Drought Conditions Reach Crisis Levels

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Drought Conditions Reach Crisis Levels

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The world set some unpleasant records in 1995, according to a report released by the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research group. Among their conclusions: It's hotter, and there is less to eat!

The group's 169-page report "Vital Signs 1996" strongly focuses on what it sees to be a worsening global climate leading to grain shortages, mounting weather-related insurance claims and anticipated global food-price hikes.

"In an era of high technology, humanity is suddenly struggling in 1996 with one of the most ancient challenges: how to make it to the next harvest," warned Lester R. Brown, leader of the environmental research group for the last two decades.

Citing statistics from both government and private sources, the institute reports records in 1995 for several factors central to human welfare:

  • The global grain harvest was the worst since 1988, and world grain reserves-the amount of grain available to humanity if all grain production ceased-reached an all-time low of only 48 days' consumption.
  • Insurance companies paid out $48 billion for weather-related damage in the first half of the 1990s, compared to $16 billion for the entire decade of the 1980s.
  • The global climate was the warmest since systematic records began to be kept 130 years ago. The average worldwide temperature hit 59.7 degrees Fahrenheit (15.39 degrees Celsius).

 

Weather problems hit close to home

At the same time, worsening drought conditions in many areas of the United States and Mexico are leading many farmers and ranchers to draw uneasy comparisons to the infamous dust-bowl days of the 1930s, when prolonged drought devastated large areas of the lower Midwest.

Lack of feed caused by drought in Texas and other states has forced many cattle ranchers to sell large portions of their herds-even their expensive breeding stock. This has resulted in a temporary glut in the market, causing beef prices to plummet. At some cattle sales, some farmers and ranchers have had to load their cows back onto their trailers and take them back home because nobody would even bid on them. High feed costs, low beef prices and a drought that has destroyed thousands of acres of pastures have put them in an extremely precarious situation!

What was a serious problem has grown to crisis proportions in Texas, according to Charles Carter, executive director of the Cattlemen's Association of Texas. "We have started to see that a lot of our producers who have just been trying to hang on and hang on and hang on, all of a sudden they can't hang on anymore," he said.

Much of the Midwest, the U.S. breadbasket, is suffering through one of the worst droughts of the century. Many wheat farmers in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado gave up on this year's wheat harvest and have plowed it under. Prices of grain are going up in anticipation of a short supply come harvesttime.

In Oklahoma alone, state agriculture officials predicted that an estimated 7,000 wheat producers will go bankrupt or cease farming after statewide drought-related losses of more than $1 billion. In Texas, agricultural losses caused by drought are expected to total between $2 billion and $4 billion this year, according to state officials. Throughout the region, many crops are the smallest in decades.

While some parts of the country have suffered from lack of rain, other parts had to contend with early spring floods. The resulting crop losses make it likely that food prices will increase in the next year. Beyond that, is it possible that food shortages could follow before the end of this century?

God gives the rain

Man has been able to accomplish awesome achievements in this age of technology. However, humanity has no power to make it rain to water the soil that is the source of the food we must have to survive. Unless rain falls sufficiently and consistently from the clouds above us, we are in serious trouble.

According to the Bible, God gives the rain that makes possible the bountiful harvests for us to feed ourselves. "God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things which we cannot comprehend. For He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth'; likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength" (Job 37:5-6 Job 37:5-6 [5] God thunders marvelously with his voice; great things does he, which we cannot comprehend. [6] For he said to the snow, Be you on the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength.
American King James Version×
).

Anciently God chose Israel to be His special people-a people with which He would share His laws. He gave the Israelites the holy Scriptures and told them that if they would live by the ways He was teaching them and be an example for other nations, He would bless them more than any nation had been blessed before. Among those blessings was the promise of good weather for their crops and orchards. "And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil" (Deuteronomy 11:13-14 Deuteronomy 11:13-14 [13] And it shall come to pass, if you shall listen diligently to my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, [14] That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your corn, and your wine, and your oil.
American King James Version×
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However, God also warned them that if they turned away from His instructions, they would suffer, among other consequences, drought and famine. "Take heed to yourselves . . . lest the LORD'S anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you" (verses 16-17).

Consequences of forgetting God

The ancient Israelites became a great nation. In time they grew to become more wealthy than the other nations around them. They were able to invent and manufacture many things that made life easier and more enjoyable for them. But they forgot where all those things came from. Soon the things they owned became more important to them than the One who provided them. "Their land is also full of silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is also full of horses, and there is no end to their chariots. Their land is also full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made" (Isaiah 2:7-8 Isaiah 2:7-8 [7] Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots: [8] Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made:
American King James Version×
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The prophet Jeremiah also spoke of how Judah turned away from God: "But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart; they have revolted and departed. They do not say in their heart, 'Let us now fear the LORD our God, who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season. He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest'" (Jeremiah 5:23-24 Jeremiah 5:23-24 [23] But this people has a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone. [24] Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that gives rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserves to us the appointed weeks of the harvest.
American King James Version×
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Sadly, Israel did not heed the warnings of God's prophets. One way God chastened His people was by turning off their source of water. "I also withheld rain from you, when there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part w was rained upon, and where it did not rain the part withered" (Amos 4:7 Amos 4:7And also I have withheld the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain on one city, and caused it not to rain on another city: one piece was rained on, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.
American King James Version×
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Parallels to our time

Are there parallels with our situation today? The founding fathers of the United States were well aware that its national blessings came not from human efforts, but from God's divine providence. Yet today many have largely forgotten that fact.

Over the years, the United States became a great nation because of the good things that God provided. He gave millions of acres of fertile soil. Over the years the nation enjoyed good weather. Back-to-back years of harsh weather have been rare. As a nation, where would it have been without those wonderful resources from the good earth that God gave?

It sounds as if God allowed David to look into our time when he wrote Psalms 55:9-11 Psalms 55:9-11 [9] Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues: for I have seen violence and strife in the city. [10] Day and night they go about it on the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the middle of it. [11] Wickedness is in the middle thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets.
American King James Version×
: ". . . I see violence and riots in the city, surrounding it day and night, filling it with crime and trouble. There is destruction everywhere; the streets are full of oppression and fraud" (Today's English Version).

Could it happen again?

Is it possible that God is again withholding rains, using the weather to discipline a people? America has largely turned from God. The pursuit of pleasure and material things has become more important than honoring Him.

Sooner or later, God brings all nations and kingdoms to an accounting. "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth . . . He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff" (Isaiah 40:22-24 Isaiah 40:22-24 [22] It is he that sits on the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretches out the heavens as a curtain, and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in: [23] That brings the princes to nothing; he makes the judges of the earth as vanity. [24] Yes, they shall not be planted; yes, they shall not be sown: yes, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow on them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble.
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Unless we get back to some of the basics of how to live, as defined by God in the Bible, we face the loss of our prosperous, comfortable way of life. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7 Galatians 6:7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.
American King James Version×
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