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What Happens if All the Mountains on Earth Were Removed?

Ms. Inglish has 30 years experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.

"When you reach the top of the mountain, climb higher." - Asian Proverb.

"When you reach the top of the mountain, climb higher." - Asian Proverb.

Without mountains and plants, we have no atmosphere.

What if all the mountains of Earth were removed?

This is a popular question given to geography and creative writing students as an essay assignment, but it is not unimportant. Serious consequences would result form a removal of Earth's mountains.

From 2000 - 2020, the scientists researching and developing products in the sectors of Climate Change and Space Exploration are not concentrating on mountains and the part they play on Earth in providing the terrain necessary for plant life and, hence, all life to flourish here. Without mountains and plants, we have no atmosphere (see related discussion below).

Without mountains on our planet, we would lose our trees and our other plant life - beginning with the trees and moving down that chain of living things.

Then we would lose air.

The environment in Glacier Bay National Park shows a clear chain of development from primitive mosses to through old growth spruce forests -- Might this not yield an answer to finding solutions to climate change and creating air on Mars? Might we plant mosses in our deserts to support other plant life?

What Might Survive Without Mountains?

If all of the mountains and mountain ranges were removed from the Earth, their removal would produce some dramatic effects on this planet's weather. Areas that were protected from severe storms and extreme weather arising from global weather systems trapped behind mountain would suffer from the weather changes, perhaps even weather disasters.

The areas behind the mountains that had suffered from those storms would not be affected as much. The desert regions in front of mountains, desperately thirsting for rain, would have plenty of water if storms were allowed past those mountains. However, that could be destructive.

How can more water possibly harm a desert?

A desert deluge would result in a substantial amount of water runoff, with resulting erosion. Torrents of water would not soak into the ground to make plants grow faster and taller. Rushing waters do not stop to take the time to germinate a seed that has lain dormant.

In some styles of Tae Kwon Do, a form pattern ("kata" in Japanese) is named "Rushing Water."

Students of this form learn the positive and negative effects of the power of rushing water.

When you stand beside the Mississippi River in Missouri and Louisiana, it looks as though Old Man River is moving very slowly, because it is very wide and the water flowing against a wide visual field looks slow.

However, if you fall in, you find out quickly how fast it is moving.

Alternately, if an object like a tree falls into the Mississippi and you see it going by, then you can realize some of the speed that the Mississippi possesses. Speed here also means power.

Rushing water can possibly save a desert if it can soak into the ground and nurture new plants. Rushing water can also destroy New Orleans.

Mountains and Meaning

This all means that the desert could become more barren instead of more full of greenery and life - that is, if copious amounts of rain were allowed though.

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Some engineering and landscaping measures would need to be taken in order to stop the water runoff and direct the water into the underground water table. Most likely, more plants and trees would have to be planted first in the desert and then irrigated substantially before nearby mountains could be safely removed.

Otherwise, the onslaught of rain, hail, snow and other precipitation would wash away the arid soils, the sands, finally coming down to bedrock. Even that would be eroded over the decades as well and the soils around the desert would be pushed back by the rushing water runoff. Bedrock would appear more frequently over more parts of the globe. That bedrock would be ground away by storms. The Earth would become smaller and smaller and without plants, it would lose its atmosphere.

People would die off.

The world would become a lifeless rock.

If the mountains were all removed from the Earth after they have stood and influenced the weather for millennia, we would see increasing climate and weather disasters on a continuing major scale. The planet would most likely become desert, and then rock, lose its atmosphere, freeze, and become devoid of most life. Some anaerobic bacteria might survive.

Will Earth Become Cold and Dry Like Mars?

Where Did Mars’ Atmosphere Go – And Is Earth Next? Ben Burress, Chabot Space & Science Center. November 13, 2015.

Mr. Burress reports that NASA has decided that the Martian atmosphere was blown into space by solar wind particles. These particles form plasma and magnetic fields. To shorten a long story, Mars does not have magnetic fields like Earth's, so the atmosphere cannot stick on Mars.

