December 30, 2014 Steve Sabz
Global warming concept image (Photo by kwest)

Global warming concept image (Photo by kwest)

Will our planet ever exhaust its ability to sustain life?

For this is what the Lord says - he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited - he says: "I am the Lord, and there is no other."

The prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 45:18 (circa 740-700 B.C.)

If the passage above is true concerning the habitability of the earth, we should find examples of living organisms in all ecosystems and temperature extremes. Even more, we should find evidence of life returning to areas previously decimated by catastrophic events.

Life in the most extreme environments

Terrestrial ecosystems cover roughly 30% of the earth's surface and are divided into four subtypes: forest, grassland, mountain, and desert. The first three ecosystems (i.e., forest, grassland, and mountain) are well known for their hospitality to a multitude of organisms. The fourth subtype, deserts, occupy about 17% of the earth's landmass. Regardless of extremely high temperatures (above 130 °F ) and minute rainfall (less than 10 inches per year), deserts are home to a vast array of wild life, including a population of 1 billion humans. In fact, ancient people such as the Egyptians, Hebrews, and Arabs thrived in the desert for thousands of years. Furthermore, the Sahara, Thar and Cholistan deserts of Africa, India and Pakistan respectively, have experienced dramatic changes in climate over thousands of years. Most of the earth's deserts will likewise trade dryness for milder, moister climates and vice versa.

Aquatic ecosystems occupy approximately 70% of the earth's surface and include two subgroups: marine and freshwater. Both environments present an amazing diversity of sea creatures. What is more, it was only in the last century that marine biologists discovered living organisms thriving in a previously unknown ecosystem based on toxic gas. For example, expeditions in 1976 to depths of 2,700 meters revealed "a completely unexpected community of life." New species were discovered flourishing in aphotic ecosystems consisting of hydrothermal vents where temperatures exceed 248 °F.

Again in December 2014, scientists discovered a new species of fish living in the extreme conditions of the Mariana Trench, the world's deepest stretch of water located in the Pacific Ocean with a maximum known depth of 36,000 feet.

Life after catastrophic events

The largest oil spill in history occurred in January 1991 during the US invasion of Kuwait. Between five and ten million barrels of oil poured into the Persian Gulf and devastated marine wild life. Despite the catastrophe, German and Saudi researchers reported that fish and bird populations returned to pre-spill levels only three years later. The study also found that whale, dolphin and turtle populations were for the most part unaffected. About half of the oil disappeared from the water by evaporation and degradation by marine bacteria, further testifying to nature's resilience.

What they found, and they've found in other places in the world, is that nature does recover. Marine specialist Nicolas Pilcher in Lessons learned from the largest oil spill in history  (June 4, 2010)

Scientists Carl Sagan and Richard Turco warned that the burning of Kuwaiti oil wells would result in a catastrophic environmental impact similar to the 1815 explosion of the Tambora volcano in Indonesia, which included global cooling and crop failure in the surrounding area the following year killing 80,000 people. Fortunately, their dire predictions did not manifest.

In April 1986 the worst nuclear disaster in history, the explosion of reactor No. 4, occurred in Chernobyl, Ukraine. The International Atomic Energy Agency estimated that the blast was 400 times more potent than the Hiroshima bomb. In order to isolate the radioactivity, an Exclusion Zone was created that measured approximately 1,000 square miles. Amazingly, it is now the largest wildlife refuge in Europe.

... the Exclusion Zone looks like an idyllic dream. Buildings are overgrown with greenery; butterflies flutter above parking lots turned into wildflower meadows; lizards scurry over the rusting signs; packs of wolves roam freely. One begins to wonder if humans were more destructive to animals than radioactivity. IBT writer Avedis Hadjian in (Wild)Life In A Nuclear Wasteland: 28 Years After the Chernobyl Disaster  (April 26 2014)

Wolves thrive inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone (Photo by Sergey Gaschak)Wolves thrive inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone (Photo by Sergey Gaschak)

Human populations rebound

Wars, diseases affecting both plants (e.g., blight) and humans (e.g., plague), floods, fires, volcanic eruptions, asteroids, have claimed millions of lives in ancient and modern times. Although human populations incur a substantial loss as a result, demographics gradually return to and exceed pre-calamitous levels.

Thus, it seems that the word of God as recorded in the Bible has prevailed. Man's ingenuity and nature's instability have not been able to thwart God's intention for a habitable earth. An assortment of living organisms flourish in the most unexpected and extreme environments. Wildlife soon return to their natural habitats even after a catastrophe. Human populations rebound. Furthermore, cosmologists calculate that the earth will continue to dwell within its habitable zone (i.e., a comfortable, life-supporting distance from the sun) for another 1.75 billion years. By that time, God will have created "a new heaven and a new earth" that will remain for eternity (Revelation 21:1-5).

Sabz, S. (2014, December 30). Desolate earth? Retrieved from

Steve Sabz

Steve Sabz

Steve Sabz is the author and founder of Science and Bible Research. He is a professional educator with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Physiology from William Paterson University,  where he also completed graduate level courses in Human Physiology and Endocrinology. Currently, Steve is pursuing a Master of Arts in Systematic Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary.  Steve is also the author of Evolution's Complexity Problem: See How Evolution Falls Apart At Its Beginning and End Time Rewind: An Exploration In Bible Prophecy And The Fate Of The World.