In the 2003 Jim Carrey movie “Bruce Almighty,” Carrey’s character suddenly acquires God-like powers, and uses those powers to lasso the full moon and pull it closer to Earth to woo his beloved. Later in the movie, background shots show TV news reports about massive, unprecedented flooding around the world.
While the film is obviously fantastical, it does raise a question: What would happen if the moon were twice as close to Earth than it is today?
In fact, the flooding scenario from the movie isn’t far from what might actually happen if the moon were suddenly much closer to Earth, said Neil Comins, a physicist at the University of Maine. The best-known effect of the moon is its gravitational pull on Earth’s oceans, which results in two high tides and two low tides every day.
But if the moon were half the distance from Earth as it is now, the tides would be eight times higher, Comins told Live Science. Some islands would be completely underwater for much of the day, and populated coastlines would likely become uninhabitable because of the high tides, he added.