Cinemas are currently screening a film that has attracted the interest of the whole world: "The Day After Tomorrow."
The Day After Tomorrow is based on a "global catastrophe," an issue which is frequently debated and the subject of many screenplays.
To give a brief summary of the subject matter of the film:
Research into global warming by the climatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) indicates that the Earth will soon experience a new climate. Hall witnesses an iceberg the size of Rhode Island break away from the Antarctic ice pack. Following this, odd reports regarding the climate begin coming in from all over the world. Hailstones the size of grapefruits fall on Tokyo, a gale of record speeds begins blowing in Hawaii, snow falls in New Delhi, and tornadoes blow up in Los Angeles. Professor Rapson, Hall's colleague, phones from Scotland to confirm that their worst fear has become reality. He says that the recent climate change has actually become a global one. The melting ice is depositing more water in the oceans than there should be, and the world climate is changing. Global warming is dragging our planet towards a new Ice Age. This change will come about as the result of a single massive storm. Everyone apart from Jack Hall, who tries to reach his son in New York, begins to flee southwards away from the freezing death the new climate brings with it ...
More than being just a screenplay, this film, which deals with a climatologist's predictions suddenly coming true, actually portrays a likely environmental catastrophe. The melting of the ice packs; larger than normal hailstones; changes greater than "normal" in the climatic balance; extreme drought; heavy rains or unexpected cold; various natural events observed in the world ... The Day After Tomorrow depicts a terrible disruption of the balance of nature and its striking effects on human life, accompanied by magnificent special effects.
One would expect anyone with reason and conscience to think in some detail about the present "perfect balance of nature."
God created the Earth on which we live and the entire universe to be ideally suited to life. When this balance, maintained with miraculous precision, is disrupted then life on Earth will head towards disaster, just as portrayed in the film. Let us now recall some examples of this magnificent equilibrium.
The Earth: The Magnificent Planet
In contrast to all its neighbours in the Solar System, the Earth is a planet teeming with life. There is an exceedingly harmonious balance of life in the sky, on the land and in the sea. Millions of kinds of animals, plants, insects or marine life forms, all with their own very different structures, colors and features, live together on this very special planet. The survival of the life created on Earth is a great miracle. This continuity is ensured by very special conditions adapted to life. The slightest alteration in these conditions could lead to terrible catastrophes on the Earth. However, no such catastrophe takes place in the absence of any outside intervention. The Blue Planet has been created in a miraculous manner, with a precision capable of supporting all the living things on it, with an infinite number of special characteristics.
The Earth's Distance from the Sun
If the Earth were as far from the Sun as Venus or Saturn are, then there could be no temperature balance to make life possible. The temperature range that permits life is a very narrow one in the giant temperature range in the universe as a whole. Our Earth is located exactly within that narrow spectrum.
The Special Distribution of Heat on Earth
The Earth's ideal temperature, the balanced distribution of heat over the planet, is of vital importance. Various special precautions have been taken to maintain that balance. The Earth's 23° 27´ angle of tilt prevents excessive temperature differences between the Poles and the Equator. Were it not for that tilt, the temperature difference between the Poles and the Equator would rise considerably and the existence of an atmosphere capable of sustaining life would become impossible. Land forms also assist in balanced temperature distribution. There is a temperature difference of around 100o C between the Equator and the Poles. Were such a temperature difference to come about on an Earth without considerable surface irregularities, then storms blowing at up to 1,000 km/hour would wreak devastation on Earth. The fact is, however, that the Earth's uneven surface prevents violent air currents that might be caused by such a temperature difference.
The Earth Is Specially Protected
The atmosphere that surrounds the Earth performs a vital function for the survival of life. It melts and destroys meteors, large and small, that approach the planet and prevents them falling to ground and inflicting harm on living things.
In addition, the atmosphere filters out harmful rays from space. The most striking aspect of this feature of the atmosphere is the way that it only permits harmless rays, in other words visible light, infra-red rays and radio waves, to pass through it. All these rays are essential for life. For example, the ultraviolet rays that are permitted to pass through at specific levels are of great importance to plants in making photosynthesis, and thus to the survival of all living things. Neither are the protective characteristics of the atmosphere limited to these. It is thanks to the atmosphere that the Earth is protected from the average -270o C freezing cold of space.
It is not only the atmosphere that protects the Earth from harm. The "Van Allen Belts," a layer stemming from the Earth's magnetic field, act like a shield in protecting our planet from harmful rays. These rays, constantly emitted by the Sun and other planets, are lethal to human beings. In particular, the explosions of energy in the Sun, known as "solar bursts," would be powerful enough to destroy all life on Earth were it not for the Van Allen Belts. In the Qur'an God draws attention to this protective feature of the sky:
We made the sky a preserved and protected roof yet still they turn away from Our Signs. (Qur'an, 21: 32)
The Measure in Rain
Another instance of the perfect equilibrium on earth is "the measure in rain." Measurements show that 16 million tons of water evaporates from Earth every second. This means 505 trillion tons a year. This is also the amount of rain that falls on Earth. In other words, water is in a constant cycle "in a specific measure," and in constant equilibrium. Life on Earth owes its continuity to this water cycle. Even if mankind used all the technical resources at its disposal it could never artificially replicate this cycle.
Even the slightest variation in this quantity would shortly lead to a major ecological imbalance and to the end of life. Yet nothing of the kind ever happens; rain continues to fall in the same quantities every year, as revealed in the Qur'an:
It is He who sends down water in due measure from the sky by which We bring a dead land back to life. That is how you too will be brought forth. (Qur'an, 43: 11)
The well-known American astronomer Hugh Ross summarizes some of the other balances on Earth:
- If stronger: atmosphere would retain too much ammonia and methane
- If weaker: planet's atmosphere would lose too much water
Thickness of crust;
- if thicker: too much oxygen would be transferred from the atmosphere to the crust
- if thinner: volcanic and tectonic activity would be too great
-If longer: diurnal temperature differences would be too great
-If shorter: atmospheric wind velocities would be too great
Ozone level in Atmosphere;
- if greater: surface temperature would be too low
- if less: surface temperatures would be too high; there would be too much uv radiation at the surface
- if greater: too many life-forms would be destroyed
- if less: nutrients on ocean floors (from river runoff) would not be recycled to the continents through tectonic uplift.(1)
This magnificent balance and all the living things on Earth are proof of God's existence and of His art of creation. The slightest disruption to this balance will mean a chain reaction of catastrophes, as depicted in films. Every rational person concerned about "The Day After Tomorrow" must stop to think about this wondrous equilibrium.
People are invited to consider this in a verse from the Qur'an:
It is God Who created the heavens with no support - you can see them - and cast firmly embedded mountains on the earth so that it would not move under you, and scattered about in it creatures of every kind. And We send down water from the sky and make every generous species grow in it. This is God's creation. (Qur'an, 31: 10-11)
1. Hugh Ross, The Fingerprint of God: Recent Scientific Discoveries Reveal the Unmistakable Identity of the Creator, Oranga, California, Promise Publishing, 1991, p 129-132