Scientists: Agriculture Is Killing Our Soil

Scientists: Agriculture Is Killing Our Soil

eutrophication&hypoxia

Current use of fertilizer could lead to a global famine and civilization’s collapse, according to academics.

Man’s use of fertilizer has radically changed the soil he farms, according to a study of the American prairie conducted by scientists at the University of Colorado. The soil’s fertility could collapse because of the damage done to the range of microbes that play a vital, but little studied, role in the soil.

“The soils currently found throughout the region bear little resemblance to their pre-agricultural state,” concluded the study, conducted under associate professor of microbial ecology Noah Fierer.

“We really know very little about one of the most productive soils on the planet, but we do know that soil microbes play a key role and we can’t just keep adding fertilizers,” said Fierer.

The study showed that uncultivated soils contain bacteria that put nutrients back into the soil. These bacteria are not present where fertilizers have been used—which means that this kind of fertilized soils has no way of replacing lost nutrients except through the use of more fertilizer.

The study, published in the November 1 edition of Science magazine, was accompanied by another piece warning of the threat a collapse in soil fertility poses to civilization.

“In the past, great civilizations have fallen because they failed to prevent the degradation of the soils on which they were founded,” begins the article by Mary Scholes, of the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, and Robert Scholes of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, also in South Africa. “The modern world could suffer the same fate at a global scale.”

“The inherent productivity of many lands has been dramatically reduced as a result of soil erosion, accumulation of salinity and nutrient depletion,” the article continues. “Although improved technology—including the unsustainably high use of fertilizers, irrigation and ploughing—provides a false sense of security, about 1 percent of global land area is degraded every year.”

Citing Fierer’s study, the authors warn that “We have forgotten the lesson of the Dust Bowl: Even in advanced economies, human wellbeing depends on looking after the soil.”

They discuss how man’s perception of soil as merely a kind of container for nutrients led to “an unprecedented increase in food production”—but also a huge amount of pollution and environmental destruction.

Scholes and Scholes dismiss a “dogmatically ‘organic’” approach as impractical, but conclude that “feeding the world and keeping it habitable” will require some major changes in agriculture.

Robert Scholes warns that governments eventually reach a point where they destroy the long-term health of their agriculture to feed people today.

“We’re running out of new agricultural frontiers and we don’t have the freedom to make errors any more,” he said. “We are using up our nutrient capital and face a looming food crisis over the next 30 to 40 years. There is a risk that we are going to paint ourselves into a corner. Famine is a very real possibility.”

The Telegraph’s international business editor, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, says the Scholes “fear that we are repeating the mistakes of past civilizations, overexploiting the land until it goes beyond the point of no return and leads to a vicious circle of famine, and then social disintegration.”

“Cautionary stories abound,” he writes. “The East side of Madagascar has been destroyed by slash and burn deforestation, perhaps irreversibly in any human time horizon. Iceland’s Norse settlers turned their green and partly forested island into a Nordic desert in the 10th century. They have yet to restore the fragile soil a thousand years later, despite careful husbandry.” He concludes with the following warning:

We are becoming complacent again. The blunt truth is that the world cannot afford to lose one hectare of land a year, let alone 12 million hectares. The added discovery that we’re doing even more damage than feared to the soil microbia should bring us to our senses. We argue too much about global warming, which may or may not be caused by man’s actions, and may or may catch us this century.The global land crisis is almost entirely our own doing. It is closing in on us right now. It can be reversed if world leaders choose to reverse it.

One of the laws in the Old Testament of the Bible frequently ridiculed by critics is the land sabbath. God commanded that every seven years, the land be allowed to rest—there was no pruning or planting (for commercial harvesting), and nothing was to be harvested except what people picked for their own personal consumption (Leviticus 25:2-7, 18-22). To many, this law seems obsolete. Man had gotten around it with fertilizers, they thought.

Scientists are now just beginning to learn that there is no getting around this law. The use of fertilizers to avoid letting the land rest is a shortcut that damages the land even more in the long run.

The Scholes’ paper dismisses a return to this kind of farming as impractical. They are correct in saying that it wouldn’t be easy. In fact, keeping the land sabbath God’s way would require a complete re-ordering of society. It would require a society that trusts in God to provide a bumper crop of food in the sixth year of harvest. It may require most families to have a fairly substantial garden of their own. It may mean that some of the world’s deserts have to be reclaimed for use as agricultural land—something which, as Evans-Pritchard points out, is possible, but is ignored because of the expense.

