What If Earth Spun the Other Way?

[♩INTRO] Most of us don’t think about it much, but
we’re all spinning really fast. The Earth is rotating us all from west to
east at about 1600 kilometers an hour. But what if it spun the other way? If this was a sudden change, we’d all probably
die from being flung into the nearest wall at hundreds of kilometers an
hour. Total bummer. But if you look at what would happen if the
Earth had always rotated fro east to west, the answer starts to get much
more interesting. And yes, scientists have totally looked into
this. The seasons wouldn’t change, since that’s
based on how Earth’s tilted, but it turns out the climate would be very
different in a way that would probably have changed
the course of history. Just like sunrise and sunset would reverse
direction, the motion of stuff on the planet would, too. That includes both winds and ocean gyres,
or loops of current. This is because of the Coriolis effect, where the path of something moving on another,
spinning object will curve. As it is right now, Earth’s spin causes
winds and water flowing northward from the equator to take a big clockwise curve at least from our perspective here on Earth. For example, on our world the Gulf Stream
Current carries warm water up to the northeast Atlantic, and the Jet
Stream winds carry water, in the form of clouds, from Canada to the
UK and Ireland. Flip things around, and suddenly western Europe
gets significantly colder. One study from 2008 found the UK and Scandinavia
would have cooled by about 10 degrees – but also that the Mediterranean
Sea becomes almost freshwater due to an enormous increase in
rainfall in North Africa. At the European Geosciences Union’s 2018
General Assembly, researchers presented even more possible changes
based on a computer simulation of Earth spinning backwards for
7000 years. What was once the Sahara and Middle Eastern
desert became covered entirely in grasses and forests. The Australian Outback wasn’t as dry, either. Earth’s major deserts got transferred to
a significant chunk of what would have been the Amazon rainforest, part of northern
China, and the southeast United States. With smaller areas of desert and more trees
to act as carbon sinks, the simulation showed a global average temperature
drop of about 0.2 degrees. That might not sound like a lot, but it doesn’t
take much for a global temperature change to have a significant effect
on the climate. And finally, the reversed water current caused a significant drop in oxygen deep in
the ocean. That led to a bloom of cyanobacteria, which
is really algae, in the Indian Ocean. They surged to a population basically never
seen among algal blooms on our west-to-east rotating Earth. As for how 7,000 years of these climates would
have changed history, it’s almost impossible to tell. But studies like these give us some idea of
just how much of our history was driven by the simple fact that Earth rotates
from west to east. Thanks to Patreon patron Ennis Abel for asking
this question! And thanks to all of our patrons for their
support. We love looking into unexpectedly fascinating
questions like this one, and we wouldn’t be able to do it without
your help. If you have a question you’d like to submit, you can join our community over at patreon.com/scishow. [♩OUTRO]

100 thoughts on “What If Earth Spun the Other Way?”

  1. I had honestly expected it to be of little difference, but I don't science as hard as you guys can lol. That was pleasantly surprising!

  2. Before civilization, earth wasn't much different than all that, forest-coverage-wise speaking. We had open forests and savannahs in where we have deserts today, and much of that is fault of civilization

  3. Nooooooo, don't fall for the "what if "trends. You're the best science channel out there.
    Please, stick to science.
    There's enough science fiction on you tube
    I want real science, please

  4. i am a muslim and we believe when we go back to god(the judgement day)the the sun would rise from the west an set from the east and all the deserts would become lush like a jungle .(I am not trying to start a debt just saying my opinion and am not saying that you should believe in this just saying something..

  5. What if the earth was actually spinning the other way around and reversed somehow.
    and that is the reason why ancient egypt was a tropical oasis and is now a desert.

  6. If the Earth had been spinning the other way, would that have influenced the formation of our continents? If so, it would be an unrecognizable Earth.

  7. Wait, how can a different climate lead to different history? Crash Course Human Geography taught me it is racist to assume that cultures are influenced by their environment.
    Victorious civilizations are just inherently evil.
    (Yes, sarcasm)

  8. 7000 years? That sounds like something the ICR would publish from their den of iniquity at Royal and Luna. Behind the "spa" district.

