The moon is the shiny silvery natural satellite of the Earth. There was a time when the Earth had no moon until scientists say a Mars-sized planet-like object called Theia collided with Earth. It happened about 4.5 billion years ago. As a result of the massive collision, a massive chunk of the earth broke away and created the moon. After that, the earth was never alone again. Hypothetically, What would happen if the moon suddenly disappeared?
Nights would be darker. Due to this, night predators like owls would find it very difficult to hunt at night. But this would be great news for stargazers as moonlight does not interfere. Also, traffic accidents, crimes, and suicides appear to be influenced by the lunar cycle.
Knowing what change this could have on humans and society would be enjoyable if the moon generally affects humans physiologically. The moon archives information about the earth and the solar system billions of years ago.
For example, the number of craters on the moon tells scientists that the asteroid period was heavy bombardment some 4.1 to 3.8 billion years ago. Scientific analysis of moon rocks has helped us learn how much Earth’s water was brought to Earth by comets and asteroids.
What would happen if the moon was destroyed?
Does the moon serve a significant purpose for the Earth? What would happen to the Earth if the moon were suddenly destroyed? First, the earth would be considerably darker because the moon’s surface reflects the sun’s light brightening the night sky. Without moonlight, areas that do not have artificial light, such as country roads or forested campsites, would become dangerous to drive or walk through at night.
- There would be disastrous consequences; the first large effect would be on oceans. The oceans would have much smaller tides and, in turn, would affect the coastal ecosystems. A disappearing moon would not entirely ruin surfing, but there would no longer be vast waves to ride as a thrilling spectacle.
How important is the moon for the Earth? Most scientists are sure that it was precisely the moment that provided all the necessary conditions for the appearance of life on Earth. Surprisingly all life on the green planet started in the oceans. Only much later did plants and living creatures evolve enough to begin living on land.
Earth and its inhabitants would have significant and wide-ranging consequences if the Moon were to be destroyed. Here are some potential effects:
Changes in Tides: The Moon is crucial in generating tides on Earth. Its gravitational pull causes the rise and fall of ocean tides. Without the Moon’s influence, tides would be substantially weaker. However, tides would still occur due to the Sun’s and other planets’ gravitational forces, though their magnitude would be significantly reduced.
Impact on Earth’s Rotation: The Moon’s gravitational influence helps stabilize Earth’s rotation, resulting in a relatively stable day-night cycle. If the Moon were destroyed, Earth’s rotation could become more irregular. It could lead to fluctuations in day length, potentially affecting weather patterns, ecosystems, and climate.
Diminished Lunar and Solar Eclipses: Lunar eclipses occur when the Earth passes between the Moon and the Sun, while solar eclipses occur when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. If the Moon no longer existed, these celestial events would no longer occur, depriving us of the fascinating phenomena of eclipses.
Impact on Life and Ecosystems: The Moon influences various natural processes that affect life on Earth. Its gravitational pull affects marine life, particularly organisms that rely on tides for reproduction, feeding, or migration patterns. The absence of the Moon could disrupt these ecological dynamics.
Impact on Human Culture and Exploration: For centuries, the Moon has captivated human imagination and cultural symbolism. Its destruction would profoundly impact human culture, literature, art, and scientific exploration. The loss of the Moon as a potential destination for future space missions would alter our aspirations in space exploration.
Gravitational force decreases
What does that have to do with the moon? One of the most important things about the Moon is its influence on the Earth’s gravitational pull. It makes the Seas and the oceans rise and fall, giving birth to the tides. They occur twice daily, with the water level rising and receding again.
- The Moon is responsible for most of the effects of the tides.
Without it, tides would only be a third of the size that they are now. This is because the Sun would account for the major gravitational pull affecting the altitude of the ocean. While the Sun is bigger than the Moon, like 400 times bigger, it is also much further away.
So, the tides it creates only have about 40% of the strength of our current lunar tides. Different organisms and plants get stranded in the pod or left behind every time the ocean retreats, clinging to rocks. So if it weren’t for the moon, there wouldn’t have been tides to force aquatic life forms to set up shop on land.
- Without the moon, low and high tides decreased by 75%, which disrupts entire ecosystems dependent on the tides.
The Sun’s gravitational forces also play their role in creating the tides, but their influence is much weaker. After all, compared to the moon, the Sun is 400 times farther from the Earth. Surprisingly, the Sun isn’t the only factor influencing our climate either.
The moon also has a finger in that too. Creatures such as crabs, starfish, snails, and mussels rely on the tides for survival. It would affect other land and sea animals, probably leading to mass extinctions.
Natural disaster occurs
The moon’s gravitational force pulls the Earth’s water masses towards itself. It creates a huge tidal bulge about 1.5 feet high out in the middle of the ocean. The Sun pulls its tidal bulge towards itself, keeping everything in balance.
- So without the moon, the balanced equation is broken, and 72,000 cubic miles of water come crashing down to sea level. It creates a supermassive tidal wave that humankind has never seen before.
California, Australia, Southeast Asia, and parts of Africa, Chile, India, and Western Europe disappear in the rushing water. It doesn’t bring along the destruction of cities and houses. It also means death. About 3/4 of the planet is affected, and fatalities reach 140 million worldwide. That’s half the population of the United States, but that’s not all. The number of casualties keeps going up.
The tidal catastrophe destroys infrastructure and triggers earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and hurricanes. The total number of lives lost easily exceeds 1 billion, and civilization never recovered after this cataclysmic disaster.
