Scientists have recognized for some time that the rotation rate of a planet must be fine-tuned to make advanced life on that planet possible.
If the planet rotates too slowly, the temperature differences between day and night will become too extreme. If the planet rotates too quickly, the jet streams will become too laminar and too stable, causing parts of the planet to be too wet and the rest to be bone dry. Now, two astronomers from the Astrobiology Institute at the University of Arizona have come up with a new twist on the fine-tuning of a planet’s rotation rate.1
The astronomers point out that a rapid rotation rate is the normal state for an Earth-like planet. The only reason why Earth is not rotating much more rapidly is because it has lost most of its angular momentum to its very large and nearby moon. The presently slow rotation rate of Earth prevents an even greater catastrophe for advanced life than the problem of poorly distributed rainfall.
The relatively slow rotation rate establishes an efficient transport of heat from the equatorial regions of the planet to the poles. Such heat transport prevents the polar regions from becoming so cold that the buildup of ice and even frozen carbon dioxide would destabilize the global climate. This result would cause a runaway glaciation2 that would lead to much of the planet becoming frozen for long periods of time.
Thankfully, Earth’s gigantic moon slows the planet’s rotation rate. Thanks also to the Creator for introducing just the right life-forms at just the right times throughout the past 3.8 billion years, and for creating human beings at just the right time in Earth’s history. Humanity enjoys both the optimal rotation rate for sustaining global high-technology civilization and the optimal support base from the planet’s past and present plants and animals.
Gratitude can also be extended to the two astronomers, whose research and insights provide the human species with even more evidence for the supernatural, superintelligent design of the Earth, Moon, and Earth’s life for humanityâ€™s specific benefit.
Curtis S. Cooper and Alexander A. Pavlov, “A New Twist on Planetary Habitability,” Astrobiology 7 (June, 2007): 407.
A significant drop in polar temperatures would cause snow and ice to cover a greater area of Earth’s surface. Because snow and ice reflect sunlight more efficiently than soil, rock, and plant cover, the average temperature of the planet’s surface would fall. This lower average temperature would result in more snow and ice forming causing an even further drop in average temperature and even more accumulation of snow and ice.