Brevard, N.C.—In the morning hours of July 4th, I stand sipping coffee on the deck of a house near the top of a mountain in the Appalachian range, enjoying the view of a sizeable lake in the valley below. But there is a problem. The plain in that valley is supposed to be covered, not with water, but with a sea of corn stalks.
Like many great swaths of the eastern United States, western North Carolina is receiving too much rain this year. More than 47 inches have fallen on the nearby city of Asheville so far, which is 23 inches above normal and 10 inches above the previous record for the wettest year to date.
The deluge has caused floods, landslides, evacuations and storm damage. It’s also delaying planting for many crops in this rich agricultural region and destroying much of what had already grown.
“It’s just catastrophic,” said Kirby Johnson, who grows corn and other vegetables near Brevard to sell to supermarket chains. “I’m 53, and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Johnson’s shock exemplifies what many agricultural workers across the eastern third of the U.S. are experiencing.
Atlanta is on pace to have its wettest year in history, as it surges toward a record set in 2009 by a “once-in-500-years flood.” New Jersey and Delaware experienced their wettest Junes since at least 1895, when record keeping began. Farmers across several states have lost countless acres of wheat to pre-harvest sprouting, which happens when severe flooding delays harvest and the wheat kernels (still on the plants) absorb so much water that they come out of dormancy and begin sprouting roots down into the very plant they grew on.
Are the Wildfires Winning?
Meanwhile, people on the other side of the country are suffering the opposite problem. Severe drought conditions throughout the Southwestern states are destroying crops, making planting impossible and exhausting some key water sources. Utah suffered the driest of any June on record. Nebraska’s Platte River is drying up. After three years of blistering drought, three quarters of Texas is now grappling with severe to exceptional drought conditions. Medina Lake, near hard-hit San Antonio, is down to 5 percent capacity. Lake Granbury, near Fort Worth, is the lowest it has ever been.
Much of the region from Texas to California is getting hotter and drier almost every year, and the cumulative effect of all those back-to-back sweltering summers has generated almost “perfect” conditions for one of the country’s most savage enemies: wildfire.
Eight of America’s nine worst years ever for wildfires have occurred since the year 2000. And now, more large fires are burning than at any time in the past 40 years. The total area burned each year is also expanding.
In mid-June, the nation was captivated by the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history. California officials recently warned that the Golden State could suffer its worst season for wildfires in 100 years. Nineteen of the country’s elite firefighters were killed on June 30 as they battled a furious Arizona blaze.
That specific tragedy, and the general increase in abnormal conditions, prompted one of the nation’s leading wildfire experts, John N. Maclean, to call for a major change in firefighting policy: “We have entered a new world of wildland fire, and it’s going to get worse,” he said. “It’s hotter and drier; fire seasons begin earlier and last longer. Again and again, we hear firefighters say, as they did after the Arizona deaths, ‘These are the most extreme fire conditions we’ve ever seen.’ … The decisions about when to fight, and when not to, should be made by the firefighters …. [W]hen there are extreme conditions … it would become a shout: Stand down!” (High Country News, July 12).
Pat Veesart, a small business consultant in one hard-hit drought area, voiced her frustration with the nation’s weather imbalances to someone in a water-saturated region. “I’m so sorry for you with the flooding,” she said. “Out in western Kansas we are so desperate for water that they had to invent a term for our drought that was worse than the worst one they already had. I wish we could balance this and take away your excess.”
How can it be that so many states are drowning in deluge while just as many others are languishing in drought? Why is the balance that Veesart and so many others crave—a balance the Bible calls “rain in due season”—so elusive?
God’s words recorded in Amos 4:7 have never seemed more relevant: “I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.”
And America’s erratic weather doesn’t end with floods and droughts. This year the country has suffered record snowfalls, unprecedented high and low temperatures in several cities, record heat waves, and a spate of deadly tornadoes, one of which was the widest in world history. That tornado, in Moore, Oklahoma, killed 24 people, injured more than 270 and destroyed more than 1,000 homes and buildings. The overall economic loss exceeded $3 billion. And the year is not over.
This is not normal, and you need to be asking some big questions. Are the actions of nations and individuals causing the increasing weather extremes? If so, which actions? Could the global warming crowd actually be right on this one?
The situation is similar in countries all over the globe as people struggle to understand weather that is increasingly chaotic and destructive.
