(ORDO NEWS) — Hundreds of species go extinct every year, and one way to save them is to give endangered plants and animals a new home on the Red Planet. Only there they will be able to avoid pressure from the growing population of the Earth.
The population of the Earth has reached eight billion, and within the next century the figure may exceed 11 billion.
To accommodate so many people will have to sacrifice many areas that are now still a refuge for wild animals and plants, and this will inevitably lead to a colossal extinction of species.
One way to preserve biodiversity is to provide our planetary neighbors with another place to live, perhaps in special reserves on Mars.
Paul Lister Smith from the University of Bristol (UK) proposed to include the construction of such reserves in the concept of a future Martian colony: in addition to being useful for the conservation of terrestrial plant and animal species, they will help maintain the psychological health of the colonists.
Although the idea may seem absurd, it is not without justification. The length of a Martian day ( sol ) is not much different from Earth’s, and there is enough frozen water under the surface of dry Martian land to solve the irrigation problem.
As for low temperatures, insufficient atmospheric pressure and harsh ultraviolet radiation, all these problems are solved with the help of special “greenhouses” that will create a closed terrestrial-type ecosystem.
It is not entirely clear whether the weak magnetic field of Mars, other lunar cycles and the lack of a full-fledged change of seasons will affect terrestrial life forms – unless the designers of the reserves can simulate a change in temperature and daylight hours.
In addition, the Red Planet receives half as much sunlight as the Earth, so the plants on it will grow more slowly, unless, of course, only shade-tolerant species are brought there.
Reserve designers will have to deal with other problems as well, from soil fertility (combined with plants, microorganisms, fungi, and small animals working together) to Martian dust storms (which will reduce the amount of light reaching the earth’s surface) and reduced gravity, which on Mars is only 38 percent of the earth.
In general, Smith stressed, attempts to completely reproduce the terrestrial forest on Mars are unproductive.
However, if at least some of the terrestrial species adapt, they can become the basis of a new ecosystem that will transform the face of the Red Planet.
The creation of such an ecosystem may seem unethical, because many organisms will die, unable to adapt to new conditions.
But, according to the scientist, the hope for the survival of at least a few should already serve as a worthy justification for the construction of the first extraterrestrial reserve.
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