Terraforming is NOT landscaping

The internet is wrong. I need to make it right.

Motivated by the downvotes to these reddit comments of mine, I ask:

PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, don’t call doing stuff with a shovel, or a shovel-equivalent, “terraforming“. It is not. It is landscaping.



If you were to go terraforming your garden, it would involve things like sublimating frozen carbon dioxide into there and buying ammonia and hydrocarbons in order to warm it up and make it possible for living things from earth to live in there. This garden would exist on an another planet. It’s appearance would be the smallest of your problems.



If you were to go landscaping your garden, it would involve a shovel or some sort of machine for moving ground around, and some seeds or whatever, in order to make it look like you want it to.

9 Responses to “Terraforming is NOT landscaping”

  1. Temperest Says:

    I suppose it’s a matter of opinion – the word terraforming could be applied to landscaping as well as the more mundane operations, since both are “forming the earth”, so to speak.

  2. James Says:

    Um…. Isn’t that kind of a duh? I suppose some people use the word wrong now days?

  3. hkmaly Says:

    I think that there ARE places which need terraforming even on Earth. Rubbish dumps and surface mines for example. Or deserts. Or you can call it terraforming if you turn sea into land – which, technically, can be done by shovel.

    Garden, no matter what state is in, never needs terraforming by definition. If it would need terraforming, noone would call it garden.

  4. Mantar Says:

    As a long time sci-fi nerd, I’m with you 100%. Terraforming is the act of taking a planet that is uninhabitable for human beings and altering its temperature, atmosphere, and chemical makeup until it moves into the boundary conditions to sustain human life. If you can land on it and walk around (with or without a shovel), it doesn’t need terraforming. If your ship would melt or freeze, or the atmosphere would poison or suffocate you, you need terraforming.

    Deserts don’t need terraforming, they need irrigation and shelter. Rubbish heaps and mining sites don’t need terraforming, they need waste cleanup. And no, landscaping is never “terraforming,” don’t mistake the literal meaning of the latin base for the meaning of a recently minted word.

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