Weird Science Wednesdays: Damn, It’s Cold
One of my favorite scientific hypotheses is the “Snowball Earth” hypothesis. This states that hundreds of millions of years ago, the Earth was covered with ice from pole to pole. Some scientists believe it was less of a “snowball” and more of a “slushball”, with some liquid water around the equator. Either way, how freaking awesome would an ice-covered Earth be? I mean, not really to live on, because humans couldn’t, but just the idea that at some points in time the Earth was so drastically different climate-wise that it was just totally white with ice. It’s probably the nerd in me, but I love reading about the evolution of the earth and all the really extreme things that have happened to it.
While you would think being covered in ice would be very, very bad for life on Earth, some scientists now believe that Snowball Earth triggered complex life to form. The glaciation may have started a chain of events that led to a rise in atmospheric oxygen, which we know is quite needed for animals like us to exist. To me, it’s amazing how resilient life is and how unpredictable evolution is. The fact that life managed to exist and eventually thrive despite such extreme conditions gives us hope that some awesome aliens exist on a planet that you wouldn’t think could support life.
Another interesting idea is that life itself could have triggered the Snowball Earth event. When bacteria developed the ability to metabolize water into oxygen, the increase in oxygen destroyed the methane that was keeping the planet warm. Thus, snowball.
Besides the snowball, the Earth’s climate obviously changes regularly from colder to warmer. Why? Because of the tilt of the Earth’s axis. The tilt is why we have seasons, and human-triggered global warming notwithstanding, is why the climate shifts. Of course, anti-science douchebags like to use this to diminish our role in the current warming of the planet, but anyone with half a brain can see that the warming is escalating at a much more rapid pace because of our CO2 emissions. Duh.
So, east coasters/Midwesterners, when you complain about all the snow you’re getting, remember it’s been a lot worse. Hope that helps.