The Cause of Weather Crises

Something is dreadfully wrong with our weather. Why?
From the August 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

Storms, droughts, wildfires, cyclones, tornadoes, floods, heat waves: Weather extremes so far this year have left thousands dead and multiple thousands injured or homeless. “New record extreme events occur every year somewhere in the globe, but in recent years the number of such extremes have been increasing,” according to a press release of the World Meteorological Organization, a UN agency (July 2; emphasis mine).

Early in the year, severe drought in Australia resulted in so great a drop in its agricultural yield that experts are saying its export industries could take a decade to recover. Wildfires in the southeast of the country followed on from the drought. At the same time, cold weather in Asia killed 530 people in Bangladesh and 670 people in northern India.

In February, a tornado hit the Congo, killing over 100 people and injuring 1,700. Severe thunderstorms struck India in March, causing 30 deaths and 500 injuries. Winds and hail uprooted trees, flattened hundreds of homes, killed thousands of cattle and poultry, and damaged crops.

May saw Tropical Cyclone Manou strike Madagascar, with wind gusts of up to 125 mph. The result was 265 fatalities and 85 percent of the buildings in one entire district destroyed. The same month, the U.S. experienced a tornado outbreak across eight states; the reported 412 tornadoes—a record for any one month—killed 42 people in total. Meanwhile, in Argentina, floods killed 23 people and damaged or destroyed 28,000 houses.

In June, a 20-day heat wave hit India, with maximum temperatures reaching 122° Fahrenheit. More than 1,500 deaths were reported. Switzerland experienced the hottest June in at least 250 years.

In addition, this year has seen cyclones in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Fiji and Mozambique; winter storms on the East Coast of the U.S. and a tropical storm in the south; a mudslide in Bolivia; flooding in Venezuela and Bangladesh. And the list of weather disasters goes on.

A Developing Trend

But the climatic disasters seen so far this year are part of a much wider trend developing in the weather.

Consider: During the past 100 years, global surface temperatures have gradually increased. The beginning of this warming trend, along with a 50-year meteorological lull (1910 to 1960 was the mildest period in the past 1,000 years), helped produce greater worldwide agricultural yields at the start of the last century. By the mid-1950s, output had reached record levels. The 1960s saw the birth of the so-called Green Revolution, spurred on by new hybrid seed, expanded irrigation, and chemical fertilizers and pesticides that promised to alleviate world hunger.

But then something unexpected happened. World climates became more volatile in the ensuing four decades. Floods followed droughts. Indiscriminate tornados ripped through cities and farmlands. Hailstorms thrashed crops, and hurricanes lashed coastlines.

As a result of this shift in the weather, there has been a significant increase in economic losses, injuries and deaths. What is more, the promises of nonstop bumper crops underpinned by the agricultural miracles of the ’60s have clouded over.

Insurance companies and meteorologists generally accept that the weather is becoming progressively more unstable. Human efforts to improve farming methods, forecast and even manipulate the weather have redoubled. Yet, in the end, these efforts are of no avail.

When wild weather strikes, we suddenly realize that few things affect us more than our climate. History shows that whole societies have risen or fallen because of favorable or nasty weather.

What are the real causes behind today’s weather upsets? Why are climatic conditions worsening?

The Human Factor

It is accepted by climatologists that climatic change results, in general, from innate variations in nature. For years, scientists have studied signals such as oscillations in high altitude jet streams and ocean currents, as well as solar radiation variation and volcanic activity.

However, many scientists also say humans clearly are agents of environmental change, though they are unclear as to what degree.

Current research has directly linked air pollution to weather upsets. Carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, smog from industrial activity, smoke from slash-and-burn deforestation in developing countries, widespread replacement of green and open land surfaces by pavement, asphalt and buildings, and the exhaust of jets, cars, trucks, trains and ships have contributed significantly to climatic variation.

There are many other suspected weather modifying agents, such as crop irrigation and the creation of man-made lakes, which affect the heat balance of the atmosphere by adding water vapor to the air. The influence of diverted rivers, dams, drained swamps and underground aquifers is significant too because of the effect the water-versus-land ratio has on the heat balance.

Not only that; now mankind is attempting to intentionally change weather through various experiments. For example, “cloud seeding” is intended either to produce needed rainfall or prevent cloud water from condensing into raindrops and snowflakes in an effort to head off severe storms and prevent flooding.

