November 21, 2017 | David F. Coppedge

Earth as a Living, Breathing Planet: Is It Unique?

A new NASA video based on 20 years of data from earth-orbiting satellites will awe viewers.

See the Nov 19 entry for news about the book.

Three days ago we introduced the new book Spacecraft Earth: A Guide for Passengers by CEH authors Henry Richter and David Coppedge. The timing of a new video from NASA/Goddard could hardly be more appropriate. Take a moment at to watch it.

Unlike the many static views of Earth taken by NASA, this video, animated from 20 years of observations from earth-orbiting satellites, reveals how our planet lives and breathes through the seasons. It’s called “the most complete view of global biology to date.” Watch as plant life, ice caps, and plankton grow and shrink as wind and ocean currents move life around the globe.

The low-key narration and music allows the imagery to dominate the show. The video begins with mention of Explorer 1, the mission whose scientific instruments Dr Richter managed at JPL in 1958 (note that the 60th anniversary of that mission is coming up January 31, 2018).

Interspersed with the stunning views of Earth are snippets of biological diversity, from honeybees to koalas to cornstalks. The narration is friendly to intelligent design. In the mentions of biological diversity, nothing is said about evolution. In the mentions of changing climate, humans are not blamed. In the discussions of exoplanets, there are no speculations about space aliens. Instead, one could take home the conclusion that Earth is unique. The narrator says at 4:10,

Scientists think that there are likely trillions of planets. Yet Earth is still the only planet we know of with life. And with that in mind, our habitable home world seems ever more fragile and beautiful when considering the vastness of a livable space.

Next, senior research scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center, Dr Compton Tucker, draws the implications.

I have several friends and acquaintances who are astronauts. They all say the same thing: when they are in orbit, in the Space Shuttle or on the International Space Station and look down at the Earth, they see one climate and one planet. We’re all in this together and we need to work together to make sure that life as we know it continues on this wonderful planet.

A Dive Into the Details of Earth Habitability

As a companion for the video, listen to an audio podcast from ID the Future with Dr Michael Denton on the subject, “Remarkable Coincidences in Photosynthesis.” Dr. Denton, author of the influential book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis in 1994 and Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis in 2016, has a new book out this year called The Wonder of Water. What he describes is absolutely astonishing.

Animated GIF from the earth-orbiter data set. Courtesy NASA.

In the podcast, Denton shows how numerous “coincidences” are absolutely critical for life. These include the nature of electrons, water, oxygen, stellar emissions, diatomic and triatomic molecules, atmospheric gas ratios, human lungs, metabolic energy requirements, and more. The convergence of factors he describes are not just necessary for microbial life, but for advanced complex life like human beings. The implications are staggering: how often do these factors come together just right for life to be possible?

NASA (and in particular JPL) are fond of thinking life exists where water is liquid, even deep under crusts of ice on moons in the outer solar system (see this JPL press release for a recent example). Denton’s analysis undermines those speculations, showing that much more is required for complex life than just water. The evidences for design are astronomical.

The new book Spacecraft Earth adds many more requirements for complex life, habitable planets and a life-enabling universe, leading one to seriously consider that Earth may be uniquely suited for life in this vast cosmos. I hope you will obtain a copy and let your soul become awe-struck with the wonders of life, design, and God’s love.



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