In the film Silent Running, the Earth has become uninhabitable to all but humans, and a fleet of space ships out in the vicinity of Saturn each have 6 large geodesic domes. Some plant and animal life is being sustained in these domes, in the hope that planet Earth will be able to support them once more in the future. In this article I will discuss the evolution of Earth's current human-friendly environment, and also the idea of terra-forming, creating an Earth-like environment elsewhere.
The world is changing, and has already changed. Global temperatures are rising, weather patterns are altering and evidence for these changes being driven by human changes to the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere has (in the view of most mainstream scientists) become compelling.
Film actors and directors have for a number of years now had a high profile in speaking out about environmental issues. The Earth Communications Office in Los Angeles was a consortium of film directors, producers and actors using their position to raise environmental awareness within the industry and to make the industry more environmentally sustainable.
Silent Running was released at a time when there were almost no limits on the imagination of science fiction writers and screenwriters. The advent of the space age led to the belief that we really would be travelling through the Solar System in a few decades. Sure, there were technical challenges, but these were thought to be easily surmountable. Other films of that era, such as Arthur C Clarke's "2001: A Space Odyssey", treat the difficulties of space travel with some respect for the science, while others exercise a little more poetic licence.