Clouds function as earth’s curtains, balancing the temperature. When they form, they block the sun when the temperature on earth becomes too hot, and they let the sunlight in when it becomes too cold. When the earth is hot, more water evaporates from the oceans and turns into clouds. These clouds reflect more energy and the earth cools. When the earth is cold, the clouds cool and condense into rain and snow. With fewer clouds, less energy is reflected. The energy reaches the earth and warms it. The earth has the most diverse collection of reflective surfaces in our solar system.

Water is the most abundant chemical compound on earth. Water covers three fourths of the earth’s surface. Between half to three fourths of your body is water. Water is ideal for carbon-based chemistry.

Water is transported from the ocean to the atmosphere, to the land, and then back to the ocean. The ocean is the primary storehouse of water on the earth. The sun evaporates water from the oceans, which rises into the atmosphere and eventually returns to the ocean.

The atmosphere also stores a small quantity of water. Wind blows water vapor from the hot ocean to the cool land. Cooling water vapor condenses into clouds. Water falls back to the land as rain and snow.

The land also stores water. Fresh water is held for months in ice and snow. Water infiltrates into the land and is stored underground. Surface water flows into streams and rivers. Lakes store water. Water flows from the land back into the ocean.

Water expands when it freezes, unlike most other substances. Ice and snow take up more volume than the same amount of liquid water. This makes water denser as a liquid than when frozen, so ice floats on the surface. If ice did not float on the surface of the water, the floors of oceans and lakes would be covered with glaciers of ice that never melt. Ice helps regulate the climate by reflecting energy.

As a liquid, water’s temperature range is perfect for cycling water from the oceans to the land. Water takes a lot of energy to evaporate into a vapor, and it releases this energy when it condenses back into liquid. This absorbtion and release of energy balances temperatures in the earth’s climate, as well as inside living cells. If less energy were required for evaporation, streams, rivers, and lakes would evaporate away quickly.

Beautiful clouds and sunsets inspire praise for the Creator who forms them. We are blessed by the water that flows though our biosphere.

Additional Resources

Evangelicals and Global Warming

A formal debate between Dr. David P. Gushee and Dr. E. Calvin Beisner

Although the political buzzword has been modified to “climate change” and it has gotten little media attention lately, you can be sure that “global warming” has not been forgotten. There is much more behind this seemingly “environmental” concern than first meets the eye; it is really a battle of worldviews, not “scientific facts.” And while not everyone agrees that the increase in global temperature is significant or human-induced or will necessarily lead to catastrophic climate change, it is important for Christians to be informed about what the Bible has to say about the issue. To this end, Union University sponsored a formal debate between two premier evangelical scholars.

On one side is Dr. David P. Gushee, Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy and one of the drafters of the Evangelical Climate Initiative. On the other is Dr. E. Calvin Beisner, one of the authors of A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming and associate professor of historical theology and social ethics at Knox Theological Seminary. He is also one of the founders of The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, a leading advocacy group for biblically-based environmental stewardship using sound science and economics and putting humanity’s needs, especially those of the poor, first. Christians owe it to themselves, their families, their futures, and most importantly their Lord to be proper stewards of the earth and its resources. But they also need to be careful that their stewardship concerns do not cause them to elevate the creature above the Creator.

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