This isn’t an awful sequel to the already awful science-fiction film, The Day the Earth Stood Still. But this is a thought-experiment to get a better sense of the characteristic of the earth that we pay very little attention to. There have been various hypotheticals and counterfactuals that have elaborated on the alternate scenario that the above-mentioned film highlights. I am going to try and expand on this seemingly trivial hypothetical, without sounding cynical that is.
So, what if the earth spun in the opposite direction? Let’s start with the genesis of the idea. Where did it come from? Having written on a hypothetical a week for a little over 10 months, I realized that I have only been paying attention to little alternatives that might cause a big uproar or supposedly big counterfactuals that hardly have any consequence in the bigger scheme of things; never have I thought of an alternate scenario that is superficially trivial and cynical but is, in fact, more consequential than it looks.
Right now, the earth rotates from the west to the east, if viewed from the North Pole, therefore it rotates counter-clockwise. But when you look at it from the South Pole, the earth does, in fact, appear to rotate in a clockwise motion. Of all the other 7 planets in the solar system, Venus is the only one that spins in the opposite direction, which is believed to be because of a major collision that happened billions of years ago. Uranus, spins on an extreme angle, not backward, however.
The only way that the earth could counter the direction of its spin is if it met with a massive collision with another planetary body. The collision will have disastrous consequences. Given that the planetary body would have to be of a size that is at least equal to, if not more than, the earth’s mass, the pure impact of the body, will end up killing or destroying ever living and the non-living entity that it comes in contact with. Depending on the hemisphere, almost half of earth’s population, human and otherwise, might be wiped out.
But then, the alternative that we have wanted to happen will happen. The earth will change the direction of its spin. Apart from the planetary genocide, the most consequential result of the change in spin will be to alter the pattern of the Coriolis effect. This effect determines the direction of the winds in the two hemispheres. The change in direction will alter the effect, which in turn alters weather patterns.
Tradewinds would switch. Patterns of human discovery, empire-building, and resulting political geography would all be different, since the change in direction of the spin. Deserts would be jungles and the most prosperous of environments would be barren lands. The change in spin will reverse history altogether because habitation and migration are the two major reasons that some of the most consequential events in history have taken place.
What’s worse, however, is if we start getting motion sickness because it would take us a while to adjust to this change in spin. That would mean that we’d all be sick at once. That’s another hypothetical altogether.
(When he isn’t writing, the creative producer with The Rascalas watches a lot of ‘cat videos’ on YouTube)