Earth, the Power of the Planet: Atmosphere 2007 Nature The series highlights the major events which have shaped the Earth's history and allowed life to flourish. Follow Dr Stewart's personal journey to some of the most remote places on the planet. The atmosphere is Earth’s protective layer, cloaking us in a warm, oxygen-rich embrace and shielding us from the cold hostility of space. It acts as a natural greenhouse, keeping the Earth 51 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it would otherwise be. Yet the atmosphere is also full of contradictions. It’s immensely powerful but at the same time highly sensitive. It’s destructive, yet it shelters us. It was created in part by the planet’s first organisms, and it continues to be essential for life.