Snowball Earth

2008, Science  -   8 Comments
Ratings: 8.53/10from 59 users.

Over 650 million years ago, our entire planet existed in a frozen state. So speculates the hypothesis known as Snowball Earth. The mounting evidence of this controversial phenomenon is explored in great depth in the second episode of Catastrophe series, as scientists and geologist comb the farthest reaches of the globe in search of the next clue of Earth's rich and elusive history.

The film begins in the Australian Outback. There, geologists have uncovered the existence of dropstones, a rock fragment that is thought to only occur in the presence of ice formations. How then are these dropstones detected in the middle of a desert wasteland? Geobiologist Dr. Joe Kirschvink, an esteemed researcher who first coined the phrase Snowball Earth, has located these same stones in the United States along the stretch of desert known as Death Valley. The magnetic readings of these rocks date back many hundreds of millions of years to a time when Snowball Earth theorists claim our planet was gripped by the greatest ice age in its history.

"The entire Earth would have looked like Antarctica looks today," contends Dr. Kirschvink. "Even areas as desolate as Death Valley would be under several meters of ice. The whole planet would be a snowball."

If our planet was indeed in a state of deep freeze 650 million years ago, what was the inciting incident? Ice ages which occurred before and since are explained through the rotation of the Earth and its growing distance from the thawing warmth of the sun. However, in those instances, only up to a third of the planet's surface is thought to have been covered in ice. Snowball Earth theorists believe that the culprit behind this global freeze involved the absence of carbon dioxide, a compounds that plays the featured role in determining the temperature of our planet.

How did any form of life survive such relentlessly bleak and destructive conditions? With authoritative insight, Snowball Earth investigates these and other factors which support this surprising narrative, and offers speculation on how the existence of the human species may fare should another such event occur in our planet's future.

More great documentaries

8 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Joseph Gilliat

    The Earth is speeding up in Space time, like, one day is one week, soon we are coming to the border of Space time.

  2. Adarsha

    Too many speculations in this documentary. Its like millions of years later someone finds a rock from kilimanjaro and another from Himalaya, and speculates both were close to equator and hence the whole earth was frozen. I still buy this theory because it agrees with my mythology ;-)

  3. Jack Lass

    With reference to the comment of Rajiv Mandu: Right on sir. We should always remember that "The Mother of Fools is Always Pregnant". Likewise, to quote the late Christopher Hitchens: "Assertions made without evidence may be dismissed without evidence."

  4. Rajiv Mandu

    CO2 traps heat, amplifying it. Oxygen doesn't. Understanding this simple chemistry would help one to form an informed opinion. Just as understanding when to use quotation marks and capital letters would help to communicate effectively and lend some credibility to a posting. Scientists paid off to make public statements are never qualified in the fields they comment on, such as those paid off by the tobacco and oil industry to deny smoking causes injury and deny co2 emissions increase atmospheric levels (and deny that there is any effect if the do). None of the spokespersons denying climate science findings have any qualifications in the study of climate, and all are funded by oil companies. None of the climate scientists warning of climate effects from co2 emissions were paid to make those statements, who would pay someone to do that, and why? There is no economic agenda backing climate change. Climate change is bad for everyone, we all lose. The only funding climate scientists receive is the same funding ALL academics and scientists receive in every field. It is how research is done. All research and field work costs money. There are no lies for profit, there is no profit to be had from climate change. There are billions to be lost cutting emissions enough to save the earth as we know it. Some of those billions are funding the misinformation that no matter how badly we pollute the oceans and our atmosphere, nothing is going to happen that wouldn't happen if mankind never existed. You have to be pretty isolated and undereducated to accept that as having any possibility of being true.

  5. Haut

    CO2 does "NOT" create heat, or "COLD" it follows them! Can a :REAL" scientist explain this please. Not a paid off hack who will agree with anything to keep his job!

  6. ProudinUS

    It's lame!

  7. Fabien L

    I like that serie, interesting scientists and nice animations.

  8. User_1

    Interesting. I wonder how most of the scientists are viewing this theory?