Our Planet is Unique and Bizarre

Our Planet is Unique and Bizarre

Human technology has allowed more observations of our planet than most of us realize. NASA currently operates around 30 Earth-observing missions accumulating massive amounts of data. We know about changes in sea level for the Earth’s oceans within a fraction of an inch. Hourly, we can know the areas of our planet covered with snow. We measure the amount of tree cover on Earth and minute-by-minute changes in the planet’s atmosphere. The result of all this detecting and measuring is that we know that our planet is unique and bizarre.

Earth is the only planet we have seen with an active water cycle that causes weather and allows the recycling of water resources. It is also the only known planet with active plate tectonics, recycling minerals within Earth’s crust using earthquakes and volcanoes while releasing volatiles that create and maintain our atmosphere.

We have only recently understood the Moon’s role and how important it is for life to exist on Earth. We know that it was formed in a catastrophic impact that determined its location and size. The size and distance from Earth are precisely right to cause the strength of our tides and give our planet a stable 23.4-degree tilt. Without the Moon, our Sun would cause very weak tides causing our coastlines to be much different, while the planet’s axis of rotation would wobble, destabilizing the climate.

Our planet is unique and bizarre because it has been shaped by vegetation, responsible for the atmosphere’s oxygen content of 21%. The typical astronomical atmosphere of planets is dominated by methane and carbon dioxide. Photosynthesis uses sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce the oxygen we breathe. Science is still struggling to understand the source of the massive amount of minerals we have on Earth. Meteorites have a small number of minerals, and while the Moon has a larger number, Earth’s variety of minerals is astounding.

Discover magazine featured an article discussing NASA’s studies of planet Earth. It stated that Earth observations have taught scientists one sure thing: “Our planet is unique and bizarre, with unusual properties that don’t match those of any other world we’ve seen, either in our own solar system or beyond it.”

For those of us who understand the science involved and believe in God as the creator, this is no surprise. Proverbs 8 finds “Wisdom” saying, “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way …” We see that beautifully demonstrated as we look at our planet and marvel at the intelligence of the Designer who produced it.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: “Earth is a Planet Too!” by Alison Klesman in the September/October 2022 issue of Discover magazine.

Water Cycle and Life

Water Cycle and Life

Many passages in the Bible seem to be of little significance, yet they are incredibly important. Here is one of them about the water cycle.

“All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again.” Ecclesiastes 1:7.

It is believed that Solomon wrote those words in 977 BC. What did people understand about the hydrologic cycle, or water cycle, at that time? The answer, of course, is “very little.” Meteorologist Dr. Joseph Scott Greeson says about this passage, “Without using modern words – like ‘evaporation,’ ‘condensation,’ and ‘precipitation,’ this passage describes the results of those processes in these words… My twentieth-century scientific mind recognized that the writer of that passage must have had quite an understanding of the interaction between water on earth and water in the sky.”

There is a delicate balance of processes in the hydrologic cycle that allow us to have water even far from a lake or ocean. Many years ago, I had a friend who was involved in seeding clouds with silver iodide to stimulate them to produce rain. I knew that he was involved in this project and that he had many stories about how the seeding of clouds worked. I also knew he got out of that business, and I asked him why? His response was, “We were doing okay in getting rain started, but we were doing very poorly in knowing how to stop it.”

Global warming is bringing water to places that previously were deserts. We know that temperature controls how much water is lifted into the air by evaporation. A one-inch rainfall over a square mile of land involves the lifting of 72,483.84 tons of water. (Do the math. Water is 62.4 lbs per cubic foot. An inch is 1/12th of a foot, so the volume of water in a square mile of land would be 5280 feet/mile x 5280 x 1/12th or 2,323,200 cubic feet.) How many square miles of land receive an inch of rain in a typical spring storm? This is the start of the water cycle.

As the water flows into streams and rivers, it nourishes everything in its path, ultimately returning to the sea from which it evaporated. The system that powers the hydrologic cycle is massive, and all of life depends on it. God used the water cycle to impress upon Job that he “darkens counsel with words without knowledge” (Job 38:2). After talking about the creation, God takes the hydrologic cycle as the first evidence of His knowledge, design, and power. “Who provides a channel for the torrents of rain and a path for the storm to water a land where no man lives, a desert with no one in it to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass. Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew…” (See verses 22-30).

Be thankful for the rain that brings life to us and for the water cycle that God designed so that, if properly managed, we all have enough to drink and to grow our food.

— John N. Clayton ©

Greeson quote from Scientists Who Believe page 64, Moody Press ISBN 0-8024-7634-1.

How Much Does Rain Weigh?

How Much Does Rain Weigh?A friend of mine likes to play with numbers. Calculations which speak of the wonder of the creation are of particular interest. My friend pointed out something that I had never really thought about. As I write this, it is raining, and we are supposed to get an inch (2.54 cm) of rain. How much does rain weigh?

For the sake of simplicity, let us assume we want to know the weight of an inch of rain on a square mile (2.58999 square km) of farmland. There are 5280 feet in a mile, so if an inch of rain, which is 1/12th of a foot, fell on a square mile of farmland the volume of water would be 5280 x 5280 divided by 12. That would be 2,323,200 cubic feet (65,785.698 cubic m). The density of water is 62.4 pounds per cubic foot (1000 kg per cubic m). The question is, how much does rain weigh? To calculate the weight of the water, multiply the cubic units by the weight for each cubic unit. That would come out to be 144,967,680 pounds or 72,483.84 tons (or 65,756,233.54 kg). That is for just one inch of rain. A foot of rain would weigh 12 times that much!

Rain is critical for our existence. We tend to take it for granted since we see it regularly in our day-to-day life. Perhaps we should pause and consider the wisdom build into a system that picks up many tons of water, lifts it high into the sky, and then pours it onto the land. Job said about God: “He does great and unsearchable things, wonders without number. He gives rain to the earth and sends water to the fields (Job 5:9-10).

The psalmist seems to have comprehended some of this design of God when he wrote: “Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praise unto our God who covered the heaven with clouds, who prepares rain for the earth, who makes grass to grow upon the mountains. He gives to the beast his food …” (Psalms 147:7-9).
— John N. Clayton © 2019