The Sun and Us

Night and day, the seasons. The earth is at a 23.5 degree tilt, no small departure from a straight up and down orientation. This tilt is responsible for the earth’s seasons. Many people seem to know this, but do they know why? Especially in a place like Miami, where the seasons are not as exaggerated as more northern areas of the world, do people know why the tilt of the earth should be responsible for the four seasons—winter, spring, summer and fall? And does it seem merely coincidental that the days are longest in the summer and shortest in the winter? While it may seem incidental, it is actually causal, for the change in season is directly proportional to the amount of sunlight in a given area. And because the earth is on a tilt, one hemisphere, the one oriented toward the sun for part of the year, gets more sunlight and has summer while the rest of the planet has winter. And it is hotter and there is more life because plants are getting more sunlight and can afford to put out leaves and fruits unlike their southern cousins, who shed their leaves as part of a different strategy for survival. Explanations make the natural world seem magical. I think causal chains are greatly satisfying, even if I were not curious in the first place about these taken-for-granted natural phenomena.

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