  9. A freshwater Mediterranean would mean drastic change to human civilisation -rather than having to base themselves around rivers; they would be able build and farm anywhere.

  10. 1. Find Superman.
    2. Invent time travel or find Flash
    3. Go back in time with both of them.
    4. Reverse the earth's rotation.
    5. ???
    6. Profit (or loss because it is already sounding like another terrible superhero crossover movie)

  11. You guys should do a video on planet x/planet 9/nibiru/whatever you want to call it.
    It's an interesting topic, would get a ton of views, and it would be nice to see a video on the idea from a source separate from religious/conspiracy theorists (even if that is tied in).

  12. Did you forget to mention the day would be way longer and we might be another venus? Or was that not mentioned for a reason?

  13. You miss that if it had always spun the other way around, well "always" is long enough that you also have to consider the coriolis effect in the mantle being different would have resulted in completely different continents.

  14. Well we know for sure that if earth changed direction, the sun would rise from the West and set to the East, then Khal Drogo would be reunited with Khaleesi.

  15. As a kid I always hoped if we could make the earth spin the other way we could go back in time. I even wrote an article about it in 6th grade but the teacher didn't let it be published in the school magazine :3

  16. If the earth continues to spin in the current direction, But rotates upside down, it would then change east for west without interrupting the centrifugal force as we experience them today. Likely the moon would also follow.

  17. Wouldn't the days be a slightly different length too? Like, a year would still be the same amount of time, but the number of days in the year would differ by two days depending on rotation direction.

  18. The first thing I thought when I saw this title was, Then the Globe that was on the daily show wouldn't have been going to wrong way.

  19. Now that is very interesting if the Earth did not rotate in the opposite direction that would be really neat if it did let me see if I could think of a couple of things what happened let's say to the United States the East Coast would be like that of the West Coast with mild Winters and temperate climates and the West Coast like California Oregon and Washington would have very severe Winters and lots of rainfall now that would solve the water shortage in the state of California all together and as for the homeless population they would be in places like from Florida all the way up to the Carolinas living there instead of being out here in the West Coast now let's see what else can I think of how about the clocks now will the clocks run backwards now will the Hurricanes be so severe along Southern California down to Baja like it is in Florida and the gulf coast states and the times let's say California time would be 12 p.m. in the afternoon and New York time would be 3 in the afternoon this raises some very curious questions if the Earth rotated in reverse.

  20. What if earth flipped upside down along the poles, but still rotated the same way? Assuming the change was instant and no apocalyptic forces happened… Antarctica is now at the north pole, and the Arctic Ocean is now the south pole. What would change?

  21. How it would have changed history? Really? A butterfly can change things so they're unrecognizable in very little time. This is a nonsensical question.

  22. Interesting video SciShow! I’m would like to learn more about how the universe is both expanding and a hologram at the same time and how that fits in with the world as we know it including the laws of physics that govern everything.

  23. Completely missing in this analysis is the evolution of mankind: they still would have chopped most of the woodlands, so the projected dessert fraction of the eath's surface seems to be hugely underestimated…

  24. I really hope tax money wasn't used for that study. I mean, why would we want to spend money to investigate something that can't possibly happen?

  25. The study only covered 7000 years and used our current land placement, if the earth spun backwards from the beginning, im sure the landmasses wouldnt be anything like they are today.

  26. Yes, all things would be backwards, I'd say most of the species on earth today may not have developed if the change in the earth sea currents were drastically different…

  27. This sort of stuff is fun to think about for a little while, but why would there ever be actual studies or money spent into researching what the effects would be like. Waste of time and money in my opinion.

  28. Here's a question who decided which way the earth was facing. For example take a globe and turn it up side down, from that perspective the south pole would be come north and south north.

  29. Hi friends, if you are interested in some educational/science based content please check out our channel launch and let us know what you think!

  30. The Sahara was wet many thousands of years ago, and the Egyptians have some sort of legends about the sun rising where it now sets.

  31. This is going to happen and has been told by Our Prophet Mohamed(PBUH) 1440 years ago.. https://youtu.be/64ca2GSMYIw

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