Scientists and engineers try to solve the problem of pollution in the world's oceans. Evidence is uncovered that Neanderthals were more sophisticated than generally assumed. And the value of zoos is weighed and considered. It's Earthy Thursday, our weekly segment on science and Earth-related news! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

A lot of people are probably aware that trash which makes its way into the ocean be a significant biohazard to marine life. In particular, the image of a turtle of seagull with its neck caught in a six-pack ring is a very potent one. But could our trash be engineered to be less harmful? National Geographic says it is indeed possible.

In less positive news, a pretty severe blow has been struck against the ocean's ecosystems: at least 35% of the corals in the northern and central parts of Australia's Great Barrier Life are now confirmed to be dead. This massive die-off, which is an ecological catastrophe, has been linked to warming temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, which have resulted in so-called "coral bleaching."

Today, there is but one human species: homo sapiens sapiens. But in the past, that wasn't always so. Tens of thousands of years ago, another breed of human walked the Earth: the Neanderthal. But despite common associations of the word Neanderthal with boorish behavior and primitive anatomy, Neanderthals were pretty clever themselves, as a new discovery indicates.

If you're familiar with science fiction you've probably, at one point or another, heard the word "terraformation." Referring to the hypothetical process by which a planet could be transformed to be made more habitable to humans and other Earth-born life. Many advocates have long had their eyes on Mars, our interplanetary neighbor which may have itself once been habitable in the distant past. Now, they may have an actionable plan. The catch? It involves nukes. A lot of them.

After the death of Harambe, the beloved gorilla exhibited at the Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio many are wondering about the ethics of zoos themselves. Some have even gone so far as to say we should ourselves of them. But not everyone is so sure. Indeed, it's possible that zoos, while imperfect, may do far more to help animals as a whole than they do to harm them.