The Planet Earth is an incredibly improbable “coincidence”, assuming you believe in such things. The more that we learn about the universe and life, the more we learn how we are a statistical near-impossibility. There are a growing number of people in various sciences and disciplines that are thinking it’s more likely that we are alone in the universe than not. The Fermi Paradox or Drake Equation are relevant. Some of the factors involved in that statistical improbability, which are required for our species to exist on earth, include:
– Earth’s position in the just-right orbit of our star. A bit closer and we’d fry. A bit further and we’d freeze.
– Earth-like tectonic plates haven’t been detected on any of the many planets we have so far observed. The more planets we detect, the more unique we appear.
– Our abnormally large moon – a planetoid really – keeps the ocean tides moving, helps stabilize our tilted axis, and works together with the tectonic plates to keep us relatively stable.
– The amazing good fortune of having Jupiter, a wanna-be-never-ignited-star, as a Gas Giant in the right orbit with massive gravity to suck up a lot of the incoming projectiles that could wipe us out. The Asteroid belt is coincidentally useful in that protective role as well. It hasn’t always worked perfectly (ask the dinos) but it’s a very effective shield for us against cosmic catastrophe.
– Being far enough from the highly radiated Galatic Core in the relative quiet suburbs of our galaxy.
– Having a nice stable star of the right size in the main sequence part of its life that is likely to continue for another billion years or so. There are plenty of stars out there that wouldn’t be near as hospitable.
– A wonderful mix of the right minerals, hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and other good stuff is necessary for us.
And those are just a few that come to mind after listening to a podcast on existential threats to Earth. There are many more and I could go. The point of the podcast, based on the work of an Oxford University Professor Nick Bostom and his Future of Humanity Institute, is that we need to take our responsibility to keep life alive here, for one reason, because we may be all there is in the universe. The podcast was interesting and I enjoyed it, while not endorsing everything he said or his conclusions. But it did get me thinking about how unique our planet is and how some of the more simple explanations don’t really pass the smell test (for me) like the Anthropic Principle. But I’ll get into philosophical weeds and multiverse theory if I don’t stop now. So I’ll leave it at this – we have a miraculous existence. Draw your own conclusions.