But as all these experts acknowledge, our current way of farming is not working. If we keep trying to do it this way—and we will—it will bring famine. The land sabbath, as well as God’s other laws, are the changes we need in order to fix this.

Scientists are now ready to admit, “We really know very little about one of the most productive soils on the planet.” The problem is that they’re not yet ready to admit that the God of the Bible knows all about these soils—and a lot more besides. It will take the complete failure of man’s civilization before that day comes.

But once it comes, man will finally be able to reap the blessings of living God’s way of life. For more on what these blessings and this society will look like, read our free booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like.

America Terrorized by ‘Knockout Game’

America Terrorized by ‘Knockout Game’

Savio Sebastian

A string of violent, unprovoked attacks have left people on the pavement battered and bruised, unconscious, or even dead. While some believe the attacks—called the “knockout game”—are being sensationalized by the media, the threat of being jumped by a hoodlum with no motive or provocation is inciting fear in U.S. cities.

The “knockout game” is a horrifying game in which a person, usually a young, black teen, randomly sucker-punches a stranger with the goal of knocking the person out cold with one punch. That’s it. The attackers don’t rob the people afterward. They simply swing and dash “for the fun of it,” as one teen said.

The media began reporting on these crimes about a month ago when there appeared to be a sudden uptick in attacks. In New York, seven “knockout” attacks have been reported this fall, many of them against Jews. Attacks have also been reported across America in cities such as San Diego, St. Louis and Chicago. Fox News reported that seven people have been killed already from these kinds of attacks. And with all the publicity the trend has gotten, it would be unsurprising if more teens joined the “fun.”

It is difficult to tell just how widespread the trend is. But if you examine the response, you see that Americans are fearful of this threat escalating.

Just look at some of the action taken: New York City increased the number of officers on patrol; New York assemblyman Jim Tedisco introduced a new bill that would label future “knockout games” as gang assaults, with juveniles being tried as adults; New York State assemblyman Dov Hikind wrote a letter to both President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking them to take action against those who participate in such attacks; Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter warned that anyone playing the game would face charges ranging from aggravated assault to third degree murder should the victim die; a high school in New York City cancelled a Friday evening get-together last week after nervous parents called the school worried about their children’s safety; Al Sharpton has spoken out against these attacks; an Oklahoman state lawmaker planned to introduce new legislation that would increase criminal penalties for anyone who engages in this game, even though no such attacks have been reported in Oklahoma.

All this has happened within just a few weeks. It is certainly telling of the fear in America when a few dozen attacks across the nation causes such a large response. These teens are terrorizing the nation.

Did you know that nearly 2,500 years ago, God prophesied that this would happen? Read Isaiah 3:12. God said that in these later times that we are living in right now, children would be the oppressors of our society. How evident is that with this “knockout game”?

Bible prophecy also predicted another aspect of society we see today: Race relations in America would get worse, not better. These attacks are usually carried out by young black teens against whites. Such evidence of increasing racial tension is becoming more common. As columnist Brad Macdonald pointed out in 2011, most people want to ignore the signs, even though America is about ready to implode:

We meet all the criteria: rising unemployment, overloaded and failing social systems, mass discontent and uncertainty, loss of faith in leadership, a cultural disdain for law and morality. As these problems intensify, they’re fueling tension, even deep-seated hatred, between blacks and whites, rich and poor, and Democrats and Republicans.Look around: The kindling is set. All that’s needed is a lit match.

At the Trumpet, we don’t take political sides. We don’t root for Republicans or Democrats. Rather, we give God’s perspective of events—and point to His solutions.

What is the cause of all this fear and racial tension? The Bible makes it clear: It is our sins. America is being cursed because we have forgotten God, and these curses will get worse before they get better.

But you don’t have to fear these horrors. There is a way to be protected and free from fear. Verse 10 talks about a group of people right in the midst of all of this that are blessed and protected by God for doing something. They are getting a warning of hope out amid all of this calamity and social breakdown. Do you know where this group is? Do you know where you can find a message that gives real answers for the problems plaguing society today?

Be sure to read Chapter Four of our free booklet Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet to understand where events like this “knockout game” are leading. It is a sobering message, but one full of hope. If after reading this you want to learn more about Bible prophecy and how to escape these horrible calamities, be sure to request and study this book.