This summer, parts of Hungary, Germany and Austria suffered their worst flooding in history, while the United Kingdom—where some roads are melting—is on pace to have its driest July ever. Calgary, Alberta, suffered the worst flood in the city’s history; it killed three people and forced 100,000 to evacuate. Singapore just had its first hailstorm in history. Monsoon flooding called “absolutely unprecedented” hit the Indian Himalayas in June, dumping 22.36 inches of rain in less than two days. Entire villages were washed away, and at least 5,700 people were killed. The same month, typhoons killed three people in China, and forced the evacuation of half a million people.
Throughout man’s history, human beings have struggled with adverse weather events, but statistics show that the trend in recent decades toward extremes and disasters is getting worse. Part of the reason the damage and destruction are increasing is that the global population is growing, and recent decades have seen people around the world move en masse to large cities near water.
But there is also a concrete increase in the sheer number of large-scale, chaotic weather events. In the U.S., for example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency reported that from 1953 to 1989, there was an average of 23 major disasters per year. In the 1990s, that number doubled to 46 per year. From 2000 to 2009, it leaped up to 56 per year, including some of the most destructive weather events in mankind’s history. Then, the year 2010 saw a staggering record of 81 major weather disasters strike. 2011 smashed that record with 99 major disasters at a total cost of $60 billion! Last year, the total number of disasters fell to 47, but the intensity and impact of the events increased so dramatically that the country’s total cost for weather disasters soared to $110 billion.
Never in living memory have so many people suffered so many severe, deadly and erratic extremes in weather. And the big question is why? Is mankind’s industry and pollution to blame for all of the extreme weather? Is there something larger at play?
What Controls the Weather?
The question of what controls the planet’s weather has become a political and deeply divisive one. Most on the political left say the increasingly erratic conditions are entirely the result of mankind’s destructive industrial activities. The breakdown, they say, is cosmic payback for man’s environmental sinfulness. They also say it’s the most pressing problem facing humanity, and they throw all their weight behind efforts to reduce the carbon emissions of the world’s industrialized nations. No matter what economic consequences may result, they argue, industry (especially American industry) must be curtailed so the planet can survive.
President Obama recently declared a unilateral U.S. war on global climate change, saying essentially that America must inflict a deep economic wound on itself in order to save the Earth. At its heart, this is a war on the U.S. coal industry, which would make it impossible to open new coal factories and would close most existing ones. But since India and China together are opening a new coal factory every week, U.S. efforts would greatly injure American industry even as global carbon emissions continue to rise.
For many on the political left, belief in global warming has become a religion. Anyone who dares voice skepticism about it is lambasted as a flat-Earth know-nothing. When believers are confronted with evidence that disproves their doctrines—like, for example, the landmark study published in March showing that global temperatures have been static for 15 years even though greenhouse-gas emissions have soared in that time—it only seems to strengthen their piety. The “persecution” only fortifies their resolve. The notion of man-made climate change has become not a science, but a faith—in many cases as radical and blind as any you may find among the Taliban.
Largely because of this ultra-orthodox leftist stance, many on the political right say the whole idea of man-made climate change is a hoax. “You’ve been offered a way out of the guilt for having contributed to the destruction of the planet,” Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show on April 1, “and that is if you will go out and buy a hybrid, or if you will oppose oil companies, or if you will oppose fracking; if you will oppose the Keystone pipeline, if you will oppose the growth of any fossil fuel industry, then you’re a good person. … It’s all a hoax. … Your time on Earth is barely the size of the head of a pin, if that big. So what possible impact could you be making?”
Despite the leftists’ noisy and frequent prayer calls, and despite some media sensationalism, the general public is not terribly concerned about the weather. A global shift from agriculture-based economy to knowledge-based work is well underway. Unprecedented numbers of people live in climate-controlled homes and buildings, insulated from the elements. Technology removes us from all but the most severe weather extremes, so we are not worried about it. A Pew poll earlier this year showed that concerns about climate change lie at the very bottom of a list of Americans’ worries, ranking 21st out of 21 concerns.
What is the truth? Are Americans right in thinking erratic weather conditions are not something we need to be too worried about? Are those like Limbaugh correct in saying mankind’s economic activity isn’t making an impact?
Take a look at the climate of the Middle East. Historically, much of this region was covered with lush forests and verdant vegetation. But in the early 1900s, the Ottoman Turks undertook massive tree-felling operations to build the Hejaz Railway from Damascus to Medina. The deserts that now dominate many parts of the region are the direct result of that project. Widespread deforestation begets desertification. Desertification alters regional climates. This is a clear example of climate change resulting from man’s actions.
