Ever wondered where we’d be if the moon didn’t exist? I certainly did. In first year we undertook a project for the planetary geology module, where we had to design an informative and creative website via a program called Dreamweaver We chose our topic from a planetary geology themed list and mine was ‘The origin of the moon’. As much as the actual origin of the moon is a fascinating and complex topic, I thought I’d inspire you with the content of one of my sub-pages: so what would the Earth be like without the moon?
When the Earth was formed it was spinning very fast with days and nights lasting 4 hours each. When the Moon was formed it stabilised the earth’s spin and axial tilt into the regular seasonal locomotion we are familiar with today. Without the moon, the Earth’s axial tilt would be extreme and constantly changing. This means that different parts of the Earth would experience the sun at irregular times and there would be no steady seasonal change. No one would be able to predict when the next summer would be or how long the winter darkness would last.
Rotations of this speed would create massive storms and high winds travelling between 100 and 200 mph. Deadly lightning storms would devastate the ground and the shores would be attacked by enormous and violent waves causing intense flooding and chaos. Climate change would be extreme and rapid, constantly changing from arid desert to thick ice sheets in irregular and frequent periods.
Because of the instability of the planet, worldwide extinctions would be common and vicious. The only life that could survive would be short and sturdy, able to cling to the ground during the ferocious storms and hurricanes. Tall forests would snap in the powerful winds so the prevailing plants would have deep, thick root systems that could anchor them safely into the ground. Because of the immense volume of the winds life may not have evolved the ability to communicate using sounds, since it can’t be heard above the weather. Instead, complex forms of movement based language may have triumphed. To cope with the frequent darkness, sight would have to be massively enhanced, perhaps even to the capability of sensing starlight.
Our planet would become an alien and unfriendly place, so much so that complex and delicate life, such as humans, would not be able to survive. Humans evolved slowly over 150,000 years, during which the climate has been relatively stable. Without the moon the climate wouldn’t remain the same for such prolonged periods, so it is unlikely that humans would have evolved anyway.