Herbert W. Armstrong Visited the Great Wall of China

Herbert W. Armstrong Visited the Great Wall of China

Bernard Goldbach

His honored legacy with leaders from the world’s most populous nation

“Tuesday we made an early start and were driven to the Great Wall of China, surely one of the ‘seven wonders of the world’ in terms of man-built wonders,” wrote the internationally recognized ambassador for peace to millions of his readers in the February 1980 edition of The Plain Truth magazine.

“The wall is about 3,600 miles long, and on top is wide enough for a two-lane highway” Herbert W. Armstrong added, recalling his Dec. 4, 1979, visit. Enamored by the sheer size, scale and scope of the acclaimed edifice, he added, “Just another word here about the Great Wall of China. It is longer than the distance from Los Angeles, California, to New York, longer than the distance across the entire United States. Although I had seen pictures of it, I had not realized that it continues up and down over mountain tops. It was built in its entirety by hand labor, probably countless thousands of men. And it was hundreds of years in building. Apparently it was built to keep out the nomads from the north.”

Over time Mr. Armstrong developed a strong rapport with China’s leadership. In 1974, the Chinese chief of protocol invited him to visit Beijing. The overture was extended in Addis Ababa via Ethiopian Ambassador Mikasha, who planned to accompany him on the trip.

Mr. Armstrong was disappointed he was unable to visit in 1974 and meet with Mao Tse Tung, leader of the Earth’s most populous nation. However, he did write a lengthy cover article in the March 1977 edition of The Plain Truth recounting the message he wanted to deliver to Mao of Jesus Christ’s prophesied return and replacement of man’s governments by God’s divine, loving, peaceful rule.

In 1979, in the Great Hall on People’s Square, Mr. Armstrong was met by Tan Zhen-lin, vice chairman of the National People’s Congress and, at the time, one of the three top men in China. During this meeting, Mr. Armstrong explained prophetic events yet to unfold in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Relations reached a climactic high in 1984, when U.S. First Lady Nancy Reagan welcomed him to the White House on May 17. The visit was for meetings with government officials and to attend performances by the Little Ambassadors of Shanghai. As founder and chairman of the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation, Mr. Armstrong had been working with the Little Ambassadors and sponsored their four-city U.S. tour that included performances at Ambassador Auditorium, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

At the White House, Mrs. Reagan thanked him for sponsoring the Little Ambassadors’ tour. Thereafter, they moved into the famed East Room, which was used for entertainment by presidents Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. White House and Ambassador Foundation officials, along with over 400 guests from the Republican Women’s League, assembled for a special performance by the Little Ambassadors. After the entertainment, the children, first lady and Mr. Armstrong gathered for photographs. As he was departing the East Room, he noticed a piano and, to the delight of those present, sat down and performed a few pieces. Afterward, members of the Chinese media interviewed him regarding the Ambassador Foundation’s strong relationship with the Little Ambassadors of Shanghai, who by now were affectionately calling him “Grandpa.”

Two months later, on Aug. 13, 1984, Mr. Armstrong hosted Chinese Ambassador Zhang Wenjin at the Ambassador College Social Center in Pasadena, California.

A key high point of Ambassador Foundation relations with China came two months later in the Great Hall at 10 a.m. on Nov. 7, 1984, as Mr. Armstrong was greeted by Deng Xiaoping. The visit to the world’s most populous nation was historic—it was the first time a leader from the Christian religion had been invited to speak before leaders of the People’s Republic of China. After group photographs, the two sat together at the rear of the room and, as was Mr. Armstrong’s custom, presented the leader of China with a piece of handcrafted crystal, titled Winter Trees, by the famed American artisans at Steuben.

Sadly, the death of the man who had met more world leaders in their private offices than any other came on Jan. 16, 1986, stalling the progress of his and Deng Xiaoping’s project set in motion at their meeting two years earlier: construction of the Golden Bridge Exchange Center in Beijing. A year before his death, Mr. Armstrong oversaw planning meetings conducted at Ambassador College with Chinese officials for the building to be modeled on the architecture and engineering of Ambassador Auditorium. The shelving of the project was exacerbated by the cadre that assumed control of the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation. They ultimately destroyed its humanitarian endeavors, lacking both the vision and diplomacy to further the momentum of cultural humanitarianism worldwide as led by the internationally recognized ambassador for world peace.

