Terraforming is the (so far only suggested) process of changing a planet, usually to make it more habitable for humans or other Earth life. A very common example is Mars, which is known to harbour water ice and believed to have previously been warm enough to have liquid water. Normally, plans for terraforming try to adjust temperatures to be compatible with liquid water, and an atmosphere containing significant amounts of oxygen but little carbon dioxide. The word Terra is the Latin name for Earth, so terraforming would be "Earth Forming".
In this comic Cueball is suggesting doing the opposite: change Earth to be more like Mars, i.e. extremely dry, cold, and with a very thin atmosphere, approximately 1/160 of Earth's surface pressure. In addition, Mars has no magnetic core, so it is possible that Cueball wants to remove the magnetic field from Earth. The comic title combines Mars with Forming (with a linking "i") to create the new word Marsiforming. He is having trouble getting the enthusiastic response to his proposal that he expects.
The title text provides examples of how this could improve things: preserving Martian life (a proposed reason to terraform Mars would be to provide a second planet to preserve Earth life at the cost of destroying any potential [undiscovered] Martian organisms, so by marsiforming Earth, we would provide a second planet to preserve Martian life, if there is any life on Mars), needing fewer interplanetary launches (no need to leave this planet's atmosphere in order to visit itself, and Martians who might otherwise need to return to their home planet could instead settle on Earth), and making it easier to field-test Mars rovers (field-test means to test in the environment of actual use, which would readily be available on Earth). While the second and third items would indeed be advantages, and the first would be as well if Mars has developed life, they are severely outweighed by the fact that most life on Earth, including humans, would die.
Unstated in the comic are the extreme costs such a proposal would incur, which would surely be grounds for rejection. Between the thin atmosphere, harsh solar radiation, and other changes, Earth would become uninhabitable for most life currently on Earth, most notably humans. Almost all humans value the continued existence of the human race far more than Martian exploration (if nothing else, it is for the benefit of humans that Mars is being explored, so exterminating the human race would render the benefits moot).
There are known extremophile species that would survive underground on Mars. If similar life is hiding on Mars, marsiforming the Earth would benefit their possible eventual interplanetary efforts. There is an existing project to begin experimental terraforming on Mars by nurturing some of our extremophile species on it.
- [Cueball is on a stage giving a presentation, with a diagram behind him. The diagram shows Earth and Mars side-by-side, along with some writing below the two.]
- Cueball: Earth and Mars may look different now, but with some orbiting mirrors and atmospheric adjustments, we could change that.
- [Caption below the panel:]
- I'm having trouble selling people on my proposal to terraform Earth to resemble Mars.
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Honestly, if we find absolute proof that there is no life on Mars, can we make life on Mars? I propose crashing a probe full of extremophile bacteria into polar water ice regions, then burying the probe and opening it underground. Wait for a few years, then check the site. If you have thriving bacteria there then BAM life on Mars.
Of course, we could get in trouble with the Planetary Protection Officer... 126.96.36.199 17:53, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
As it is we are quickly terraforming it to Venus...
- Venusuforming -boB (talk) 16:30, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
- Meh, at worst we are terraforming Earth to Cretaceous levels, and that means we can all start riding dinosaurs. Mathmannix (talk) 17:26, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
- Don't worry, we've been studying how to turn Venus into Earth since 1961 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terraforming#History_of_scholarly_study . Once our oceans finish boiling away, we'll know exactly what to do. 188.8.131.52 17:56, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
- It seems the most conservative estimates for global warming arr about 2 deg C per 100 years, so our ice should boil before 5,000 years pass. 184.108.40.206 19:24, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
Surely the term should be Martiforming or Areforming? (User:richardelguru)
- Earth / Earthling / Terra / Terran / Terraforming ... Mars / Martian / Marsiforming perhaps? Stop Earthiforming all those lovely desolate space rocks! I'm trying to build a new species that thrives off of harsh interstellar environments and you're destroying its ecosystem! 220.127.116.11 17:56, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
- Martiforming or aremorphosis if you don't want to mix up your Greek and Latin morphemes. Similarly, mercuriforming/hermemorphosis for Mercury, veneriforming/aphroditimorphosis for Venus, gaiamorphosis for Earth (which sounds way more better than terraforming), joviforming/zeumorphosis for Jupiter, saturniforming/cronomorphosis for Saturn, uraniforming/ouranomorphosis for Uranus, neptuniforming/poseidonomorphosis for Neptune, and plutoniforming/hademorphosis for Pluto, because I'm nostalgic for 2006 when it was a planet.18.104.22.168 17:39, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
What's the deal with the orbiting mirrors? I'm not sure exactly what that would do. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 18:01, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
- This was proposed for Mars terraforming, to increase the temperature of the planet and melt the CO2 glaciers. On Earth, they would be to reflect light without absorbing it, so that the temperature of the planet drops, I suppose. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terraforming_of_Mars#Use_of_orbital_mirrors 22.214.171.124 18:52, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
- Ok, thanks. That makes sense. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 19:14, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
- Space mirrors were also proposed for Venus terraforming to alter the day-night cycle to be more similar to ours. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terraforming_of_Venus#Space_mirrors 126.96.36.199 19:17, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
To really change Earth to be either like Venus or Mars we need to get rid of the magnetic field that stops the solar wind stripping the atmosphere away. Once that is depleted the oceans will evaporate so that the solar wind can strip that away as well. Whether Earth then freezes or boils would depend on surface rocks and volcanic activity levels. One option to stop the magnetosphere would be to de-orbit the Moon, thus re-amalgamating it with the Earth and getting lots of vulcanism going. RIIW - Ponder it (talk) 20:12, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
- That would make the Earth more like Mars, but not at all like Venus. Venus has a rather thick atmosphere. 188.8.131.52 13:48, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
- The thick atmosphere of Venus is made up of volcanic emissions - it rains concentrated Sulphuric Acid - and the Moon doing a massive trench around the equator would do much to help better get going, even if the magnetic field didn't collapse.RIIW - Ponder it (talk) 19:44, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
He should try his idea with ISIS. I would expect they would agree with the plan immediately. -- Hkmaly (talk) 00:21, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
The exact word for the "additonal i" in "marsiforming" is epenthetic. --184.108.40.206 01:55, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
It's a shame this strip wasn't accompanied with a "What If" entry about what it would actually take to make Earth resemble Mars. 220.127.116.11 15:56, 12 January 2019 (UTC)