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Guest Thinkers

How to Wreck a Planet

“We think of terraforming as something we’ll do in the future to other planets, but we have thousands of years of experience changing the shape of our own planet in profound ways.”

“Humans have been shaping and changing the Earth for thousands of years, sometimes for the better. All too often, though, our terraforming methods have been destructive—sometimes so destructive that they seem like the opposite of terraforming. Mountain top removal mining, for instance, blows the top off of a mountain and fills a nearby valley with the polluted debris. The resulting blasted landscape looks more like we’re turning Earth into Mars than the other way around. Maybe we should call it deterraforming. … There’s only one sure thing about terraforming: when you change a planet, there will be consequences, and not always the consequences you expect.”


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