Winter, Where Are You?
I’m getting a little annoyed with my weatherman. For weeks now he’s been chirping on about the unseasonably warm weather that has settled over Oklahoma. Sure, sunny skies and warm temperatures make for a smaller electric bill, a more tolerable wait at the bus stop, and a lively winter social life. But it’s time he stopped being so short-sighted.
Prolonged spring-like weather in the dead of winter is not a good thing.
Yesterday, the high here in Edmond was 72 degrees, more than 20 degrees above normal. Folks are wearing T-shirts and flip-flops, and driving around town with their windows down drinking giant Slurpees—in Oklahoma, on the first day of February. And it’s not just Oklahoma. In New York, Japanese apricot trees are in full bloom. In Illinois, outdoor ice rinks are closing because it’s too warm, and in Iowa authorities are cancelling ice fishing on lakes and ponds.
Balmy weather in the middle of winter is like an ice-cold coke on a sweltering afternoon. It’s pleasurable, but bad for you in the long run.
The science is pretty simple. Every region on Earth has an ecosystem comprised of various flora and fauna. The health of each of Earth’s ecosystems depends on a multitude of patterns, laws and cycles, all of which must remain stable and predictable. One of the largest factors ensuring a healthy ecosystem is the weather. To remain healthy, many ecosystems need four seasons.
In many cases, a cold winter is just as important as a wet spring or warm summer.
For example, in regions that traditionally experience cold winters, many plants experience a process called vernalization. In this process, plants and seeds must experience prolonged cooler temperatures in order to germinate or blossom in the spring. For these plants, dormancy isn’t simply a needless response to colder temps: It’s a physiological necessity. Plants that experience vernalization usually have a “chilling requirement.” This is the amount of cold a plant needs in the winter to assure normal, healthy growth in the spring and summer. The total varies depending on the species. Some trees require up to 2,000 hours of freezing or near-freezing temps, others require much less.
When the “chilling requirement” of a plant isn’t met, its growth cycle can be affected. When fruit trees, for example, don’t get the required amount of “chilling hours” during winter, it can result in lower yields and poor-quality or misshapen fruit. In general, when plants that need cold temperatures don’t get them, the health of the plants suffers. Unhealthy plants are more susceptible to insect infestation, disease and drought.
This applies to some crops too. Many varieties of winter wheat, for example, have a vernalization requirement. These crops need prolonged cooler temperatures for the biological process to take place for germination to occur. When the cold weather is missing, germination and crop health suffers.
Oftentimes, warmer winter temperatures can activate plant growth, resulting in the premature flow of sap, bud burst and even leaf growth. If this happens in the middle of winter, when the chances of a hard freeze are still high, the result can be fatal. If freezing temperatures arrive, new growth is destroyed and the tree or plant goes into shock. For species that yield one crop per season, premature bud burst followed by hard freeze can destroy the entire season.
In many regions, cold temperatures are also needed for insect control. Winter time is Armageddon for many insects. When winter arrives, some bugs leave town, some hunker down below ground, and others are killed. Cold temperatures play an important role in interrupting breeding cycles, reducing activity and keeping insect populations in check.
Unseasonably warm winters often mean more mosquitoes, more ticks, and more bugs—and the diseases that often come with them.
Point is, in many ecosystems there’s a need for pleasant 70-degree days as well as chilly 40-degree days, for a warm, inviting spring and a cold, uncomfortable winter. When these needs are not met, problems set in. The fragile balance within the ecosystem falters. Think about this the next time you step into a 70-degree day in the middle of winter.
Here at the Trumpet we don’t merely report on all the crazy weather occurrences happening on this planet. We encourage readers to ask serious questions about why these abnormalities are occurring. Few realize it, but there’s much, much more to the global weather patterns than what our local weatherman, or professor, or preacher, are telling us.
The Bible clearly reveals that mankind was created by God and set in a carefully crafted ecosystem that depends on laws, including agricultural, environmental and atmospheric laws (Genesis 1). It clearly explains that God created this planet—its systems of flora and fauna sustained by weather patterns—for the express purpose of mankind’s individual and collective physical, mental and spiritual development.
In Genesis 2:15 we learn that Adam was given the responsibility to dress and keep the Garden of Eden. He was called to be a farmer. Unlike most people today, Adam understood not only that the weather sustained his existence, but also that the weather was a function of God’s will and power!
The Bible makes this point plainly. Read Leviticus 26, and Deuteronomy 28, and 2 Chronicles 6:26, and Job 37:11-13, and Amos 4:7-9, and Nahum 1:3. The weather is a means by which the Creator communicates and interacts with mankind. In many cases, stable, consistent weather patterns were a sign that God was pleased. In other cases, such as these end times, chaotic, unpredictable, unseasonal weather patterns are a sign of God’s anger with mankind.
Few chapters in the Bible explain this as well as Leviticus 26. In the first 13 verses of the chapter, God outlines the blessings that will come should mankind obey His laws. Read for yourself what the very first blessing is: “Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield her fruit” (verse 4). Then, in verses 14 through 46, God outlines the curses for disobedience. Notice verse 20: “And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.” Look around. Isn’t it getting harder and harder, despite our advanced technologies, for our land to yield its increase—oftentimes because freakish weather is wreaking havoc?
This fundamental principle permeates the Bible: Weather is a measure of God’s happiness with mankind!
Here’s another wonderful promise from God: “If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways;then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14). What an inspiring promise from our Creator: He will heal our lands, if we humbly submit ourselves to Him, repent of our disobedience and eagerly embrace His law and government.
Perhaps you’ve never had much of an interest in the weather. And it certainly is easy to agree with the weatherman as he welcomes the unseasonably warm weather in the dead of winter. But as stories about abnormal and extreme weather patterns increasingly dominate international news—you’ve got to admit there’s been a deluge of reports lately about devastating droughts, floods, hurricanes, fires and so on—perhaps it’s time to consider getting back in touch with the land, and science and the Bible.
As a start, consider reading our free booklet Why ‘Natural’ Disasters? Also, if you haven’t watched it already, check out editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s latest Key of David television program titled “Why Natural Disasters.”