Ghost Worlds and CTEs
The Dangers of Terraforming
Pose Query: C.T.Es
A CTE, or Catastrophic Terraformation Event, occurs during the terraforming process of another planet. Life is not special. It isn't unique. Some species appear and go extinct at a constant rate. On a long enough timeline, the survival rate of any species will inevitably reach zero. Such is the way of life. Rinse and repeat. Enormous effort goes into preventing CTEs. Drones scour the surface, dig as far down as they can go. They search every crevice, scour every ocean. The resources needed to terraform a planet are costly, and it would be a shame to waste. It's easy to mark a planet as a bad candidate and move on. Smaller problems can be forcibly removed, but sometimes, something gets overlooked. Hundreds of colonists can end up dead for one reason or another. It often happens enough to be considered an occupational hazard.
Focused Query: Triggers
Any living organism, no matter how small, is a trigger for a CTE. Even detecting carbon monoxide in the atmosphere is a dead giveaway for carbon based species. To verify a terraforming candidate, the planet is studied vigorously. Stations will be built in orbit to analyze data and samples from the surface. Diagnosing it is trickier. There is no guarantee a CTE will occur even with the presence of life. When humanity settled on Safeharbor, it did so with few problems, a small miracle considering we knew nothing of the dangers at the time. This is why the stations are placed. Any old planet can be altered. Finding the ones you want to change is not as important as finding the ones you don’t. It's a much longer list, by far. CTEs are not only biological, however. Sometimes terraforming goes wrong on a mechanical level. Restarting the planet's core and creating a magnetic field can cause chaotic weather, tectonic activity, and other disastrous phenomena. These are just easier to account for and easier to handle. They are also a waiting game. Eventually these things will subside. A ghost world will be that way indefinitely.
Focused Query: Ethics
Many in the galactic community hate the very idea of terraformation. They see an ethical problem in altering planets beyond their natural state. It’s not how nature intended it to be, so why change it? Terraforming in general costs resources that usually come from somewhere else, further depriving that planet. Life on these worlds could die in the process, or thrive when they are best kept at bay. Most species do not share this sentiment, humanity included. We see the universe as a canvas. We will paint what we so choose. It should be said that were awfully bad at it. We still have yet to figure out the minute details.