In both secular and religious discourse, there has been disagreement as to whether global warming actually exists. In secular discussion, there has been disputes about whether global warming measurements are accurate, and even if they are, whether global warming is being driven by man-made emissions or by some natural, reoccurring cycle.
We will argue that man-made carbon emissions have resulted in a gradual warming trend in both atmospheric temperatures and ocean water temperatures. We will take the argument further, and discuss how man-made global warming has triggered a number of ‘natural’ cycles which will not only intensify global warming, but will result in a ‘sudden’ acceleration of warming trends. Lastly, we will address the question of whether global warming has a role in bringing about the realization of prophecies in Revelation — whether, indeed, it will act as the Hand of God.
Is global warming real?
In Genesis, we are told that God created the universe, and everything that can found within the universe. He created the stars and the Earth. He created all life that that can be found in this world. By extension, one could argue that God also created all science — the rules that govern our body and all life in this world (biology), the rules that govern the stars (astrophysics), and the rules that govern our Earth (geology, weather science, ocean science, etc). Given this, could not God use the working of the natural world to bring about His will?
Man did not ‘invent’ science. Science is merely man’s attempt to understand the workings of God’s creation. Man may misinterpret what he finds and come to the wrong conclusions, but that does not invalidate the data or the reality of the rules that govern the natural world. The hard data that is being gathered by various scientific organizations is unanimous in clearly showing that average global temperatures are rising.
The NASA data, as seen in the above chart, clearly shows a very distinct rising trend in average global temperatures. The world is becoming a warmer place, and the data conclusively shows that global warming is a real phenomena. Within the overall global warming trend, some areas are suffering larger than average increases in temperatures as seen in the image below.
Though the above ‘heat map’ is a snap shot for the month of February of this year, it is representative of the larger warming trends. It shows that the Arctic regions are warming at a considerably faster rate than rest of the world. The map shows that the Arctic regions across North America and Europe (including Russia) was warmer than the baseline averages (1890 to 1910 base average) by more than 10 degrees centigrade. This is considerable higher than the global average increase of less than 2 degrees. This huge increase in Arctic temperatures is melting the northern polar ice to such a degree, that it is possible for the complete disappearance of Arctic ice as early as this summer. There can be no clearer symbol of global warming than a North pole with no ice to be seen.
What is causing global warming?
The main body of global warming research focuses on man’s role in discharging carbon into the atmosphere. The use of fossil fuel for energy has been universally declared one of the main culprits. Whether it is use of oil and coal to generate electricity, or the use of fuel to power our cars and airplanes, man’s use of carbon based fuels has spewed enough carbon into the atmosphere to warm up the entire globe. Given this, weather scientists have generated models for global warming which only factor in man-made sources of carbon emissions. Based on this approach, these models forecast a steady, linear rise in average global temperatures. Their research generally conclude that any catastrophic effects of global warming will not occur until the next century, and that there is still time to implement changes to halt global warming. However, there is a massive flaw in their assumptions — these researchers have ignored the ‘natural’ global warming cycles which have been triggered by man-made global warming.
Natural Warming Cycles
There are two known and powerful natural warming processes which have been triggered by man’s carbon emissions. The first relates to the release of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a naturally occurring gas which is twenty times more potent than carbon, when it comes to global warming. One place it is found is in the world’s oceans. The methane is in a frozen state, in the form of methane hydrates. The other place it is found is in permafrost, which forms in the Arctic regions — again, it lies dormant, in a frozen state. In both cases, the methane exists in tremendous quantities and up until recently, also in both cases, the methane was safely locked away in its frozen state. However, this is no longer the case — man-made global warming has sufficiently warmed the earth to start self-reinforcing methane melting cycles.
The map above shows that there are large deposits of methane hydrates in coastal areas around the globe. For perhaps millions of years, these deposits of methane hydrates laid undisturbed and frozen at the bottom of the ocean. However, global warming has not only caused atmospheric temperatures to rise, but it has also caused the ocean’s waters to increased in temperature.
As the data in the above graph shows, average ocean water temperatures have been rising and trending higher for over forty years. Though the overall average increase in ocean temperatures may not seem significant, it has been sufficient enough to begin melting the methane hydrates found along the coastal regions. There are already numerous anecdotal reports of methane hydrates melting off the east and west coasts of North America. Despite the tremendous amount of methane hydrates that lie frozen in the ocean depths, waiting to be melted by increasing ocean temperatures, most scientists are sanguine, arguing that the methane with break down in the deep waters of the ocean, before it can ever reach the atmosphere. However, it is a mistake to be so dismissive of the threat that melting methane hydrates pose. The eastern Siberian sea, which is located to the north of Russia, in its eastern most boundaries, is a very shallow sea — most of it is less than 100 meters deep. The seabed of this region has been locked in permafrost for tens of thousands of years — and frozen away in that permafrost is an unimaginable store of methane.
While scientists may be able to ignore the melting of methane hydrates in the world’s oceans, they cannot ignore the release of methane from another, more dangerous source — from the Arctic permafrost.
