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"the [science fiction] writer should be able to convince the reader (and himself) that the wonders he is describing really can come true...and that gets tricky when you take a good, hard look at the world around you."
- Frederik Pohl

Planets Made Habitable  
  A plan to "terraform" a planet to improve its habitability by human beings.  

This is an early reference to the idea; see the discussion below for other sources.

On the other hand, Mars could not be made habitable without first being stocked with air and water; and such an undertaking seemed impossible. There was nothing for it, then, but to attack Venus. The polar surfaces of that planet, shielded by impenetrable depths of cloud, proved after all not unendurably hot. Subsequent generations might perhaps be modified so as to withstand even the sub-arctic and "temperate" climates. Oxygen was plentiful, but it was all tied up in chemical combination. Inevitably so, since oxygen combines very readily, and on Venus there was no vegetable life to exhale the free gas and replenish the ever-vanishing supply. It was necessary, then, to equip Venus with an appropriate vegetation, which in the course of ages should render the planet's atmosphere hospitable to man.
From Last and First Men, by Olaf Stapledon.
Published by Not known in 1930
Additional resources -

Compare to the red weed described by HG Wells in his 1898 novel The War of the Worlds; the word terraform was coined by Jack Williamson in his 1941 short story Collision Orbit.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Last and First Men
  More Ideas and Technology by Olaf Stapledon
  Tech news articles related to Last and First Men
  Tech news articles related to works by Olaf Stapledon

Planets Made Habitable-related news articles:
  - Nuke Mars To Terraform It, Says Elon Musk

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