Global as well as local solutions to climate change entail a transformation in the way we think about planet Earth. We attain a fundamentally new understanding of our planet, when we recognize the atmosphere as forming an integral part of Earth. The radius of Earth extends to the top of the atmosphere. The planetary surface of Earth is the outermost, thinnest portion of the atmosphere, interfacing the vacuum of interplane-tary space. The Sun’s radiant energy enters the interior of the planet when it crosses the surface boundary at the top of the dayside atmosphere. In this system, climate and weather are fully integrated into the planet.
At present, our lives are modulated by the false supposition that the land and ocean surfaces constitute the planet’s surface. Without scientific evidence, the atmosphere is consigned to a space exterior to the planet. The atmosphere is thought to be just a covering. This incomplete understanding of planet Earth is rooted in the failure of scientists, until now, to physically integrate the atmosphere into the planet. Earth Sciences Project (ESP
) is the first to describe the atmosphere-integrated Earth model and to demonstrate elsewhere mathematically that Earth’s surface is located, not at mean sea level, but at the top of the atmosphere.
In 1989, ESP
was conducting rain forest canopy research, a hundred feet off the deck, in central Borneo, when we made the first observations of the global hydrologic cycle physically coupling the troposphere—the lower atmosphere—to the ocean and land masses. This discovery that Earth’s water cycle physically connects the troposphere to the planet immediately led us to formulate the following crucial hypothesis:
The radius of Earth must extend in height above the land and sea surfaces to include the entire hydrologic cycle—including all atmospheric cycling of water—under the planet’s actual surface boundary.
This revolutionary idea is water’s teaching. It says that, to measure the full extent of planet Earth, the tape measure has to be pulled up—past ground and sea level—and extended to the thundercloud’s clap in the sky. After a further decade of research in atmospheric physics and biogeochemistry, our results finally bore fruit in this deduction:
The entire volume of atmospheric gases forms an integral part of planet Earth.
Think, now, about how planet earth is presented by NASA
, by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and by all modern textbooks: They universally claim that the radius of earth extends to mean sea level; the land and sea surfaces are said to make up the planetary ‘surface.’ Standing upon the ground, we buy into the false notion of standing on earth’s surface. This is what all kids and grad students are taught in school.
In maintaining that the radius of earth extends only to mean sea level, scientists and policymakers are left with the dubious explanation that the atmosphere overhead is only a sort of ‘blanket,’ which surrounds the earth proper. The atmosphere is not considered part of the planet, but merely a covering. And it is just this sort of thinking which conveniently gives the fossil-fuel industry license to treat the atmosphere as a dumping ground for greenhouse gas emissions.
planetary model is innovative in transforming Earth’s atmosphere into an integral part of the planet’s composition and structure. The import of transfiguring the planet like this is to enlarge our vision of Earth and make it more inclusive. The model serves as a recipe for changing “surface-based,” anthropocentric views into more inclusive, biocentric views, where the entire biosphere is seen to be an interior volume of the planet, possessing simply-connected topology.
It is, indeed, a shift in paradigm to shift Earth’s radius and say that we reside, not on the surface of a rocky planet, but in the interior of an atmosphere-integrated Earth. Consider to what end making this paradigm shift leads us, in regards to the ordering of our human affairs:
By living and working, not on the surface, but within the interior of the planet, there comes the thunderbolt: Mother Earth physically and wholly embraces us. To conduct our lives inside the planet, enfolded within Mother Earth, is to realize being physically connected to weather and climate.
By integrating the atmosphere into the planet, ESP
specifically integrates climate forcing and weather severity into the interior of Earth. As things now stand, global greenhouse gases, once emitted into the atmosphere, are no longer part of earth. When a volcano erupts, the plume of ash and gases injected into the atmosphere is no longer attached to planet earth. Atmospheric CO2 from fossil fuels, once emitted from earth’s ‘surface’ into the atmosphere, can no longer be inside earth—can not be connected in any physical sense to the planet.
Here are several consequences. Climate modelers—sitting at their computers on the ‘surface’ of planet earth—can not possibly be connected, physically, to the very climate that they are modeling. They can not be connected as long as they operate under the assumption of doing climate science on the surface of a rocky planet, with the greenhouse gases circulating overhead, outside the planet. Similarly, climate change activists and policymakers—conducting their work on the ‘surface’ of planet earth—can not possibly be connected, physically, to the very climate whose anthropogenic change they are working to mitigate, because climate, by this logic, lies outside the ‘surface’ of the earth.
Earth model establishes our physical interconnectedness with the whole planetary system. What then sustains us in our daily lives is the commitment to embrace this physical connectedness in a manner which organically complements, as well as reinforces, our spiritual connectedness with Mother Earth. In so far as we take up residence in the planet’s interior, we become able to envision climate reality. And to the extent that we enlarge our vision and tune in to climate reality in the planet’s interior, Mother Earth will reciprocate, we believe, by enfolding us within herself and providing the wisdom and strength to live in harmony with Nature.