The above map shows the extent of the land-based permafrost in the Arctic region (e.g. the permafrost under the east Siberian sea is not indicated). It has been estimated that permafrost presents about 20% of the Earth’s land mass — which represents a very large portion of the Earth. As you can see by the map, the bulk of the permafrost can be found in Canada and Russia. What is not shown in the map is the permafrost that lies below the ocean, in particular in the East Siberian Sea (which is found in the Arctic region).
We have previously seen that the Arctic region, the very same region that is home to the world’s permafrost, has had an increase in atmospheric temperature to over 10 degrees centigrade above its recent historic norms. This is melting the permafrost during the summer months, and in that process large amounts of methane is being released into the atmosphere.
This melting of the permafrost and the subsequent release of methane gas represents a self-reinforcing, global warming process. The Arctic air temperatures have risen to the point of melting the permafrost in the summer months. As the permafrost melts, it releases methane into the atmosphere. The methane, 20 times more potent than carbon as a warming agent, causes a further warming in the Arctic region. This causes more permafrost to melt, releasing ever greater quantities of methane — now that this cycle has been initiated, it will not only continue, but it will also accelerate over time.
A parallel natural global warming process has begun in the east Siberian sea. The ocean water temperatures are rising (both surface temperatures and deep water temperatures). Once the ocean water temperature of the east Siberian sea rises sufficiently to melt the permafrost found on the ocean floor of that region (Russian scientists have already sited findings of methane plumes rising out of that region), the threat of a catastrophic release of methane exists (inclusive of land based permafrost as well).
Besides the natural global warming process relating to Arctic methane release, there is another, perhaps equally potent natural global warming process — one which could be a major factor in the rise of the ocean’s temperatures. This natural global warming cycle is occurring at in the Antarctica region, at the end of the world. This process has been triggered by the warming of the ocean temperatures, which has been caused by man-made global warming.
To fully appreciate the dynamics of this process, one must first understand that a large portion of the Antarctica continent is below sea level — the weight of the accumulated ice has pushed the land mass down and after millennials of time, much of the Antarctica land mass is hundreds of meters below sea level. Given this, it is easy to see how the warmer temperatures of the world’s oceans are now melting the Antarctica land based ice — as the land is hundreds of meters below sea level, which means along much of the shore line, vertically, hundreds of meters of ice is exposed to the ocean’s warmer temperatures.
Scientists have discovered that the melting freshwater from the Antarctica ice (both from land-based ice and from floating ice shelves) has formed a distinct, stratified layer under the surface of the ocean. This layer of fresh water under the surface has been growing as the Antarctica ice melts at an increasing rate due to the rising ocean temperatures. This freshwater layer has grown to a sufficient size where it is now acting as a ‘lid’, that is preventing ocean mixing.
The world’s oceans are all interlinked by a phenomena known as the thermohaline circulation. Basically, the thermohaline circulation is the global system of ocean currents that drives water from the Antarctica region to the equatorial regions and further to the Arctic regions, where the current then heads back south until it eventually once again reaches the southern polar area. It is in the southern polar regions of Antarctica where most of the ‘ocean mixing’ occurs, where the warmer, deeper water is driven to the surface and is cooled by mixing with the colder surface water. Once the water is chilled sufficiently, it once again sinks to the bottom of the ocean, forming ‘bottom water’ that once again flows northward to the equatorial regions. The freshwater lid that we mentioned previously is hindering and stopping this ocean mixing, with the result that the water flowing back northward from Antarctica is now warmer in temperature. As this warmer water flows towards the equator, it becomes even warmer due to the increasing global temperatures. Thus we can see that by this phenomena, a new and very potent, natural global warming cycle has begun. The warmer ocean temperatures will melt the Antarctica ice at an increasing rate, causing the freshwater lid to continue to expand, which will further hinder any ocean mixing in the southern polar region (which represents the vast bulk of ocean mixing as mixing in the Arctic region is minor at best). The decreasing amount of ocean mixing results in sending increasingly warmer water back northward via the thermocline circulation currents, and the ongoing increase in the ocean’s water temperatures will cause a further rise in global atmospheric temperatures. The power of this natural global warming cycle must not be underappreciated.
We have argued that God created the universe, the world we live on, and all life found in our world. As such, God also created the rules that govern our physical world — man’s search to understand those rules can be considered ‘science’. Scientists may deny God, but that does not mean science is proof that there is no God.
As science is merely man’s attempt to understand the rules that govern God’s creation, we can find it perfectly consistent that the ‘science’ surrounding global warming can be considered valid and not contrary to our beliefs concerning God. I would go one step further and argue that global warming and its reverberations will bring about many of the prophecies found in the Book of Revelation — indeed, global warming may indeed prove to be the Hand of God.
The Hand of God?
For the moment, let us step away from global warming and examine some of the prophecies found in Revelation. The prophecies of Revelation foretell numerous events that will occur prior to the return of Christ. The prophecies have many implications — political, economic, and social. They also have implications for the natural world — and global warming.
The first prophecy that has a direct connection to a warming world can be found in Revelation 7:7, where it is written (English Standard version):
The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.
