claiming ownership of Mars. Tresspassers will be shot on sight.

  34. “Earth First! Make Mars our bitch!”
    Dale Gribble
    King of the Hill

  35. Ugly bags of mostly water.

    1. Carbon units

  36. Yes!
    I totally agree with your point of view!

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  38. Interesting article, but what’s with the pic of Herman Cain in the space suit…?

  39. What about the ethics and letting billions of farts float into the atmosphere instead of capturing them in jars? If we all started to capture our CH4 in number 2 glass jars, we could use it to power cars, cook dinner, huff, etc. Think of the endless possibilities. Instead, so many of us just let it go to waste. A shame.

    1. I sell methane and methane accessories.

      1. Great! Keep up the good work.

      2. Only are they Marc Jacobs methane accessories fit in handbag? Double-plus good! Buy many young person!

  40. According to environmentalists swamps on planet Earth have more worth than humans, why not swamps on planet Celestia? I don’t know why you waste space trying to Reason with people like this.

  41. Only academia can educate a man so thoroughly as to produce a man like Robert Sparrow; so full of esoteric ethical ponderings, but so utterly lacking in sense that I wouldn’t trust him to tie my daughter’s shoes.

    1. Is that what happened to Ayn Rand?

  42. If it’s wrong to change Mars because 1) it may be beautiful under a totally subjective definition and 2) beauty has a right to not be destroyed independent of whether anybody actually views it, then couldn’t that literally be used to oppose any change to anything? What if somebody says a ramshackle house is beautiful? Or a tumor? Or a smoldering toxic rubble?

    What am I missing? This can’t be the argument.

  43. “in the same way that a hiker wantonly whacks a transient but beautiful set of icicles on a wintry day that only she will see.”
    Nonsense. The hiker is randomly destroying nature for no purpose.
    A better analogy would be construction. Terra-forming mars with a purpose of improvement would be no different from clearing a site, improving the soil, and constructing a building on it. It’s a bigger scale, but not fundamentally different. We should do it in a careful manner and get all knowledge we practically can before we destroy the possibility of gaining that knowledge, but there is no intrinsic reason to never construct or improve anything.

  44. Terraforming Mars is beyond possible right now but if we could why not.

  45. Excuse me officer,
    Am I free to gambol about this desolate martian wasteland?

    sorry, I had to.

  46. If its not producing energy or thinking its just bending space.

  47. Read Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars/Green Mars/Blue Mars for some good, albeit fictionalized debate on this very subject. There’s a copy at your local library

  48. Read Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars/Green Mars/Blue Mars for some good, albeit fictionalized debate on this very subject. There’s a copy at your local library

  49. “… argues Australian philosopher, Robert Sparrow in a 1999 article, “The Ethics of Terraforming [PDF],” in Environmental Ethics. An effort to terraform Mars, asserts Sparrow, “demonstrates two serious defects of moral character: an aesthetic insensitivity and the sin of hubris. Trying to change whole planets to suit our ends is arrogant vandalism.””

    What utter balderdash! If a planet harbors native life, then yes, we need to tread carefully (as a matter of esthetics and even practicality) — but if it’s a lifeless rock, then terraform and westward-ho!

  50. Mars? meh.
    Let’s get busy harvesting all those tasty hydrocarbons from Titan.

  51. Of all the things we imagine that we know of our future, the most certain is that the sun is going to fizzle out some day.

    When that day comes, what happens to the human race? If we have managed to migrate to another planetary system or two, we might just survive.

    How we might learn to cope with space travel without imosing upon our neighbors escapes me.

  52. Infecting other worlds with life will be one of the crimes for which our future robot overlords will punish the human race with captivity in the matrix.


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