Since the Earth was formed 450 million years ago, it has been rotating in one direction（eastward or counterclockwise）. It is basically called “prograde,” meaning that the Earth’s rotation is in the same direction as that of the Sun. Most satellites go prograde around their planets, and most planets go prograde around Stars. The only exceptions in our solar system are Venus and Uranus, which rotate in the opposite direction from Sun (retrograde). However, the Earth’s prograde tendency has maintained its original way of rotation, because that is the way the universe was created.
So what would happen if one day our planet decided to make an unprecedented shift from 4.5 billion years, shifting to the retrograde queue and spinning in the opposite direction? The good news is that this shift would not be a huge catastrophe and we would not go back like Superman. The first and most significant effect is the change in sunrise and sunset. Now, instead of rising from the west and setting from the east, the sun will rise from the east and set from the west.
Strangely enough, if we assume that the rotation speed of the Earth will not be affected, then the complete rotation will still take twenty-four hours. Therefore, our day will not become longer and our concept of time will not be affected. However, it may take us a long time to adapt to the changes in sunrise and sunset. And on that topic, even if the Earth goes in a different direction, for the most part, it doesn’t really change our seasons. Consider again that our seasons depend on the orbit of the Earth around its star, while we still orbit the Sun in the same way. The Earth would behave much like it does now, with summer still coming after spring, spring still coming after winter, and so on.
But that will be all the things that remains the same, and everything else will be totally change. First, the Earth’s rotation produces the Coriolis force, which determines the jet streams. And jet streams in turn determine the global climate and the temperature on Earth. They are used by meteorologists to explain those nasty cold fronts that can make winters so unbearably cold. And, the cold fronts are mainly westerly winds. This means that they flow from west to east, and these trade winds also directly affect the Earth’s rotation. These are the easterly winds found mainly in the tropics, and these winds are usually responsible for the landing sites of tropical storms, as they seem to be the ones that drive these storms to move.
The current transatlantic hurricane blows from the northeast to the North American trade area. But if the rotation of Earth were reversed, wind would bring rain to desert areas and could provide constant moisture to create rainforests and have a huge impact on the climate of the equatorial regions.
In addition, a rotation of the Earth in the opposite direction would also infringe the climate. In fact, it could completely change the topography of our planet, as well as causing different ocean currents and atmospheric flows that would affect the climate and ecosystems on Earth.
On the one hand, in the 2018 the institutes of the Max-Planck Society presents the exact hypothetical scenario that a reversed Earth could subliminally provide itself more plants. The study also found that this would shrink the total desertification area from 12 million square meters to 4 million square meters. In addition, the simulation predicts that if the Earth does reverse, the Sahara desert will be more plants due to its unprecedented amount of rainfall, and in general the desert will become an oasis like Brazil, Argentina and the United States.
But on the other hand, the change of air currents and winds caused by the Earth’s reversal will make Europe extremely cold. Although the weather in Britain today is comfortable thanks to the current air currents from eastern Canada. But if the Earth were to reverse, the air currents would blow from Siberia making the climate unusually cold. In fact, most European countries enjoy today’s softy climate, but with the Earth reversal, the winds caused by the air currents blowing from Russia in the north. Therefore they will be covered with snow all year round, and people will be seen chilling everywhere.
Changes in ocean currents caused by the rotation reverse of the Earth will also have an impact on coastal cities. For example, institutes of the Max-Planck Society also predicts that eastern Russia will become warmer. The reverse would theoretically make the east coast warmer than the colder western regions. It is also entirely possible that cold and wet areas such as Burma could be created. The average temperature in California would drop as a result. Los Angeles would also become another “New York”.
In addition, the experiment found that the reverse currents would also cause an explosion of cyanobacterial growth that would eventually spread across a large part of the Indian Ocean. So what is cyanobacteria? Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic bacteria that look like algae plants. In addition, several species of cyanobacteria have been shown to produce algal toxins.
This particular climate change may have adverse effects on human health, such as damaging the human skin nervous system and lungs, while causing people in coastal areas to be forced to evacuate inland. After systematic consideration, it is not only the human landscape that will change, but also the global economic structure that will change dramatically in just a few centuries. Although traditional transportation methods will be improved over time, changes in the trade winds will continue to directly affect shipping routes. Small towns, cities and even entire countries will develop a completely different climate than before, and the products and services they offer will be different than ever before.
For example, Italy, France and Spain, known for their viticulture, will suddenly find that they have lost their dominant position in wine exports as their climates become colder and they lose the good tourist environment for selling expensive wine. Some uncertainties, such as unknown problems like cyanobacterial toxins mentioned earlier, will create areas that are uninhabitable for humans, making mass migration of people to live and work elsewhere. Not only humans but also various existing ecosystems will be completely overturned. In addition, thousands of animals will either migrate on their own or be relocated to new homes by animal protection societies.
The same change will happen to plants, which will either follow climate change and migrate, or like animals living in the desert thrown into the rainforest. They will become either extinct due to non-adaptation. Even a small change in the environment will lead to a huge catastrophe and mass extinction. A reversed-rotation Earth would become completely different from what it used to be. The entire climate would change, the current climate would fall apart, and the surface landscape would be irreparably damaged. These changes will also revolutionize the way global trade, as global economies and even cultures will have to adapt to the shift from globalized cities to new ecosystems. We will see a global mass migration of species in an effort to cope with dramatic climate change. It may not be something we think about often, but the cyclical changes of the planet have been a part of human life in the past, present and future.