State of the World and Fulfillment of Prophecy at the End of 2015

Read paragraph 237 (actually, from 228 on) for yourself2015 was a fascinating and busy year in terms of the fulfillment of prophecy and precursors of the fulfillment of prophecy.  Let’s review the earth system-by-system, looking at the mega-trends that are impacting human society and driving the fulfillment of prophecy.

The Atmosphere:  The decay and decline of our atmospheric system continued to accelerate in 2015, and was visible most clearly in the disorganization and slowing of our jet stream.  The jet stream steers storms and determines weather. There is normally a robust jet stream in place all year, with some slowing experienced in the respective summers of the north and south hemisphere (the jet stream functions something like a heat engine, powered by the disparity between heat at the equator and the poles.  As arctic or Antarctic temperatures warm in their summers, the respective hemispheric jet stream slows).  But as the northern hemisphere jet stream slowed and disorganized (meandered) far more than usual in 2015, we saw the introduction of extremely anomalous (unusual) weather patterns, including wide-spread drought, heat waves, and profoundly severe rain.  But more than anything else, we saw all of the above endure for  longer periods as the slowed jet stream pushed storms sluggishly, meaning that storm or weather pattern damage was far more significant that it otherwise would have been.

In addition to slowing, the atmosphere is also continuing to accumulate both more moisture and more storm energy.  As earth surface and ocean surface temperatures continue to climb, evaporation continues to accelerate.  This has two significant effects.  First, it means that there is more moisture in the air that is available to storms in the form of precipitation.  Second, there is an increasing amount of latent energy available to power (or super-power) storms.  Here is how latent energy works:  Converting water from liquid to vapor form requires a great deal of energy.  So, as evaporation happens, a great deal of energy is used and that energy stays with the water in vapor form.  But, when that vapor converts back to liquid phase, most of that heat energy becomes available in the atmosphere to ramp up the storm.

So, bottom line, as we see more evaporation, we see increasingly more severe storms and these storms are moving more and more slowly across the land, doing more and more damage.  This trend looks set to steadily increase as time goes on, so we can expect more and more damage to infrastructure and  agriculture with mounting costs to society and with poor countries least able to absorb those costs most impacted and with the greatest human suffering.

Our Oceans:  There were a number of notable changes to our oceans in 2015, all of which hastened an already rapid decline but that generally fell into two categories:  thermal effects and decay of life webs.  In the category of “thermal effects”, our oceans continued to warm to warm steadily.  2015 also saw the movement of massive amounts of warm water from the western Pacific to the eastern Pacific (an event known as “El Nino”), where that heat bled into the atmosphere and changed global weather patterns.  But, setting aside 2015’s record-setting El Nino, our oceans still continued to absorb heat at a record pace, and this has several effects.  First, with warmer water in our oceans, there is more evaporation, which means that our oceans can start storms more quickly and those storms can grow to greater power.  In addition, sea-levels are rising significantly.  This is partly because of all the melt we are seeing of Arctic and Greenland glaciers, but it is mostly because warming water expands ever so slightly.  So, as our oceans warm we are getting more and more “nuisance flooding” during high tides, especially along the east coast of the US, and we are now also getting much more serious storm surge risks in the US and elsewhere.

Our oceans are not uniformly warmer; some areas are actually colder.  Take the north Atlantic, for instance.  There is a “cool pool” in the north Atlantic that is worth looking at in closer detail, because it has wide-spread impacts.  The cool pool extends over a massive area south of Iceland.  This cool pool is basically melt water from a rapidly-melting Greenland.  The melt water is less salty than the rest of the ocean and therefore the water is lighter and floats on top of the saltier water.  The extent of the cool pool can be seen in the sea-surface temperature anomaly map below.  This cool pool has a massive effect on global oceans and particularly on the Atlantic and Caribbean because it disrupts the current that travels from the Caribbean to the Nordic states.  Here is what happens:  This current passes along the US east coast, then heads north, evaporating as it goes.  This warm current goes all the way to the coast of Finland, warming the region and riding above the cooler water that prevails there.  However, as it evaporates it gets saltier and thus heavier.  When it finally cools, it sinks rapidly to the bottom of the ocean, pulling the current behind it along.  The whole process is driven by temperature differentials.  But when that current hits the cool pool, it stops.  When it stops, the water behind it “backs up”.  There is actually a ‘bulge” in water along  the US east coast of some eight inches.  So what we have is water off the US east coast that is getting warmer and warmer, and it is immediately adjacent to cool water.  This is called a “dipole” condition and it is essentially a cradle for serious storms.  In fact, this dipole is a one reason England had record storms and record floods in 2015 (a situation that looks set to continue into 2016).