Evidence shows that slash-and-burn techniques, converting forested areas into concrete jungles, pollution from industrial production and exhaust from planes, trains and automobiles have contributed to weather variation. It is also likely that developing irrigation systems, building lakes and dams, draining aquifers and swamps, and engaging in massive-scale monoculture farming contribute to climatic variation. It is clear that some of the weather calamity we are suffering is mankind reaping the results of environmental mismanagement, poor stewardship, errors and greed.
However, it is not scientifically possible to attribute the sheer scale of the increase in erratic weather to human behaviors.
He Has His Way in the Whirlwind
Scientific observation of physical evidence can only tell a small part of the story. To understand the rest, we have to turn to a source that most people would never think to consult for such matters: God’s revealed Word, the Holy Bible.
The earliest chapters of the Bible depict God creating the continents and oceans, the atmosphere and climate, the intricately woven ecosystems of Earth and the laws that govern it all. Unlike modern meteorologists who struggle even to predict short-term weather, the Bible accurately forecasts long-term trends and even pinpoints the primary cause of weather disasters.
“The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm,” the Prophet Nahum wrote. “He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers …. [T]he earth is burned at his presence …. But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof …” (Nahum 1:3-5, 8).
In the above passage and scores of others, the Bible makes plain that there is a crucial spiritual dimension to weather. Modern people generally view themselves as too sophisticated to believe such a fact, but the fact is not dependent on belief. Nature is not only the creation of God’s mind, but God also “has His way” in weather phenomena for the purpose of communicating with mankind.
What is the message? What is He communicating through the exacerbating floods, droughts and other disasters? Study Leviticus 26:19-20; 2 Chronicles 6:26-27 and especially Job 37:11-13. If you believe that the Bible is the Word of God, then the message is inescapably clear: God intervenes through weather to deliver blessings for obedience and punishment for sinfulness.
Look at modern systems of education, politics, military, industry, entertainment and even religion. Look at the widespread, unprecedented embrace of sins like greed-driven commerce, homosexuality and pornography. We have shoved God out of every facet of our lives. By shaking up the weather, God is trying to get through to His creation so we will see this. He is trying to make us think about cause and effect, and about what happens when people reject the law of the God who gave them life. He is showing mankind that we are breaking laws which, if kept, would cause joy, peace, happiness and “rain in due season.”
Modern meteorologists fail to recognize this pivotal dimension in weather because they, like the majority of mankind, are deceived about the realities of life (Revelation 12:9). This failure prevents them from seeing the direct correlation between wrong ways of living and catastrophic weather.
Devotees of the man-made global warming church are wrong. They say man’s industry is entirely responsible for erratic weather, while they fight to accelerate the cultural shifts that are destroying families. Mankind’s industry and pollution are having some effect on unstable weather patterns, but the primary cause—by a wide margin—is man’s increasing and prideful lawlessness. You may not think the unprecedented proliferation of immorality, pornography, cohabitation, abortion, etc. are economically hurting nations, but the Bible says they absolutely are. Mankind’s actions are leading to the increase in unstable weather because these lawless actions cause our Creator to punish us—for our long-term benefit. And weather is a primary tool He uses to accomplish this punishment.
In the United States, on this July 4 holiday, Americans celebrate our nation’s history and freedom. One recurring theme, written on parade banners, sung in songs, and spoken between fireworks’ bursts, is the phrase, “God bless America.” But even a cursory glance at the weather trends shows that God is not blessing America anymore. Just the opposite—He is cursing it.
The Future Forecast
The Bible foretold the increase in floods, droughts and other disasters the world is now experiencing. It also says that today’s conditions will soon seem mild by comparison to the completely berserk weather ahead (Ezekiel 5:16; Revelation 8:4-12). God will soon unleash utterly unprecedented forces of nature upon the rebellious world in order to humble the people and bring the nations to their knees in repentance (Isaiah 45:22-25).
After that period of intense punishment and the resulting repentance, God promises He will “heal the land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14). Under God’s government of love, all men will keep God’s law and abide by His commandments. Then, God promises that instead of the twin curses of drought and flooding, He “will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase” (Ezekiel 34:26-27). At this time, even the scorched deserts of the Earth will “rejoice, and blossom as the rose” (Isaiah 35:1).