It would be hell. The days would be 48 times longer. During the night, the temperatures would freeze everyone to death. Throughout the day, no one could stand the heat. On the coast, extremely violent winds of 200 km/h would be a common breeze.
Any signs of life? There would be almost nothing left but super-resistant bacteria and worms. All this shows how dependent the Earth is on this barren ball of minerals we call the Moon. Just to give you an idea, before the satellite started orbiting our planet, a day lasted between six and eight hours.
Since then, interaction with the Moon has slowed down the planet’s rotation. By celestial mechanics, this happens as the satellite moves away, and it was once very close.
More than 4 billion years ago, it is estimated that the Moon was only 25,000 kilometers from Earth and the planet’s rotation speed gradually decreased as it moved away. About 3 billion years ago, the length of the day had already jumped to 18 hours.
But don’t think that our 24-hour day will last forever. The Moon continues to drift away, now at a faster rate than before, at a rate of 3.8 centimeters per year. And when you get far enough away, life on Earth will be as you read at the beginning of this text.
But don’t worry: first, this eternal end times will take at least 4 billion years to happen. Second, this chaotic scenario will probably have no witnesses, because in about 1 billion years, the Sun will be 10% hotter and that will be enough to fry any form of life here. For what you will see below to happen, only if the Moon were to stray all at once, overnight.
Today, the Moon is 384,000 kilometers from Earth. At this distance, the satellite exerts a great influence on the length of the earth’s day, with its 24 hours, in addition to acting on the rise and fall of ocean tides.
In a long time, however, this situation will change, the Moon is moving away from us about 3.8 centimeters per year and in 4.6 billion years, when our satellite is about 560 thousand kilometers, Earth will become uninhabitable.
The main effect of lunar removal is that the planet’s rotation will slow down, with that, the days will last 1,152 hours, messing up the planet’s climate and preventing life.
Rain on the Coast
The temperature at the poles would be unaffected by longer days and nights—such periods will continue to last six months at these places, as they do today.
The difference is that the temperature in tropical areas would increase at a rate that is impossible to predict today.
What is certain is that the shocks of the cold air masses with the extremely hot ones would create storms capable of leaving coastal cities like Rio de Janeiro or New York underwater.
If the rotation decreases, the east-west winds, which generate much of the rain in Brazil, lose intensity, as it is the Earth’s rotation that gives them strength.
As the north-south winds would predominate, the storms that start with the evaporation of sea water would have difficulty entering the continents. As a result, inland regions such as the Brazilian Midwest would become much drier.
Scientists have two hypotheses about what the weather would be like during the 576-hour night.
The first is that the part of the planet that remains in the dark will experience polar temperatures, around -30 degrees centigrade.
The second is that evaporation in the illuminated part could create monster clouds up to 100 kilometers high. They would hold the sun’s heat, warming the dark part by greenhouse effect. This is exactly what happens on Venus, where the night lasts 2,916 hours and the temperature hovers around 400 degrees centigrade.
Lives in Danger
Hot or cold, rain or drought, life would be practically extinct.
No plant or seaweed, for example, could last 576 hours without sunlight. That alone would destroy any food chain.
The only beings that would certainly endure would be bacteria and worms that already live in extreme conditions, like at the bottom of the oceans, under pressure a thousand times greater than that on the surface and without ever having seen the Sun. The world would be theirs alone.