In Kim Stanley Robinson's well researched Red Mars trilogy, he promoted a view that says in order to create those magnetic fields around Mars, we must bombard Mars with asteroids to break up the center of its rocky mass with hopes of making it volcanic and able to spin inside the Red Planet. That is going to be a big job, but our Asteroid Miners may be able to accomplish it..

Pine Trees. A National Treasure of Japan.

Pine Trees. A National Treasure of Japan.

Some Global Effects

Mental Health

Before the death of Earth, humanity would suffer increasing anxiety and fear with the increasing hardships caused by extreme weather, extreme hot and cold temperatures spearing across continental regions. Increases in the rates of mental health concerns would rise, including depression/suicide, substance abuse, and cases of multiple disorders (co-occurring). Violence might increase.


If the mountains were suddenly removed, what would happen to the mountain climbers and Olympic skiers? From whence would their personal challenges come? Possibly from surviving the new bad weather, or swimming in the upcoming floods.

The Arts

Without mountains, we would have no more Mt. Everest or Mt. Fuji. Writers, poets, and artists would only be able to write and paint about the mountain that is no longer there. How sad. Plaques and landscape portraits would be placed in commemoration on the sites where these mountains once stood. The plaques would then be washed away by floods.

During the massive death tolls caused by the flooding and the loss of food in ever-spreading deserts and increased heat, certain science fiction writers would compose stories about a planet that grew mountains.

There is already a story written in the first part of the 20th century in which Mankind uses up all the resources of Earth, so the world government uses heavy machinery to scrape a layer of the planet up from time to time over the centuries to mine it for its energy and food producing components. This goes on for so long that future generations do not even know why the Earth is becoming smaller - they don't connect it with the mining.

Chinese Landscape. A National Treasure of Japan.

Chinese Landscape. A National Treasure of Japan.

Faith and Greed

For those interested, what about Noah's Ark, proclaimed by some scientists to be lodged on Mt. Ararat? Let's say it's there -- Before disaster swept it away in the weather resulting from mountain disappearances, some merchants might hack it up to sell its small pieces for high prices.

Mountains figure largely in culture and scriptural references among nations and all that would be lost as well with the disappearance of mountains:

Mt. Ararat

Mt. Ararat

Earth needs its mountains, its plants, and its animals of all kinds in order to support life at all, including human life.

The Bible

Matthew 17:20 NKJV:

So Jesus said to them, "... for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you"

Joel 2:1 "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand"

The Koran:

SURAT II. The Cow.

60. Call to mind also when We entered into a covenant with you, and lifted up the mountain over you:--"Take hold," said We, "on what We have revealed to you, with resolution, and remember what is therein, that ye may fear:"


The Religion of the Samurai,

Kaiten Nukariya

Chapter 8. The Sermon of the Inanimate.

"The Scripture of Zen is written with facts simple and familiar, so simple and familiar with everyday life that they escape observation on that very account. The sun rises in the east. The moon sets in the west. High is the mountain. Deep is the sea. Spring comes with flowers; summer with the cool breeze; autumn with the bright moon; winter with the flakes of snow. These things, perhaps too simple and too familiar for ordinary observers to pay attention to, have had profound significance for Zen." [FN#135]

Ancient Korean Proverb:

(For your answer) Bow one thousand times to the mountain (and contemplate).

Earth needs its mountains, its plants, and its animals of all kinds in order to support life at all, including human life.

The Caucasus Mountains seen from the sky.

The Caucasus Mountains seen from the sky.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2007 Patty Inglish MS


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on January 03, 2015:

@Tom Makusa - Thank you a thousand times for your comments, insight, and especially the two sayings at the end of your post. I have been looking for those sayings and could not remember the words!

Your words here are certainly an opening blessing to 2015 and I will remember them. Happiest of New Year's to you and yours! May 2015 be blessed of God for us all!