SSTA Jan 15 2016

(In the  map above you can clearly see the record-breaking El Nino off the western coast of Central America and stretching to the central Pacific.  You can also see the “cool pool” south of Iceland that has  disrupted current flow in the Atlantic and you can see the extreme accumulation of heat off the east coast of the US and Canada as a result  of this current “backing up”.   This situation essentially amounts to a second “El Nino” and has the capacity to disrupt global weather patterns, with the strongest effects felt in the Eastern US and in western Europe).

As far as the life webs of the ocean are concerned, 2015 continued to see an accelerating decline in fish stocks globally, as well as serious concerns about the viability of reefs (the cradle of the seas).  From phytoplankton to whales, life webs in the oceans are failing and falling apart.  The current projection that commercial fish stocks will be 100% depleted on a global basis by 2050 is beginning to look optimistic, which is profoundly bad news for the 1 billion people who rely on the oceans for their food.

Our Fresh Water System:  2015 was a year of profound disruption in our global fresh water system, mostly due to drought and aquifer over-use.  Drought in 2015 was pandemic.  That is to say, it was practically everywhere.  But then, we expected it to be.  Take a look at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (a US government agency) map below.  These maps, produced a few years ago, show the expected change in rainfall patterns globally as a result of a warming planet.  As you can see, most major agricultural areas the world over are strongly impacted.  This particular map shows where we expect to be in 15 years or so, based on the best modeling available, so it is no surprise that we are making our way there steadily.

NOAA 2039 Projection

Man’s first and best strategy for beating droughts has always been to pump water from underground.  It has been a sound strategy, even allowing industrial agriculture to go on uninterrupted during droughts.  But recently, and globally, this strategy has proven to be short-sighted as massive aquifer after aquifer has started playing out.  Aquifers can take millennia to recharge, and we have pumped most of  the world’s major aquifers to near depletion in less than three generations.  We saw this fact profoundly underlined in 2015 as major population areas the world over dealt with two crises at once: drought and low aquifer water availability.  Accordingly, we also saw water availability as a driving factor in some forced migration and refugee surges.  Such surges had a destabilizing effect on communities and governments around the world, with the conflicts in Europe most widely publicized.  We are only a few years away from grave societal disruptions (and conflict, and disease, and death) as a result  of truly major water shortages.

Our Climate System:  Where to start?  The climate is the sum of many moving parts, most of which are covered in greater detail elsewhere in this post.  Suffice it to say that 2015 was a year of significant disruption in our global climate system, and that the impacts of that disruption on human society are just beginning to be felt.  Every indication says that we can expect to see a continuation of rapid decay in our climate system.

Our Cryosphere:  The term “cryosphere” refers to the frozen parts of the earth, specifically the Arctic and Antarctic, but also those frozen areas outside  of the poles, including Greenland and the heights of the Himalayas.  Throughout the cryosphere, we saw melt and mass reduction in 2015.  In the Antarctic, we saw melt from underneath the ice, which destabilized vast glacial fields and has scientists warning of a triggered tipping point that will result in a “draining” of ice from the Antarctic and a massive surge in sea-level rise over the next century.  In the Arctic, we saw a continued trend in rapidly shrinking ice extent, and in particular a continuation of the trend that sees old pack ice being replaced with new ice, which is thin and weak.  This is a concern because as the Arctic ice field shrinks, the Arctic Sea warms more and more, and so do land masses.  This results in less and less ice being able to reform each winter, and to massive fires in Alaska, Canada, and Siberia, such as we witnessed in 2015.  And of course, with less ice in the Arctic, we see the temperature difference between the Arctic and the equator shrinking each year, which in turn slows the jet stream, which completely messes up weather and increases catastrophes, etc.  It is a dysfunctional feedback situation that we are seeing repeated in many natural systems around the world.

