There Is No “Normal” Anymore: The Significant Disruptions Have Begun
Yes, it is an El Nino year. And yes, this El Nino is one of the strongest on record, if not the strongest. But still, what we are seeing on a global basis is far more than just El Nino. In fact, El Nino only serves to both exacerbate and mask the disruptions going on. Taken together, what is going on around the world is jaw-dropping: the four-season storms in the south-central US, the epic flooding in northern UK, the ongoing droughts in South America, Asia and Australia, the drought and crop failures in Africa, the astonishing instability in the North Atlantic, including what amounted to a cold-core hurricane in December centered over Iceland. We have entered an era where the disruptions in the natural world have the attention of all nations (and the Pope) and where these disruptions are beginning to bleed over into national economies, causing significant disruption.
What we are seeing is, of course, the steep and accelerating decay of the natural systems that God put in place to sustain life on earth. This decay is caused by nothing less than the cumulative effect of sin on the earth. This may be a new concept for you. Indeed, when people think of the effects of sin, they almost universally think sin’s impact on man. The earth itself doesn’t enter into the equation. This bias or blind spot is not Biblical, and it probably exists because, up until this generation, we couldn’t see the accelerating decline in the space of a human lifetime. But now, we can see the decline in far less than a human lifetime and it is time to study what the Bible has to say on the subject. To do this on an in-depth basis, please see my previous post, “Planet In Distress Bible Study”.
The reason all this is important is because the accelerating decline of our natural earth not only impacts billions of people and results in conflict, hunger, and disease, but also because in doing these things, it also drives the fulfillment of prophecy and shows that we are very far along in terms of last-day events. The sum of events around us tell us that we truly are at the place where we should be waking up. We should be forsaking and turning fully away from the world, and vigorously proclaiming the soon coming our Jesus. The change in us should be as radical or more radical than the change in the world. Again, see the Bible study for a fuller discussion on this.
Proclaiming that the significant disruptions have begun is a pretty radical thing to do, not least because of the implied response in the lives of Christians who are watching for Christ and who are making His coming a central focus in their lives (see Matthew 25:1-13). Making this proclamation is not without risk, because if things go back to “normal” later this year, then “crying wolf” will not assist this ministry in any way. So, with risk involved, why do I make this proclamation? Well, it has to do with the sum of my observations and with seeing far more than just El Nino at work.
Let me give you an example, and it is an example that anyone who has ever gone water skiing will easily understand. Lets say that the earth is represented by a lake, and disruptions to the earth’s natural systems are represented by waves on the surface of the lake. A single wave crossing the lake is easy to see and given the nature of waves, it is also pretty easy to tell where it originated from (just like the concentric circles radiating from a rock thrown into the middle of a pond can pin-point where the rock landed, even when they are a hundred feet away). When there are two, three, four or more large waves on the lake, all going in separate directions, then it is much harder to pinpoint the source of the disruption because of surface chaos on the lake. But, at the same time, it is possible to clearly see the waves interact. When waves cross each other in a lake, they don’t just go through each other. The energy in the waves is cumulative as they intersect, and the water is piled up higher as a result Anyone who has waterskied has seen a motor boat go around in tight circles, and has seen the amazing chop that results in the center of that circle as multiple waves intersect. The waves can mount up to six feet sometimes, and it is miserable (and dangerous) to be a downed skier in the midst of such waves.
The point I am trying to make here is that, when you look around the globe at all the things going on, it is obvious that there are a lot more influences than just El Nino. The “waves” in the water – the disruptions to natural systems and human society – are too many and coming from disparate directions. But when these waves intersect, we see ever-more significant disruptions. In the North Atlantic, for instance, we can see El Nino influence, but we can also see profound long-term trends with the growing Greenland cool pool and the blocking of the AMOC current, both of which set up a dipole which is implicated in the epic flooding and storms that are laying siege to the UK now.
My point here is that El Nino will come and El Nino will go but the forces at work — the rapidly accelerating decay of the earth’s natural systems — have built to the point where they are becoming ever more obvious and ever more obviously unstoppable. This has profound implications for a world (and Pope) that are already watching the earth carefully and crafting responses. We are already seeing the fulfillment of Luke 21:26, as we see well-informed people either panicking or despairing over what is coming on the earth. When it becomes obvious that this is a mounting existential threat to human society, who will the world turn to? Before we come to the crisis points that are directly in front of us, we need to be fervently sowing as much seed as possible, that it may sprout and flourish in the imminent latter rain. Let us be about this work.
I want to close by using a small data point to illustrate a bit of what I am talking about. If you go to the excellent Charctic site (which charts and graphs the ebb and flow of seasonal ice pack in the Arctic) and you limit the years displayed on the interactive graph to 2015 and 2016, you will see that the Arctic icepack extent (surface area) was extremely low for this time of year. You will also see that the last three days of 2015 marked a remarkably slow growth of the ice pack, something that is very rare in January. In fact, the area of the Arctic icepack on December 29, 30, and 31st, respectively, was (in millions of square kilometers) 12.759, 12.783, and 12.804. Then, on January 1, 2016, the area of the Arctic icepack was 12.798 million square kilometers. The icepack shrunk. In January. This is absolutely unheard of. It just does not happen. Yes, there was rain at the north pole in late December but, as massive as the Arctic is, the growth and loss of ice at the edge of the pack is taking place a long, long way from the north pole. But even with the polar rain, ice pack shrinkage in January just doesn’t happen. Ever. Interestingly, the reading for January 2 was 12.798 million square kilometers — unchanged from January 1.
The important thing here is that for us to have flat growth and then actual ice loss in the arctic in January, we needed to see system disruption far beyond El Nino. We saw a weakening and breakdown of the jet stream, a breakdown of the polar vortex, a series of raging storms spanning from Iceland to the Bering sea, each of which helped pull warm air over the Arctic. And to see this we needed the breakdown of the Northern Atlantic and the dipole around Iceland. Our systems are falling apart and it isn’t because of El Nino. It is because of the accumulated effects of sin, which are in turn driving the fulfillment of prophecy and practically shouting that Jesus is coming soon.
Expect ice loss in the Arctic to make headlines this year. And as you read those headlines, remember that the effects of sin extend not just to man but to the earth itself. And remember that the earth itself is crying out that Jesus is coming soon.