Science News: Comet Neowise and the Origin of Earth's Oceans

Comet Neowise over France


Do you know what made the Earth’s oceans?  

To find the answer, just look up and you’ll be able to see Comet Neowise, the brightest comet in 20 years.  Here’s how to see it

Comets have long been theorized to be the source of the Earth’s oceans.  Last year, scientists succeeded in measuring the heavy water isotope ratio in comets, which just so happens to be the same as in our ocean. 

So, the next time you’re sliding down a salty wave, think about its cosmic origin. The ocean was created by cometary impacts during the formation of the Earth itself 4.6 billion years ago. 


Ansel Adams photo of a farm beneath California's Sierra Nevada Mountains (a rather large pile of silicate rocks)

“Planting” rocks on farms to fight climate change 

When Dr. James Hansen releases a new paper, climate change science nerds rejoice. His latest shows how farmers can speed up the Earth’s own natural recovery mechanisms from climate change.

Did you know that the weathering of rocks by water is the most powerful way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere?  Unfortunately, this weathering happens over millions of years, and is too slow to combat the incredibly high rate of human CO2 emissions.  

HOWEVER, we can use Enhanced Rock Weathering to speed up the rate of weathering.  This latest research shows that farmers could improve the productivity of their farms and absorb 2 billion tons of CO2 per year, simply by spreading silicate rock dust among their crops.

The simplicity of this is astounding, and it’s one more example that nature knows how to solve excess CO2 in the atmosphere. We just need to figure out how to help nature speed up so it doesn’t take millions of years.  

“We will need the combination of reforestation, enhanced weathering, and other techniques to draw down atmospheric CO2 to a safe level.” - Dr. James Hansen

That’s why SeaTrees is proud to offer options to restore blue carbon ecosystems, which are incredibly effective at sequestration of carbon dioxide. We’re also partnering with Project Vesta, who are pioneering enhanced rock weathering with olivine in coastal environments.


Thawing permafrost in the Arctic.

As the Arctic Burns, Permafrost Melts, and we get scared  

As we’ve written previously, the true threat from climate change comes from warming feedback mechanisms in nature, such as burning rainforests, slowing ocean circulation, and permafrost melting. 

That’s why we are so dismayed with the latest news of 100F temperatures in the Arctic last week.  The Arctic, which is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, is a threat because the permafrost contains 1,000 times more carbon than the historical total of human CO2 emissions. If the Arctic melts, there is no stopping climate change.

If we don’t find a way to turn down the heat on the Arctic, it’s going to be very hard to solve climate change.  This is why supporting efforts to pull CO2 from the atmosphere is so important right now.  Whether it’s planting trees, restoring kelp forests, or speeding up rock weathering, we are learning how to help our planet heal itself.  


Restoring Ocean Health by 2050

Just in case you need a little inspiration, after the depressing news of the Arctic heatwave, don’t forget about the scientific research showing a pathway to restore ocean health by 2050.  The oceans have significant resilience in the face of human impacts, and we can actually restore the oceans back to full health if we can get climate change under control.  You can learn more about this vision at Oceans 2050.