World News and Trends: Don't overlook the weather

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Don't overlook the weather

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Snow and ice gripped Europe while storms battered the western United States and parts of Asia. Nations can quickly recover from weather-related calamities. But sometimes the worst weather can have lasting effects. Consider the winter of 1947 in Europe. Recently Barry Turner recalled that big chill in a Sunday Times feature article:

"Fifty years ago, Europe suffered its worst winter on record. The snow falls buried Britain's brief dream of socialism and led to [West] Germany's resurgence as a dominant force in Europe . . . [It was] the cold snap that shaped the post-war world."

Snow fell in some parts of Britain from January 27 to March 17, continuing in the Pennines mountain range until June. Widespread flooding followed the bitter cold, devastating thousands of acres of cropland and forcing a financially strapped Britain (her strength sapped by the war) to pay for expensive foodstuffs from overseas.

Before World War II Great Britain's assets totaled some £3 billion; at war's end the nation owed that much. Weather conditions greatly exacerbated her financial condition. According to a Sunday Times article, the winter of 1947 was the worst since record-keeping began. Writers described the onslaught as bringing "the longest period without the sun," "the lowest average temperature," "the fiercest snowstorms" and "the deepest drifts."

The Continent was hit hard as well. Wrote Mr. Turner: "On the continent the icy cold had an instant political impact, triggering Marshall aid from America and consolidating Western Europe as a bulwark against communism, anchored to a resurgent Germany" (emphasis ours). West Germany received well over $400 million in Marshall aid, helping to enable a relatively quick recovery. The hard-working German nation abolished rationing six years before Britain did.

"If the winter of 1947 has to take much of the blame for turning American favour towards Germany as the driving force for a new Europe, it also stalled the British economic recovery."

We should never overlook the weather's potential role in the fulfillment of prophecy. (Sources: The Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph.)