Mao Tse Tung, Albl Mikasha, Tan Zhen-Lin, Zhang Wenjin and Deng Xiaoping are all dead. However, they would be pleased that Armstrong International Cultural Foundation founder and chairman Gerald Flurry followed in Mr. Armstrong’s footsteps and took the time to review the blueprints of Ambassador Auditorium before authorizing construction of its successor, Armstrong Auditorium. Visit the Armstrong Auditorium website for a detailed look at the U.S.’s latest polished jewel, aimed at lifting the human spirit. Adorned with Swarovski-trimmed chandeliers, Baccarat crystal candelabra, American cherry wood veneers, Spanish marble and Azerbaijani onyx, the hall’s superb acoustics and soaring Swans in Flight sculpture combine to set Armstrong Auditorium apart in the Midwestern United States.

The Armstrong International Cultural Foundation has continued the legacy of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong and the efforts of the humanitarian Golden Bridge Exchange. This was clearly on display when on February 28 this year, China’s National Symphony Orchestra made its debut performance at Armstrong Auditorium in perpetuation of the spirit of the efforts of its namesake and China’s Deng Xiaoping. With each movement of the orchestral alchemy, the audience responded with avid applause, and as the final dulcet tones rang out, the enthusiastic listeners responded with a standing ovation.

For more information on Herbert W. Armstrong, his legacy, and what the Bible foretells about China’s future, read He Was Right and Russia and China in Prophecy.

Geneva Nuclear Agreement

The United States and Iran have just concluded a nuclear treaty in Geneva, Switzerland, and it has caused a world sensation. What is it all about? Why is this so sensational to this world?

Moses’s Warning for Parents

A special message from a special book, written at the end of a great prophet’s life

A Lesson for President Obama From an Ancient King

A Lesson for President Obama From an Ancient King

STR/AFP/Getty Images

If he were willing to learn from history, President Obama could understand the danger in inviting the Chinese military onto U.S. soil.

For the first time in U.S. history, Chinese Communist troops conducted exercises on U.S. soil. The administration says this was an important opportunity for America and China to get to know each other better and build trust. But is inviting your enemies into your house really such a good idea?

The Chinese troops took part in joint “disaster relief” drills with U.S. soldiers in Hawaii on November 11-14. The operations simulated a joint response to a disaster striking a third party nation. It was billed as a lesson for the Chinese to learn about America’s ability to be “flexible” in disasters.

Besides being the first on U.S. territory, it was also the largest cooperative to date between the two armies.

Xinhua Agencies reported U.S. military Pacific Commander, Samuel Locklear, saying that the joint maneuvers will help “improve the relationship between the United States and China” and that “this kind of exercise gives us a place to start, and get into the rhythm of understanding and trusting each other.”

Although the joint excises may be the first with Chinese troops on U.S. ground, it is not the first time the U.S. has invited less-than-friendly foreign militaries to train with and observe its forces.

Last year, for the first time in history, America invited Russian airborne assault special forces to conduct operations on U.S. soil. Those “joint terror” war exercises took place at the Fort Carson, Colorado, Army base.

The Navy is increasingly training with less-than-friendly nations too. In September, Chinese and American naval forces conducted joint disaster response maneuvers with the Chinese Navy off the coast of Hawaii.

In 2012, America invited Russian naval vessels for the first time in history to participate in the Rim of the Pacific war games exercises of Hawaii. The military drills, described as the world’s largest maritime exercise, was originally intended to illustrate the naval power that could be used against Communist Russia. Last year was also the first time that U.S. ships in the rimpac war games sailed under foreign direction. At Washington’s request, China will participate in rimpacfor the first time next year.

U.S. policy makers see these military exercises as a way to foster trust between nations. They see them as a critical first step in reducing the chances of international accidents and eventually turning these nations from enemies to allies. But inviting enemies into your house in an attempt to make them friends, or even just to learn more about their capabilities, is a dangerous game. Just ask King Hezekiah.

Hezekiah was considered one of Judah’s greatest kings. Under his rule, God blessed the nation. The population of Jerusalem quintupled under Hezekiah’s reign. It was a time of expansion of power. Archaeologists note dramatic population growth, major building and construction projects, and large increases in literacy and written works.

Yet despite all of the advances, the king also set in progress a series of events that would lead to the nation’s destruction.

During Hezekiah’s reign, the Assyrian empire was sweeping south toward Judah. The Assyrians, known for their exceptional brutality, had already destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel, carrying them away into captivity.

