Humans and Terraforming
If there is one thing that can be said, humans are very good at changing their environment. Now regardless of your views on climate change or greenhouse gases, it cannot be denied that humans have left a big and very literally mark on our planet.
We’ve been doing it ever since our primeval ancestors figured out that fire can be used to clear forest, and that the grasslands created by such burning attracts grazing animals and gives us a clear line of sight for our throwing spears and nets. We have been doing it ever since the ancient humans figured out they could damn creeks to make ponds that lured in waterfowl. That if you repeatedly burned a clearing, the berry bushes would keep coming back ever year. That if you created stone walls along the low tide line, you could create sandy terraces that are perfect for clams. We managed our resources, only fishing at certain times, only hunting certain types of animals, or only cutting certain types of trees.
Then we invented agriculture and we wrought even more changes on the planet. We cleared forests to make room for our fields, pastures and cities. We terraced entire hillsides to allow us to grow crops. We drained swamps and cut the landscape with irrigation canals to provide our crops with water. Often we changed the very course of rivers and altered the soil we relied on, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. Forests disappeared as our cities and emerging states needed timber for construction, ship-building, and fuel to make pottery, smelt metals, cook our food, and keep us warm.
But we didn’t just change the landscape, we also changed the plants we grew so that they suited our needs. We changed the animals we relied on. We turned wolves into dogs, auroch into cows, ibex into goats, jungle fowl into chickens, and wild boars into pigs. We called this process domestication, and soon quickly forgot that we had ever been without these domesticates.
We made artificial hills for our rituals, built mountains out of cut stone to mark the tombs of revered rulers, carved symbols into the landscape. Sliced into mountains to carve roads, mine metal ores, and quarry stone. We made monuments so astounding that people thousands of years later thought they must have been made by the gods, and buildings of the modern age that dwarf them.
We’ve also traveled. We’ve crossed all our oceans, bringing with us the animals and plants of our homelands, and returning home with the animals and plants of other lands. Some is intentional. New crops that offer new advantages. Animals from far away to awe visitors or remind us of home. Some is unintentional. Plant seeds lodged in the tread of our boots. Insect larva in the bilge of our ships. Rats that scurry and stay out of sight, and hitch a ride on our sailing ships and outrigger canoes. Some we regret bringing, intentionally or not, others have settled in and carved their own place in their new home.
And now we look to the stars and wonder if we could do the same to other planets. To bring our life and our world to the stars. To turn a red planet green and blue.
And what if we succeeded? What if a red planet turned green, and flushed with our success, we turned to other balls of rock orbiting distant stars.
And what if we encountered other life. Life that was like us, but also very different. What if they had never seen life like ours before, that spread to the stars turning red, grey, and brown planets blue and green.
What if some are fearful. What if they seen our domesticated animals, our sculpted landscapes, and our diverse nations and fear that we will assimilate and change them and their world like we did to our ancient animal enemies and our distant home planet.
But what is some our awed, and look at us and see a species that can not only adapt itself to new and challenges and environments, but that also changes the challenge and environment itself. Often changing and adapting to the changes they themselves wrought. For better and worse, humanity sailed the stars on the crest of a wave of change that they themselves have been creating since their distant ancestors set fire to the underbrush and realized they could use this.