Sunday, May 10, 2009 at 12:54AM
I've just finished reading Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. Set in the not too distant future, Robinson follows the lives of the "first hundred", the scientists, workers, politicos and personalities that form humanity's first attempt at prolonged colonization of Mars. I downloaded the book for free both through Stanza and the iPhone Kindle App, so I can't really complain too much. Red Mars is a pretty easy read, and thanks to Stanza I was able to define any words I wasn't sure of. At times the writing became a little slow paced, but nothing that ever made me give up on the book.
Really fascinating to me (and to you too) is many of the devices and schemes that the humans in the book use to change Mars into Earth's image are being used in the here and now. As I finished Red Mars, I came across this article about Russia planning to build floating nuclear platforms for oil drilling in the arctic. Being self sufficient for 12 to 14 years, these are exactly the mobile, self-contained kind of power plants which would be necessary in transforming Mars from a thin atmosphered rock into a water covered oasis.
The scary part is that while in Red Mars the scientists had to contend with UN oversight on their various terraforming projects, here on Earth there is no such oversight. We've been dumping carbon and nitrogen into the air since the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, it hasn't been until fairly recently in our history that we've come to question the repercussions of our actions. Robinson's book makes terraforming Mars seem like a real possibility, and even though I probably won't be alive to take advantage of the Martian frontier perhaps one of my descendants will be Martian. I just hope there's still an Earth for them to send their snapshots back to.
The day after reading, I saw Mitchell Joachim on Colbert, also a lot of similar technology one would need to terraform Mars.