Europe got pummeled by one of the worst storms in decades on January 18. Winds of up to 133 miles per hour swept off the Atlantic and ripped across the continent all the way into Russia, leaving a swath of destruction.
The storm killed at least 47 people, and left hundreds of thousands of homes without power, including a million people in the Czech Republic alone. Airports across the continent cancelled flights and battened down the hatches, leaving tens of thousands stranded.
The German federation of insurers said the storm, the worst in 30 years, had caused around a billion euros’ worth of damage in Germany alone. For the first time in its history, the Deutsche Bahn railway company suspended all services across Germany. Off the coast of Britain, 30-foot waves wrecked the msc Napoli, causing her to spill her cargo of bmw motorbikes, wine barrels, carpets and more—delighting English scavengers. Russian oil deliveries to the European Union were suspended after a Ukrainian pumping station lost power due to the high winds.
Climate researchers blame the disaster on “unusually high temperatures in the North Atlantic—0.5 to 1 degree Celsius (around 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal,” which allowed “winds to accumulate more moisture and surge in energy” (Associated Press, January 19).
But as severe as this storm was, the past year has provided a whole host of unusually devastating weather worldwide.
In China, weather disasters during 2006 claimed 2,704 lives and cost approximately $27 billion in economic losses. Typhoon Saomai, the strongest typhoon to hit the People’s Republic of China since its founding, killed approximately 460 people. Meanwhile, as the coast was being flooded, inland China experienced 18 sandstorms and northwestern China is going through the worst drought in a century, leaving more than 17 million people with drinking water shortages. Compounding the drought problem, northern China experienced its worst acid rain in 14 years this past summer, and 80 percent of Beijing’s rain days were “acid rain days” (Xinhua General News Service, January 28). Chinese officials characterized the extreme weather as being “rare” in the country’s history.
Further south, Jahor, Malaysia, experienced its worst floods ever, after receiving the heaviest rainfall in 100 years. In Malaysia the weather has become so unpredictable that a government-commissioned report said the “weather was undergoing a metamorphosis” (New Straits Times, January 15). The report warned Malaysians to be prepared for more extreme occurrences.
Still further south, Australia remains in the middle of the third-worst drought in history, its worst in a century. In many regions, some farmers are losing hope; one anti-depression agency says that on average, one male farmer in Australia commits suicide every four days.
Tasmania was a freak show last year: Every month but September saw a long-term monthly rainfall or temperature record broken. May saw the lowest temperature for the month ever recorded. June experienced the lowest total rainfall. October set records for the hottest day, coldest night, warmest night and lowest rainfall.
In America, regular rainfall is becoming an increasingly rare phenomenon in many parts of the country. This past summer, over 60 percent of America languished in abnormally dry conditions or drought. At the same time, record heat scorched the nation, with periodic surges of fierce and damaging triple-digit temperatures. Making matters worse, competition for surface water has heated up as groundwater levels in many drought-affected areas have been drawn down.
2006 also saw the highest average temperature in the United Kingdom since records began in 1914.
During 2005, the Arctic lost 14 percent of its perennial sea ice—the melt rate was 18 times greater than the average of the past several decades. Some scientists claim that it was the warmest summer in 400 years. According to nasa, the Arctic Ocean has lost about 20 percent of its sea ice since the 1970s, an area twice the size of Texas. (Click on these nasa links to compare satellite images of the arctic ice cap in 1981 and 2005.)
If current melt rates continue, it is speculated that Canada’s Northwest Passage could be open for year-around commercial traffic in as little as 15 years. That’s good news for merchants (since it nearly cuts in half the distance by ship between Tokyo and London), but not so good if you are a polar bear.
What in the world is up with the weather?
Many climatologists admit that they just don’t know. Meteorologists have trouble predicting the weather in the short term, let alone in the long run.
Climatologists and meteorologists are only able to rely on scientific observation, experimentation and reason—physical evidence—to forecast weather. But this tells only part of the story. There is another little-used source we can turn to for the other portion of the picture. It claims to pinpoint the causes of weather cataclysms, and to forecast long-term weather trends. Yet it is a source whose veracity most people would naturally question.
That source is God’s revealed Word: the Holy Bible.
Can this Book really tell us the real cause of weather crises?
The God of the Bible claims He controls the weather. He challenges us to believe Him! He says He causes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. He sends the snow and ice as well as drought and heat. He bathes the Earth with gentle rain to show His loving concern, yet also sends flood and mildew to punish (Matthew 5:45; Job 37; Deuteronomy 28:22).
Further, God, in His great purpose, also allows Satan—the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4)—to have a role in producing catastrophic weather, for man’s ultimate learning (see Job 1).
Whereas humankind, in explaining weather, looks to material causes exclusively—physical phenomena measurable by scientific instruments—the Bible shows that there is a spiritual dimension to this question.
Most people today consider themselves too sophisticated to believe that there is a God who can control the weather and that He would use it to punish or teach lessons. Weathermen and news reporters would scoff at the idea that wrong ways of living—wrong lifestyles, morality and thinking—and chaotic weather are related. But the reality is, the majority of mankind has been deceived (Revelation 12:9), and will end up being victims of the very prophecies they reject.
So what does the Bible forecast? The answer to that question is directly related to the moral and spiritual state of the world. Because that is decaying, so too is the state of our weather.
The chaotic weather we have experienced in recent decades will soon seem tame by comparison, unless we alter our present course as a civilization. In the near future, our weather is going to go completely haywire (see Revelation 6:5-8; 8:4-12). The powerful forces of nature will be unleashed upon a disobedient world. We should consider the worsening weather trend a warning.
However, if we follow and obey God, He promises to bless us. In Leviticus 26, God pledges “rain in due season” and that “the land shall yield her increase” (verse 4)—“if ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them” (verse 3). Were the nations to do so, we would find ourselves blessed with beautiful weather and stable climates. We would not have to fear global warming, crop failures and famine, or being killed in a severe weather event.
We can experience prosperous living with pleasant, balanced weather—when mankind is willing to recognize God, His laws and His government. That will mean the dawning of a new age—the wonderful World Tomorrow. If you would like to know more about that soon-coming world, request a copy of our free booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like! ▪