There could be a number of scenarios where by 1/3 of the world’s trees were burned up. The Cecil B. Demill version (the director of Heston’s Moses flick) is where 1/3 of the world’s trees erupt in spontaneous combustion, mysteriously ignited by the power of God. Whereas all things are possible with God, I would argue that God can use the power of His creation, use the working of the natural world, to bring about this prophecy. The natural global warming processes can very well continue to warm the world to the extent that 1/3 of the world’s forest are devastated. The boreal forests of the Arctic regions are already suffering from historic heat. This in turn has caused a massive insect pest invasion which is killing millions of trees. Th combination of these two assaults have led to massive forest fires from California to Washington, from Canada to Russia. In another part of the world, the Amazon rain forest in Brazil, is suffering from a lack of rain — which is also killing millions of trees, tendering them vulnerable to fire as temperatures rise further. I would argue that these are indeed signs of Revelation, and the prophecies found within.
In Revelation 16:8, we can find a prophecy with an even more direct connection to a massive global warming heat spike:
The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did no repent and give him glory.
The people of the entire world will suffer from a mighty blast of scorching heat from the sun. It is entirely possible that God can use His power to make this happen in a sudden and unexpected fashion. However, it can also be argued that the Arctic will continue to warm until there is a cataclysmic release of methane from the Arctic permafrost and from the East Siberia Sea, and as this methane envelops the world, global average temperatures will soar by 10 degrees centigrade (which was the degree of warming experienced in the Arctic this February). This would indeed cause the sun to scorch our world.
Aside from these prophecies with a direct connection with catastrophic global warming, there are a number of prophecies which can be linked to secondary effects of an intensely warmer world. In Revelation 8:8-9, it is written:
The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. A third of the living creatures int the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
We have previously documented the fact that global warming is causing the world’s oceans to warm. Besides absorbing more heat from the world’s rising temperatures, we have discussed a more powerful natural warming process, where the ocean mixing in the Antarctica region is failing, resulting in warmer water flowing back northward, via the hydroceline circulation currents. This is relevant to the above prophecy, as warmer ocean temperatures are conducive for the growth of the sea algae Karenia brevis, more commonly referred to as ‘red tide’. This causal relationship can be seen off the coast of northern California. The waters off the northern California coast have been suffering from abnormally high temperatures. This in turn has resulted in a monstrous red tide bloom that stretched all the way to Canada. In May of this year, because of higher ocean temperatures caused by El Nino, Chile also suffered from a crippling red tide. As rising atmospheric temperatures continue to warm the oceans and as the break down of ocean mixing turns to a total collapse, we can expect the world’s oceans to continue to warm — eventually growing so warm that 1/3 of the world’s oceans become engulfed in a red tide, turning the water blood red and killing all life trapped in its waters.
There is another prophecy which can be related to the reverberations of global warming. It is found in Revelation 8:10-11, where it is written:
The third angle blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter.
We would argue that this prophecy can also come about as a secondary effect from intense global warming. Just as in our oceans, fresh water bodies can also suffer from harmful algae blooms (aka HABs). A combination of factors are usually required, the most potent being phosphorus from agricultural fertilizer runoffs and high temperatures — with the latter being the key driver.
The link between higher temperatures and freshwater HABs has been demonstrated in the study of the Planktothrix rubescens, a toxic cyanobacterium algae, found in the lakes of the Northern Hemisphere ( i.e. North America, Europe, China and Russia).
Ordinarily, the cold winters freeze the lakes, and come spring and summer, when the water warms, the change in water temperature creates a natural mixing of water, where the water at the bottom of the lake rises and the water at the top of the lake sinks. This process kills the toxic algae Planktothrix rubescens. However, as global warming has increased winter temperatures, this has resulted in a decrease of the natural mixing process that hindered the growth of this HAB. As temperatures continue to warm, the population of this toxic algae will increase and flourish. Catastrophic global warming has the potential to warm the lakes of the Northern Hemisphere to such a degree that the population of this toxic algae can explode, rendering the water unfit for human consumption, killing those we risk drinking it. This could be the natural mechanism by which global warming brings about the prophecy of third trumpet call.
We have made a very bold argument, that not only is global warming real, but also that it will be instrumental in bringing about many of the prophecies in Revelation — both by direct as well as by indirect means. The data on the rise of average global atmospheric temperature as well the rise in average ocean water temperature is supported by numerous scientific organizations and by independent studies. Even if you may disagree as to the cause of global warming, the disappearing Arctic polar ice cap (in the summer) is powerful proof that the world is warming.
We have also taken a very bold position, arguing that man-made global warming has worsen to the point of triggering powerful natural global warming processes, which are self-reinforcing. The implication is clear — no matter how much man may reduce his carbon emissions going forward, it is too late. The self-reinforcing cycle of methane release in the Arctic region will cause average global temperatures to continue to climb higher. The same is true with the other natural warming process triggered in Antarctica. The warming ocean water is melting the land based ice in Antarctica, which has suppressed ocean mixing, and this will cause the ocean water temperatures to increase even more. These two natural warming processes will result in a sharp and sudden acceleration in the rise of average global temperatures, and the surging heat spikes will bring about many of the prophecies found in Revelation — thus serving as the Hand of God.