Thursday, March 10, 2011

How The Earth Was Made

As I've said before, I have been recording several tv shows that I normally wouldn't get a chance to see; today the one I am watching is about the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth.  It's part of a series of linked documentaries called, no surprise, "How The Earth Was Made".  It's interesting to me, because the desert is so close to ocean, yet the hot air keeps any cool and moist air from rising above the hills surrounding the coast, which means it is around fifty times drier than Death Valley, even though it is on average about 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  Radio spectrometry performed on the rocks lying on the desert floor show that they have not been moved by flooding for at least 230 million years!

I wonder what would happen if those mountains were to be shaved in a section, allowing the lower hanging clouds to move into the area?  Would it be flooded, and slowly bloom back into a prairie-like state, or just become a treacherous flood plain, even more dangerous than it is now?  It's questions like that which also get me thinking about terraforming, and other major construction and earth-moving projects.  Currents in the ocean are one of the major factors that affect world temperatures; if a sufficiently advanced civilization were to redirect those currents, say by building up islands in their way, would it mean a form of weather control was possible?  Then again, it's just as likely it could ruin a relatively well balanced ecosphere, brining torrential storms where they'd never been seen before.

Speculation in this matter is just that, speculation; perhaps it would be better for people not to worry about modeling the future so much as to do what they can now to prevent climate change, if it is preventable.

-Joel de Bunchastu

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