Our Atmosphere – Changing
When God created our atmospheric system, on the second day of creation, He did accomplished something that we underappreciate. Our atmospheric system is enormously complicated. There are layers and layers of gasses that are of varying composition and exist at varying temperatures for some 65 to 70 miles above us. These layers of gasses have a number of functions, not the least of which is to block harmful radiation and to perform chemical management and scrubbing duties. And then there are the more active layers of our atmosphere, closer to earth, that interact with our climate system and other earth systems, circulating air, transferring heat and moving storms along.
But since we can’t see our atmospheric system, we don’t normally stop to think about it at all. In fact, we very much take this amazing part of creation – this critical system that God put in place to sustain life on earth – for granted. Until, that is, it starts to change and malfunction, as is now the case.
Why is this happening? Christians will find the answer in their Bible. We find in Romans 5:12 and 6:23 that the consequence of sin is death. And by reading a little further, in Romans 8:21 & 22 we find that all the earth – all of creation – is corrupted and suffering because of sin. So the consequence of sin – death – extend to all the earth, not just to man. The Bible puts it very graphically in Isaiah 51:6. It says that the earth will grow old like a garment. And that image – of a once robust system now worn and weak and full of holes, is a good description of all earth’s natural systems.
One of the most significant problems that we see in the atmosphere right now is that our jet stream – very high altitude winds that are both powerful and fast – is not only slowing down but it is meandering significantly. Why would that possibly matter? Because our jet stream pushes our weather along. As the jet stream moves more slowly, weather persists for longer. Droughts are longer. Heat waves are longer. Cold snaps are longer. Rain storms are longer, meaning that what would have been a gentle blessing turns into flooding and disaster.
And because our jet stream is meandering more and more, weather is getting steered farther north and farther south than we have previously experienced. Very warm air is being steered right into the arctic region, where it dries out forests and helps create the conditions necessary for epic forest fires. The same warm air weakens and diminishes the arctic ice pack, which in turn affects the temperature differential between the arctic and the equator, which in slows down the jet stream further. It is a problematic feedback cycle.
As our atmosphere accelerates in its decay, it affects every other major earth system, including our oceanic system, fresh water system, climate system, and our soil system, with which we produce our food. God knitted together all these systems in perfection at creation, and they remain knitted together even as they suffer the cumulative effects of sin. What should be important to us, however, is that human society is built on the smooth functioning of these systems, and as they break down so, too, does human society. And as human society breaks down we see dramatically more conflict, dramatically, more disasters, dramatically more hunger and disease. And that is exactly what Christ said we would see just before His return, in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21.
Brothers and sisters, the earth itself is telling us that Christ is coming very, very soon. Its time to wake up and be vigorously about our Savior’s business of caring, comforting, and proclaiming the gospel.