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New Scientist, the National Enquirer of pop science journalism, needs us to know that we do not inhabit the best of all possible worlds. Earth is not the exact right distance from the sun.

Anyone trying to grow bell peppers in Ottawa, Canada, knows this already. It’s curious how much pop science journalists need to on the one hand decry our earthly good fortune and on the other to proclaim disaster when anything humans do might upset the precious ecology.

See also: Privileged Planet.

There is something that "The Privileged Planet" did not consider- a planet's rotation also distributes the gases and particles in its atmosphere. Without a roation the gases would not be distributed around the planet and would most likely migrate to the poles. Joe
Regardless of where they were heading with their point, they make the fallacious assumption that the world we live in today is the same condition in which it first existed and/or in which it was first created. JGuy
semi OT: International team strengthens Big Bang Theory Jun 06, 2013 Excerpt: The fundamental observations that corroborate the Big Bang are the cosmic microwave radiation and the chemical abundances of the light elements described in the Big Bang nucleosynthesis theory. "The predictions of Big Bang nucleosynthesis have been one of the main successes of the standard Big Bang model," said lead author Lind. "Our findings remove much of the stark tension between 6Li and 7Li abundances in stars and standard BBN, even opening up the door for a full reconciliation. This further consolidates a model resting heavily on the pillars of the cosmic microwave background and the expanding Universe." http://phys.org/news/2013-06-international-team-big-theory.html#nwlt bornagain77
Pacific, A few notes to go with your article: Thank God for Jupiter - July 2010 Excerpt: The July 16, 1994 and July 19, 2009 collision events on Jupiter demonstrate just how crucial a role the planet plays in protecting life on Earth. Without Jupiter’s gravitational shield our planet would be pummeled by frequent life-exterminating events. Yet Jupiter by itself is not an adequate shield. The best protection is achieved via a specific arrangement of several gas giant planets. The most massive gas giant must be nearest to the life support planet and the second most massive gas giant the next nearest, followed by smaller, more distant gas giants. Together Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune provide Earth with this ideal shield. http://www.reasons.org/thank-god-jupiter Of Gaps, Fine-Tuning and Newton’s Solar System - Cornelius Hunter - July 2011 Excerpt: The new results indicate that the solar system could become unstable if diminutive Mercury, the inner most planet, enters into a dance with Jupiter, the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest of all. The resulting upheaval could leave several planets in rubble, including our own. Using Newton’s model of gravity, the chances of such a catastrophe were estimated to be greater than 50/50 over the next 5 billion years. But interestingly, accounting for Albert Einstein’s minor adjustments (according to his theory of relativity), reduces the chances to just 1%. http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2011/07/of-gaps-fine-tuning-and-newtons-solar.html Milankovitch Cycle Design - Hugh Ross - August 2011 Excerpt: In all three cases, Waltham proved that the actual Earth/Moon/solar system manifests unusually low Milankovitch levels and frequencies compared to similar alternative systems. ,,, Waltham concluded, “It therefore appears that there has been anthropic selection for slow Milankovitch cycles.” That is, it appears Earth was purposely designed with slow, low-level Milankovitch cycles so as to allow humans to exist and thrive. http://www.reasons.org/milankovitch-cycle-design Evidence from self-consistent solar system n-body simulations is presented to argue that the Earth- Moon system (EM) plays an important dynamical role in the inner solar system, stabilizing the orbits of Venus and Mercury by suppressing a strong secular resonance of period 8.1 Myr near Venus’s heliocentric distance. The EM thus appears to play a kind of “gravitational keystone” role in the terrestrial precinct, for without it, the orbits of Venus and Mercury become immediately destabilized. … First, we find that EM is performing an essential dynamical role by suppressing or “damping out” a secular resonance driven by the giant planets near the Venusian heliocentric distance. The source of the resonance is a libration of the Jovian longitude of perihelion with the Venusian perihelion longitude. http://iopscience.iop.org/1538-3881/116/4/2055/pdf/1538-3881_116_4_2055.pdf Astrobiology research is revealing the high specificity and interdependence of the local parameters required for a habitable environment. These two features of the universe make it unlikely that environments significantly different from ours will be as habitable. At the same time, physicists and cosmologists have discovered that a change in a global parameter can have multiple local effects. Therefore, the high specificity and interdependence of local tuning and the multiple effects of global tuning together make it unlikely that our tiny island of habitability is part of an archipelago. Our universe is a small target indeed. Astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez - P. 625, The Nature of Nature Among Darwin Advocates, Premature Celebration over Abundance of Habitable Planets - September 2011 Excerpt: Today, such processes as planet formation details, tidal forces, plate tectonics, magnetic field evolution, and planet-planet, planet-comet, and planet-asteroid gravitational interactions are found to be relevant to habitability.,,, What's more, not only are more requirements for habitability being discovered, but they are often found to be interdependent, forming a (irreducibly) complex "web." This means that if a planetary system is found not to satisfy one of the habitability requirements, it may not be possible to compensate for this deficit by adjusting a different parameter in the system. - Guillermo Gonzalez http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/09/among_darwin_advocates_prematu050871.html bornagain77
"there's only one planetary system that looks a lot like our own" http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2013/05/06/181613582/our-very-normal-solar-system-isn-t-normal-anymore Pacific
Life on earth could never exist were it not for a series of very fortunate “coincidences,” some of which were unknown or poorly understood until the 20th century. Those coincidences include the following: ? Earth’s location in the Milky Way galaxy and the solar system, as well as the planet’s orbit, tilt, rotational speed, and unusual moon ? A magnetic field and an atmosphere that serve as a dual shield ? Natural cycles that replenish and cleanse the planet’s air and water supply The article also speaks of "the habitable zone", which relates to Earth's position in space. Our “city,” or solar system, is located in the ideal region of the Milky Way galaxy—not too close to the center and not too far from it. This “habitable zone,” as scientists call it, contains just the right concentrations of the chemical elements needed to support life. “We live in prime real estate,” says Scientific American magazine. The ideal “street”: No less “prime” is earth’s “street,” or orbit within our solar system “city.” About 93 million miles [150 million km] from the sun, this orbit lies within a limited zone that is habitable because life neither freezes nor fries. Moreover, earth’s path is almost circular, keeping us roughly the same distance from the sun year-round. Earth’s perfect tilt and spin: Earth’s tilt of about 23.4 degrees causes the annual cycle of seasons, moderates temperatures, and allows for a wide range of climate zones. “Our planet’s tilt axis seems to be ‘just right,’” says the book Rare Earth—Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe. Even if they didn't find a "twin" Earth in this galaxy, what happened to the exciting field of terraforming? Barb
"WE LIVE in the best of all possible worlds. This much-lampooned idea originated in the early 18th century, when the German polymath Gottfried Leibniz was pondering what sort of world a benevolent God would make." And only a minor god would have positioned the Earth incorrectly, we can't have that ! Chimera

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