Tom Mukasa from Lives in USA on January 02, 2015:

What would we be without mountains? Thank you again. It is a thought provoking write up Patty. Happy 2015. Our mountains are part of that landscape and elevation that figure as stimuli for instance: weight, mountains provide weight that holds together earth plates and keep them in one place; mountains control direction of shifting earth plates providing added firmness; they provide altitude; they influence wind currents; and they are a stage for a motive force that makes running rivers or streams flow. Mountains have feautured in mythology and lore. The Alps, Andes, Himalayas, Drakensberg and Ruenzori are part of many legends. Have you heard of these sayings: " if the mountain won't come to Mahomet, then Mahomet will go to the mountain" (Arabic). "Don't be so hard to change, even mountains meet" (Ancient Bantu saying). Once again, thanks.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 28, 2011:

PurplePerl - You just reminded me to add the Asian proverb to the Mt. Fuji image - "When you reach the top of the mountain, climb higher."

HendrikDB - Thanks very much.

HendrikDB on November 28, 2011:

Very good and though provoking!

Esther Shamsunder from Bangalore,India on November 28, 2011:

Mountains and all of Mother Nature is here for us to enjoy as God created them to sustain us. Your hub is a thought provoker, Patty!

And I like to think that every mountain(life's many challenges) is an opportunity for us "to be shaped like a diamond". As little children we used to sing a song about facing our mountains,which simply meant, that "we can go over it, under it or around it".

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 27, 2011:

marwan asmar - I agree about the need to spread the word and thoughts.

Barry - OK, it's related and I think important. Thanks.

Barry Rutherford from Queensland Australia on November 27, 2011:

Could not help put in this plug for what's happening to the mountain of West Virginia/

Marwan Asmar from Amman, Jordan on November 27, 2011:

A very interesting piece. We skip and gloss over the fact that mountains are a central part of the ecology system and take for granted that mountains that exist; you are right they must have a function and many like you and I must write about them in plain layman English to increase our appreciation of them.

Bri on February 22, 2009:

This was a very helpful cite for my 3-paragraph essay!! THX

Haider on December 26, 2008:

Very nice article! However you did not mention the main function of the Mountains. Controlling the climate is just a very small function of the mountains.

The main function of the mountains is that they give stability to Earth's crust. As we know that the layers below Earth are molten, if there were no mountains the Earth’s crust would have moved with us.

How mountains stabilise them? Today science tells us that the portion of the mountains that is visible to us above the earth crust is just the small fraction of that which is below the earth crust. For example Mount Everest is 9km high but its root is deeper than 125km below earth's crust. This helps it in serving its function as a wedge or a peg and holds firm the Earth's crust.

Allah tells not only the nature of the mountains but also their function in the Holy Koran:

"Have We not made the Earth as a wide expanse, and the mountains as pegs?" - Surat 78 Verses 6-7"And We have set on the Earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with them." - Surat 21 Verse 31"And the mountains hath He firmly fixed." - Surat 79 Verse 32

And don't worry about the Ark of Noah it will be found one day as Allah says in Koran that it will be made a Sign for mankind. And prophecies of Koran never go wrong. For example:On display in the Royal Mummies Chamber of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo is a mummified body of Pharaoh that was found some years ago. The information that Pharaoh's corpse would serve as a sign for later generations is given in Holy Koran as follows:"We brought the tribe of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his troops pursued them out of tyranny and enmity. Then, when he was on the point of drowning, he [Pharaoh] said: "I believe that there is no god but Him in Whom the tribe of Israel believes. I am one of the Muslims". "What, now! When previously you rebelled and were one of the corrupters? Today we will preserve your body so you can be a Sign for people who come after you. Surely many people are heedless of Our Signs." Surat 10 Verses 91-92

Don't worry about the Ark of Noah!!! LOL

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on August 16, 2007:

Thanks for the great comments. All the features of the Earth are important in many ways, to the environment and to different institutions that bind societies together - political, spiritual, educational, others.

adite from New Delhi, India on August 15, 2007:

Mountains, rivers, oceans, land, air, space...they make Planet Earth what it is.. Environmentally speaking, each of these co-exist. Providing sustenance to life on our planet. Take out one...and there will be irreparable damage to the others and consequently be disastrous for mankind. Devoid of mountains, our 'spiritual life' too would be barren...

Prince Maak from Just Above the EARTH and below the SKY on August 14, 2007:

Good notes, patty.

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