Once the large waves calm down, the water gets equally distributed around the planet. Earth’s climate is kept stable by tidal movements, and ocean currents are guided by the tides that distribute warmer weather worldwide and regulate the global climate.
Agriculture and Food shortage
Due to the new landscape on earth, people can’t grow crops or develop agriculture. So resource has become extremely limited. People start fighting for food and the scarce remnants of technology on the planet. Civil wars will likely break out and could be more brutal than anything we’ve seen. So without the moon, these natural cycles get messed up, dramatically affecting the whole food chain.
For example, algae usually come to the surface at night, directed by the moonlight. This then beckons creatures that feed on algae, like mussels, crabs, and sea snails. Then, creatures that feed on those algae eaters follow, and this activity goes up the food chain. If this process gets disrupted, people and animals will get mass extinctions. Yet new unimaginable creatures would appear. Old ones died out.
- Animals would become disoriented as they depend on moonlight and darkness to hunt.
An example would be predators like owls and lions, who rely on darkness and a bit of moonlight to hunt effectively. They would have trouble finding food. This would cause an imbalance because their prey would thrive without light at night. It would seriously affect the ecosystem leading to the extinction of predatory animals.
- At the same time, other species would increase, leading to overpopulation and starvation.
A perfect example would be rodents which tend to hide more when the moonlight is strong, where it’s easier for their predators to detect them. Without the moon, rodents would thrive. A balanced ecosystem also helps feed migrating local birds and land mammals like bears, raccoons, and deer.
Another example would be newly hatched turtles that use the moon’s light to find their way to the ocean. Artificial lighting already creates a problem with navigating, and they often go in the wrong direction. Moths evolved over millions of years, relying on the moon and stars to navigate. If the moon had disappeared would also have a major effect on humans as Earth’s seasons would drastically change.
Earth’s axis change
Earth is tilted at about 23.5 degrees, and the moon’s gravity on the earth holds it steadily. The moon has been a stabilizing force for hundreds and thousands of years. Not only would it screw up all of our schedules, but a faster rotation would also increase the amount of wind and storms on Earth. It would also destabilize the Earth’s access.
- Changing tilt with side effects would make the planet inhospitable to many creatures.
The Moon acts as an external force that stabilizes the earth’s angle. Without it, we could wobble between zero degrees with no seasons and barely any sunlight to 85 degrees, where the planet would fall over on its side like a kitten on a catnip high.
The moon’s gravitational pull also moves molecules in the atmosphere to hold more moisture when air molecules heat up. It means lower humidity and a lower chance of rain. As the moon sets, its tug weakens, causing lower air pressure and colder air molecules that can’t hold as much moisture and shed rain. There is also much debate on whether the lunar cycle impacts humans. The moon is claimed to affect fertility, menstruation, and birth rate.
The Earth’s axial tilt becomes extremely unstable. That’s yet another serious problem on top of the existing ones. It means that the earth’s core will constantly shift and shake. Without the moon, the Earth’s tilt would sometimes reach 45 degrees.
The equator would no longer be the hottest part of the planet, and the poles wouldn’t be as cold as they were before. In fact, the ice caps melt in a few years, and sea levels gradually rise. The climate never goes back to the one we’re used to. The seasons become unpredictable. Week after week, people see nothing but rain. Yet this is followed by a dry season lasting for months on end.
Then everything suddenly gets buried in snow that doesn’t melt for weeks or months. The transition between four distinct seasons exists no more. Many places on the planet have become hostile and unwelcoming toward people. With every passing year, more extensive areas on Earth become deserts.
- After the period of warming and melting of the ice at the poles, global cooling will increase.
This is because the gravity of satellites slows down the earth’s rotation. So without the moon, the Earth would spin faster and faster. The temperatures would drop since the Sun wouldn’t have enough time to heat the surface of our planet. Earth would lose its bodyguard against countless asteroids and meteors. The earth would be an entirely different place to live.
In the long run, this chaos would cause an ecological imbalance leading to the extinction of many predatory animals. Many marine animals that survive on oceanic currents will be wiped out. Learning about the moon is learning about the formation of the earth.
As a climate stabilizing force, large moons are one of the main things researchers look for when identifying planets that could host life. A planet outside the solar system needs a pretty good-sized moon for the weather systems to be calm enough to produce civilizations.
When will the moon die or destroy?
If the moon could disappear or die, it would do so in two ways. The first is turned into a black hole. The black hole that would be left would have different physical characteristics. But its effect on Earth would remain constant, including the tides and gravitational effects. The Schwarzschild radius is the radius of the resultant sphere. If all the mass of an object were to be compressed to the point, the escape velocity from the sphere’s surface would equal the speed of light.
This radius would be about 8.7 millimeters for the Earth, but the radius would be only 0.1 millimeters for the Moon. The moon would become the most dangerous speck of dust in Earth’s orbit. The moon could never turn into a black hole. That’s not how it works.
Subatomic particles could evaporate and reappear instantaneously across vast distances, but you take objects on the macroscopic level. These theories don’t mesh well with the theory of relativity. If the moon vanished, it could provide clues to bridge the gap between the tiny world in the world of the large.
Angier, Natalie. “Revisiting the Moon.” The New York Times. New York City.
Halliday, Alex. “Terrestrial accretion rates and the origin of the Moon.” Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
Young, Edward D.; Kohl, Issaku E.; Warren, Paul H.; “Oxygen isotopic evidence for vigorous mixing during the Moon-forming giant impact.”
Canup, R.; Asphaug. “Origin of the Moon in a giant impact near the end of the Earth’s formation.”
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