The book of Isaiah describes the Assyrian rival, the king of Babylon, sending emissaries with presents to King Hezekiah. “And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not” (Isaiah 39:1-2; emphasis added).

It appears Hezekiah was beginning to look to men for safety instead of God. He was vainly showing the Babylonians his fantastic wealth in an attempt to convince them to form a military alliance with him. He took them into his house, blindly trusting that they would never use what they saw against him. But was that a good idea?

Look how it turned out. As Gerald Flurry wrote in his booklet Isaiah’s End-Time Vision,

Isaiah did not trust the king of Babylon. He recognized that Hezekiah was getting too close to Babylon. … Isaiah showed that this relationship would prove to be fatal, not only for Hezekiah’s descendants, but for the nation of Judah as well. “Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah … Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon” (Isaiah 39:5-7).

This action by Hezekiah—inviting a foreign nation pretending to be a friend into his house—was the beginning of the undoing of his family and of the nation of Judah. Not long after, the king of Babylon—Hezekiah’s supposed ally—destroyed God’s temple and carried the nation of Judah away captive.

But lessons from the Bible don’t carry much weight with America’s leaders today.

If you can believe it, America is even set to allow the Russian space agency Roscosmos to set up half a dozen monitoring stations within the United States. These monitoring stations, according to Russian officials, will be used to improve the accuracy and reliability of Russia’s Global Navigation Satellite System—the same system used to guide ballistic missiles and military attack aircraft to their targets.

The U.S. State Department is set to allow Russia to build the stations despite protests from the cia and Pentagon. U.S. counterintelligence officials worry that the stations could be used to spy on the U.S. The State Department doesn’t think that is too much of a threat. To them this is a more important opportunity to help mend the Obama administration’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the New York Times.

Does allowing Russia to set up military installations in the U.S. really seem like a good idea?

It is bad enough that America already allows Germany—its old World War ii adversary renowned for surprise blitzkrieg attacks—to train forces and operate fighter/bomber aircraft in the U.S. The German Air Force has been training its aircrews on various bases in the United States since the late 1950s. But in 1996, the U.S. government gave the German government permission to permanently station fighter aircraft at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico. The base now holds about 600 personnel and 21 fighters. With the March announcement that German Air Force units at Fort Bliss will transfer to Holloman, the numbers at this base may swell further. Up to 900 German personnel and 42 fighter aircraft are allowed at the base.

“Right now, Germany seems to be an ally of the United States. But what if this nation—our archenemy in World Wars i and ii—turned against us in the next war?” Gerald Flurry wrote in the latest print edition of the Trumpet. “We want to trust Germany, but history screams that we shouldn’t! Yet, not only do we equip the Germans with our weapons, but we train their air force on American bases. … What the U.S. is doing is absolutely condemned by the Bible. Why? Because it is trusting other nations rather than trusting God.”

Our gamble with China, Russia and Germany is going to go deadly wrong.

In recent years, China has engaged in rampant intellectual-property theft through cyberattacks. It has led the world in industrial espionage. Chinese agents have been caught stealing military secrets. It has sold arms to the Taliban. It has attacked U.S. satellites with lasers. It helped North Korea transfer missile technology to Iran and Pakistan. It has helped Iran with its nuclear program. And made known its ability to crash the U.S. dollar by selling its massive stockpile of U.S. treasuries.

In October, Chinese state media for the first time released maps detailing nuclear strikes against U.S. cities. The articles boasted that China’s nuclear armed submarines could wipe out Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle and spread the nuclear fallout as far as Chicago.

Does this sound like a nation we should be trusting? Or more like a nation that is waging war against us?

How about Russia? Just this past month it blackmailed Ukraine into staying out of the EU by threatening to cut off gas and oil supplies. It punished tiny Moldavia for the crime of seeking more economic ties with Europe. And only a few years ago, it invaded U.S. ally Georgia. Now it is harboring whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

Does this sound like a nation we should be opening our doors to?

And then there is Germany. Although Germany seems like a friend now, can you guarantee it will always be so? Bible prophecy says that America’s friendship with Germany will not last for long (you can read about that in Germany and the Holy Roman Empire), and the end result will be devastating.

Inviting enemies into your house is the type of mistake you only make once! It opens up the potential to be attacked and destroyed from within.

Is this really a risk worth taking? History shows it can be a deadly one. Just ask King Hezekiah.