Water Does Not Equal Life: Why There May Not Be Life on Planets With Water


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Extraterrestrial life is fascinates many people and I am definitely one of them. Many people like to think about life on other worlds. There are many factors that cause life to not have the ability to exist on other planets. These can include a lack of water on a planet or the planet’s being too hot or cold. However, with the discovery of water, an essential to life on other earth, on other worlds, some scientists have thought that this could be indicative of there being life on other worlds. Or at least this indicates that life could exists on other worlds, right? However, with new information, scientists have discovered that this may not necessarily be true.

According to an article from the AAAS, it does not really matter that there is water if there is too much water on the planet and not enough land. If there are large amounts of water, there will be an accumulation of increased amounts of carbon dioxide dissolved in the water seeing as water will dissolve certain gases. This occurs because the carbon dioxide on the planet will be dissolved in water when the temperatures on the planet are relatively low. This continues to lower the temperature of the planet which causes it to be too cold to be habitable.  Life, as we know it, can only exist between the narrow ranges, even if they exist on different extremes such as ability to exist in very cold or hot conditions such as some archaebacteria. Higher temperatures on a planet can causes a greenhouse effect on the planet that is similar to, if not more severe than, the greenhouse effect we see on earth.

According to Science News, there is an ocean cycle that is associated with carbon dioxide causing cold planets to grow even colder and hot planets to grow even hotter.  The cycle that occurs on these other planets, according to the Oxford Journals of the Royal Astronomy Society, there is a negative feedback cycle concerning carbon dioxide on these other water worlds. This means that there are specific set amounts of a specific amounts of carbon dioxide on the planet in its air and is associated with the temperature of the planet. When the temperature decreases, there the balance is upset and more carbon dioxide must be absorbed into the ocean to restore the balance. This same balance is upset when the temperature increases, but carbon dioxide is released from the ocean and restores the balance.

However, this only refers to a specific type of planet and these are ocean planets. They’re not present in our solar system, but are suspected to be present in other solar systems. There could be life on other planets that are not ocean planets, so long as the life is different and does not need water to survive. We don’t know that these kinds of planets do not exist, so all hope is not lost! Whatever lifeforms may exist on other planets, we know they’re really not too much like us.

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