Over the past six millennia, we have abused, polluted, tarnished and ruined nearly everything our hands have touched. Indeed, we have “sown the wind”—and are about to “reap the whirlwind”! (Hos. 8:7).

The Consequences

In times past, when severe weather affected a particular area of the world, people simply migrated away from that area. But now, because of fixed borders and overpopulation, little new land is available anymore.

Today, the world is primarily dependent on the U.S., Canada, Australia, Argentina and parts of Western Europe to supply the surplus foodstuffs to meet the deficits elsewhere in the world. Any time a bad year or two of weather affects these nations, it affects the rest of the world too.

Also, we have narrowed the number of plant species on which we depend for food. According to the World Resources Institute, humans have historically used about 5,000 species of plants as food, but only 150 or so have entered world commerce and less than 20 provide most of the world’s food. Just three grass crops—wheat, rice and maize (corn)—account for roughly 60 percent of the calories and 56 percent of the protein that we consume directly from plants. By narrowing our variety of world food crops, we have increased our vulnerability to weather upsets.

In addition, never before has there been such potential for human suffering due to climatic change. The tremendous rise in population the past century has placed more people at risk when an extreme weather event occurs. Rapid growth in coastal populations places more people in harm’s way when hurricanes or tropical storms strike. Also, a significant increase in the number of homes and businesses built in flood plains over the past 50 years increases the risk and frequency of high-cost flooding events.

Because of these societal trends, cost-per-disaster figures have risen. In the U.S. alone, 39 weather-related disasters occurred during the decade of 1991-2001 in which overall damages reached or exceeded $1 billion at the time of the event. The total damage costs exceeded $134 billion.

And many climatologists’ theories point to bad times ahead.

For example, the New York-based Risk Center predicts that, during the next two decades, La Niña events will be more numerous—spawning harsher winters in the eastern half of the U.S. and more active Atlantic hurricane seasons.

Who Controls the Weather?

Meteorologists may be able to predict the weather in the short term, but they still do not know the extent to which climatic changes or climatic variability may be accurately predicted in the long term. They admit they don’t know why major global-impacting weather forces, such as high-altitude jet streams or powerful ocean currents, shift as they do.

Meteorologists are only able to rely on scientific observation, experimentation and reason—physical evidence—to forecast weather in the short term. 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 (Matt. 5:45; Job 37; Deut. 28:22).

The Bible also reveals that God has set spiritual and physical laws in motion, and that He is presently allowing humans to develop their own ways of living—contrary to His laws—and to reap the natural consequences that result from those ways, including weather upsets.

Further, God, in His great purpose, also allows Satan—the god of this world (ii Cor. 4:4)—to have a role in producing catastrophic weather, for man’s ultimate learning (see Job 1).

That’s right! 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 such a thing.

God tells us that the real cause of our upset weather conditions involves sin—which is the transgression of His law (i John 3:4). God uses weather to correct and discipline His creation—to help us realize the error in our lifestyle. In the June 1995 issue of this magazine, our editor in chief wrote, “Why all these disasters? They are a warning from God to repent! The disasters will keep coming until we repent. That is our only hope.”

Anciently, wise King Solomon understood the connection between the transgression of God’s law and bad weather. When he dedicated the temple of God, Solomon prayed, “When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them; Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance” (ii Chron. 6:26-27).

Weathermen and news reporters would scoff at the idea that wrong ways of living—wrong lifestyles, morality and thinking—and chaotic weather are related. They consider themselves wiser than Solomon! But in reality, they, along with the majority of mankind, have been deceived (Rev. 12:9), and will end up being victims of the very prophecies they reject.

What Does the Future Hold?

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 prophesied to decay (a reality we already see around us), 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 Rev. 6:5-8; 8:4-12). The powerful forces of nature are going to be unleashed upon a disobedient, nuclear-armed world to bring it to its knees in repentance.

We should consider the worsening weather trend a warning from Almighty God—a warning to the nations today to turn from materialism, false religions and all the sundry sins that are leading us away from the true path of peace and abundant living. We can expect our weather to get worse until we acknowledge our Creator, get down on our knees and pray that God would grant us repentance and give us the power necessary to keep His law.

In Leviticus 26, God promises “rain in due season” and that “the land shall yield her increase” (v. 4)—“if ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them” (v. 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, healthful 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!