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2 - Welcome to an Awesome Planet

A Series of Delicate Balances Support Earth’s Fragile Flame

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 June 2021

Chris C. Funk
Affiliation:
University of California, Santa Barbara
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Summary

From the intergalactic dance of dark energy and gravity, to the push and pull of our sun’s protonic plasma, to the ebb and flow of Earth’s winds and waves, a series of delicate balances supports life on our “Goldilocks Planet.” A nice balance of gravity's pull and dark energy's push resulted in a rich quilt of galaxies and stars, with us ending up in a comfortable Green galaxy, in a prime-mid spiral section of the Milky Way galaxy, rotating around a nice sun (not too close, not too far) gently emitting in the yellow part of the energy spectrum. A healthy quantity of atmosphere and greenhouse gasses, along with the Van Allen belts, keeps out most high-energy particles and maintains a reasonable temperature. The Hadley and Walker Circulations pitch in, creating clockwise rotating circulation cells in and over the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, transporting heat away from the equator and depositing it in poleward latitudes. These circulations bring life-giving moisture to the continents, supporting abundant life. Note, however, that the manual for Spaceship Earth does not contain a warranty. Right there on the cover, next to the red “Don't Panic” logo, is emblazoned “No Returns If Opened.”

Type
Chapter
Information
Drought, Flood, Fire
How Climate Change Contributes to Catastrophes
, pp. 21 - 39
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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