This week on the forums: Ancient climate, plastic rocket fuel and alien life!

A map of tropical water vapor from NASA. Research on water vapor and other climate features suggests that satellite measurements might have underestimated past warming.
A map of tropical water vapor from NASA. Research on water vapor and other climate features suggests that satellite measurements might have underestimated past warming. (Image credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

Welcome back to your weekly review of the forums. Our growing community loves nothing more than chatting about science and exploration of the great beyond. Join the community today and sign up to be part of the conversations! 

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This week, the community buzzes about a story concerning Earth’s ancient climate. Then, we see one community member ask a pair of intriguing questions.

 Ancient Earth

The history of CO2 on Earth is preserved in microscopic fossils and molecules, which researchers studied in-depth in a new climate study.  (Image credit: University of St Andrews)
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Imagine the Earth's climate reverting back to a time when crocodiles roamed the Antarctic. Well, that's what we're in store for if serious action isn't taken to slow down the use of fossil fuels, as explained in this story from Senior Writer Chelsea Gohd. Naturally, this had the community both interested and concerned. Here's a selection of responses:

The big question, of course, is: If it was so catastrophic then, how come we are here now? Please do not misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that we do nothing. Quite the opposite. I am against global warming. - Catastrophe

I think we do need alternative fuel sources, but killing pipelines and shutting down oil production overnight will kill us all quicker than global warming. We must all remember that CO2 is a NEEDED part of our atmosphere. But, we do need to slow fossil fuel use, I totally agree with that. Since we are living in a democracy here in the USA, opposition view points on this subject need to be posted so that we all can make actual educated decisions on our future. I only see ONE sided articles.....kill oil or we are all doomed. That is just not reality.... - Crusader

As I recall, H. Ergaster/Erectus was around for about 1 meg+ years due to a stable climate in the Pleistocene epoch. The climate changed and Evolution happened within the genus Homo. If we can't/ don't change our fossil fuel use wouldn't the same Evolution happen in response to global warming, (or cooling) provided that the change was not rapid? Hopefully, we wouldn't go extinct. (My private list of exceptions notwithstanding). We are about halfway through the main-sequence, so it would seem that Evolution would come into effect despite us. - sam85geo

Check out the whole conversation here.

 Plastic = rocket fuel? 

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon CRS-22 cargo ship for NASA launches toward the International Space Station from Pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on June 3, 2021. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Though shrinking the use of fossil fuels is key, another problem scientists and environmentalists struggle with is plastic. Whether it’s occupying landfills or endangering ocean wildlife, this ubiquitous pollutant has long been an issue. However, serhiy1635 asks "can we remake plastic into a rocket fuel?" Below are some of the responses to this question: 

All these used plastic water bottles everywhere would be a good place to start. - Clovis

Yes, that would be unusually cool to kill two birds with one stone: to contribute to protecting the environment from plastic waste + to produce high-quality fuel out of this waste. I have also heard about some companies who develop necessary technologies. As far as I know their tests showed that using such fuel is even more effective than using kerosene. - Charlotte Bridgestone

Jump in with your own thoughts here.

 Life out there  

With space being the ever expanding frontier that it is, it can be understandably tempting to consider the existence of alien life. So, serhiy1635 hits us with another fascinating question: "Do you believe in the possibility of life in other galaxies?" Here’s a selection of responses.

Earlier I thought that there can be any other civilization, but the more I learn about space, the more I make sure that the chances that other civilizations exist are high enough. Perhaps the closest civilization lives in our Solar System....- CCooper96

I think this is such an interesting question but because I'm really interested in the ethics of 'colonising' other planets, galaxies etc. If we do go to mars and add an Earth colony there, we are only judging our ability to do this by technical ability. But is it right to do this? I'm not sure. - pvroom

I wonder if we have properly defined life yet. - IG2007

Join the conversation here.

What planet/ moon should we colonize?

A question about general relativity.

Hibernating sun.

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