What is the significance of calling the Noachian covenant an “everlasting covenant” (Gen 9:16)?

This is the first of many instances of this phrase. The Hebrew עוֹלָם, olam, is glossed as “long duration, antiquity, futurity.” That it cannot be an “eternal” covenant seems clear if the implication is that God will never again destroy the earth—because he will, after all, at the end of time. Moreover, some things that are called “everlasting covenants” in the text do fail to apply to certain descendants of those with whom they are made. For example, after some generations, distant descendants of the Jews will not be bound by the Mosaic covenant because the temple will be destroyed, or because a new covenant replaces the old. Hence “everlasting” would seem to be better rendered “long-lived” or “indefinitely long.” This is not to deny that God does not have any number of, indeed, eternal covenants. It is just that an olam covenant is not necessarily eternal. It is just long-lived.