Our Soil System:  Our soil system has, on a global basis, been converted from its natural, living state, to a “dead” state by industrial agriculture.  Our soil system as God designed it was made up of dirt (sand, rocks, etc.) as well as decaying vegetable matter (humus) and a very healthy population of micro-organisms, fungi, and bacteria.  The whole living system worked together to nurture plants and provide them with all the nutrients and minerals needed to grow.  But, as a living system, it had its limits — we could only get so much output per unit of earth, and we had to put things in (like manure or crop residues) to keep the system going.  So  we turned instead to chemical-based nutrients (fertilizers) and to chemical suppression of weeds and pests.  It was cheaper and we could grow more.  But these chemicals killed off all the microorganisms and fungi and bacteria, leaving just dirt – rocks and sand.  Now, on a global basis, we are unable to return to natural agriculture since we cannot “resuscitate” chemically saturated dirt.  We have no choice but to continue chemical agriculture.  At the same time, the effect of chemical saturation is making industrial agriculture unviable in more and more places.  This problem, combined with the draining of aquifers and the conversion of climate from nurturing to hostile, is setting up a significant global food disaster in the near term.  It is coming, and we progress steadily toward that crisis, but it isn’t here yet.  Until it does come, we can actually expect a continued decrease in food prices since the primary input of industrial agriculture – oil – has collapsed in price.

All in all, 2015 saw us move much closer to a world condition that Christ described in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21.  Of course, we also moved much closer to (I would actually argue that we arrived at) conditions as described by Ellen White in her book Testimonies for the Church page 408.1:

“The restraining Spirit of God is even now being withdrawn from the world. Hurricanes, storms, tempests, fire and flood, disasters by sea and land, follow each other in quick succession. Science seeks to explain all these. The signs thickening around us, telling of the near approach of the Son of God, are attributed to any other than the true cause. Men cannot discern the sentinel angels restraining the four winds that they shall not blow until the servants of God are sealed; but when God shall bid His angels loose the winds, there will be such a scene of strife as no pen can picture.”

In 2015, I think we particularly saw “science seeks to explain all these”.  To be clear:  I believe we are seeing prophecy fulfilled before our eyes.  And the attempt at explaining and offering solutions did not stop with scientists: the Pope also became heavily involved through the publication of his “Laudato Si” encyclical, which offers a host of technical fixes for a world whose natural systems are in steep decline.  However, and somewhat oddly, the Pope only offered technical fixes.  The Pope did not acknowledge the effect of sin, nor the implications of prophecy in the decline of the earth.  Instead, he treated the earth as if it would last forever, and asserted that it needed a really, really, good central management plan so that it was sustainable essentially forever.  In light of prophecy (see Planet In Distress Bible Study), this is an odd view for the leader of the world’s largest church to take.  But the Pope goes further, and in a little-noticed passage in paragraph 237, the asserts that celebrating the Eucharist heals relationships and heals the earth, and that celebrating Eucharist on Sunday is especially important.

So let’s take a clear look at this:  We have a natural world spiraling out of control, we have a distracted, pleasure-seeking human population paying scant attention, and we have a Pope saying, essentially, that the spiritual fix for the problem is Sunday worship, explicitly including the celebration of the Eucharist.  Read paragraph 237 (actually, from 228 on) for yourself, and let me know if you think I am over-stating the case.

Now, taking what the Pope said and the fullness of what is happening to the world, read this quote from EG White, from the June 28, 1904 edition of The Southern Watchman:

“Men in responsible positions will not only ignore and despise the Sabbath themselves, but from the sacred desk will urge upon the people the observance of the first day of the week, pleading traditions and custom in behalf of this man-made institution.  They will point to calamities on land and sea-to the storms of wind, the floods, the earthquakes, the destruction by fire – as judgments indicating God’s displeasure because Sunday is not sacredly observed.  These calamities will increase more and more, one disaster will follow close upon the heels of another; and those who make void the law of God will point to the few who are keeping the Sabbath of the fourth commandment as the ones who are bringing wrath upon the world.”

I am satisfied that we are seeing the literal fulfillment of prophecy right in front of our eyes.  We are living in the last days, and we can witness the underpinnings of the little time of trouble being put in place.  We also, I think, can see the start of a framework being put in place that results in persecution for those who insist on keeping Sabbath, and results in their being blamed for catastrophes falling on the earth because they refuse to participate in a ritual that will “heal” the earth.

2015 was an amazing year in which the effects of sin on man and earth continued to accumulate.  There is very, very little time left for this earth, and the last events will be rapid ones.  Are you ready?

Scott Christiansen