The Earth moves at about 1,000 MPH at the equator. While this sounds very fast, due to the fact that we are physically on Earth, we move at the same constant speed. At its current speed, Earth takes 24 hours for a full rotation, which is how we measure a single day. What if the Earth’s rotational speed doubled, though? Would time change? What kind of change would we see in our environments? Would Earth lose its current shape due to the gravitational pull?
Losing Earth’s Figure
Currently, Earth ha a shape that is comparable to a sphere, although it is not perfect. Due to the current rotational speed and gravitational pull, the Earth protrudes at the equator and slightly flatter at the North and South Poles. If Earth were to move at a faster speed, especially if the speed doubled, the bulge along the equator would be much more pronounced. This would add thousands of more miles along Earth’s surface near the equator. The Earth would look even less spherical, and more like a flattened basketball.
The increased speed would also put major stress on the Earth’s crust. By doing so, we would experience more volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. As the plates beneath Earth’s surface moved to try and keep up with the rotational speed, we would witness deeper rifts and ocean trenches, as well as wider mountain ranges and more pronounced canyons. Another outcome of the scattering plates would be seen on our surface. Continents would move, altering the appearance of Earth completely.
What About The Environment?
We fall witness to many daily accounts of natural disasters. We see floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and more throughout the world. If the Earth’s speed were to double, what you see now would pale in comparison to the disastrous events we would encounter. With a faster speed, comes faster winds. This is explained by the Coriolis Effect. These winds, as they increase, could blur the lines between our weather systems. Due to this effect on wind patterns, we would witness more tornadoes and hurricanes in places they have not been seen in before.
The sun would also play a huge role in our environmental changes. Since Earth’s full rotation would be faster, our days would be shorter, but our years would be longer. With only a 12-hour day, the sun would not be heating the Earth at the same rate it currently does. This would gives us milder day-to-night cycles, and the heat during the day would not be as high due to the sun not being able to concentrate on one area for very long. Also, even though we would experience storms and extreme weather at higher rates, they would not be as extreme because of the lack of adequate heat to power them.
Oh The Humanity
We as humans take everything we are given for granted, whether we want to admit it or not. If the Earth’s speed were to increase, it seems humans would have it pretty easy. With the more rapid change of seasons, less people would die in the cold winters. We might also feel lighter. At the equator, we experience centrifugal forces that reduce our weight. If the Earth’s speed increases, our weight at the equator would be less than it is today. It seems that humans will still be just fine if the rotational speed were to double.
Although the idea of the Earth’s speed increasing to such a high rate does seem improbable, it isn’t impossible. Many eons ago, Earth rotated at a much higher speed (days were about 6 hours long). When the moon’s gravitational pull came into play, Earth began slowing down. This allowed Earth to become the inhabitable planet it is today. So as awesome as it sounds to have such drastic changes occur in our environment, maybe we should just admire what we have while we’ve got it.