What Mars says about the Earth

Mars has much to teach us about running a planet.  What a lovely home we have--with its deep blue sky, sparkling sun, mostly clear air, and clean green landscapes!

In contrast, the dust of Mars is everywhere--turning the sky red, casting the landscape into a reddish gloom.  Dust would fill your vehicle, your spacesuit, and your habitat.  We could live there, but we'd have to manufacture every last resource--even the air to breathe.

Dust to the horizon on Mars.  NASA.

When the wind blows on Mars, dust stays aloft for a long time.  But on Earth, rain  forms around each particle of dust, flushing it down to the surface again.  There, dust on land is trapped by roots and leaves.  In the water, it's trapped by wetland plants.  It soon becomes soil and mud, fertile habitat for more life.

Fallout: Urban dust on Lake Mendota

On Earth--so many services are provided nearly for free--the air, water, comfortable temperatures, building materials, and some of our food.  The ozone and the magnetic field shield us from harmful radiation.  Most of these services--even entertainment--are provided by other organisms.

Yet we are slowly destroying the systems and creatures that provide these services.

Mindless of how the planet cleans house, we strip the land of vegetation, erode the soil, spread dirt via tires from construction sites, and send the dust back into the air--where it turns the sky brown, and our lungs black.

Krupp construction site in Madison, WI

Earth is becoming more and more like Mars, because we're abusing our garden.

Some scientists talk about "terraforming" Mars--using global engineering to turn it into a warmer, wetter, and more habitable planet over some hundreds of years. I'd rather keep Earth habitable, than do it to Mars.

Forecast on Mars: Mostly hazy and cold. NASA

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