Blog note: And great earthquakes shall be in diverse places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. (Luke 21:11). Jesus is giving a series of prophecies about what to look for as the age of grace comes to a close. This verse from Luke is one of many such prophecies from throughout the Bible. 2017 was the worst year in recorded history for the intensity, frequency, severity, duration and occurrence of a large number of severe natural disasters worldwide. Earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, torrential flooding, unprecedented wildfires in unusual places, devastating droughts, excessive/scorching heat setting records everywhere, record snowfalls in Europe and Russia. Snow in the Arabia. This list can go on. Most studied eschatologists believe these ‘fearful sights’ and massive natural disasters are all part of the ‘CONVERGENCE’ of signs that this Biblical and prophetic age is closing. Most people who study prophecy are familiar with the routine reference(s) made that these things will be like a woman having labor pains that occur in greater severity, frequency and occurrence prior to giving birth. End of note.
AUGUST 5, 2018 / 10:46 PM . Reuters Staff
Farming impact of Australia’s worst drought in living memory
(Reuters) – The worst drought in living memory is sweeping parts of eastern Australia, leaving farmers struggling to cope and asking questions about their future. Record-low rainfall in some regions and successive seasons of above-average temperatures have blighted vast tracts of Australia’s grazing and crop land.
While the weather has improved in parts of Western Australia, winter rain has gone missing across much of the country’s east, leaving farmers praying for rain after planting seed in dry soil or culling cattle and sheep they can no longer afford to feed. New South Wales, which just recorded its fifth-driest July on record, has been hardest hit. About 99 percent of the state – which accounts for a quarter of Australia’s agricultural output by value – is now officially in drought.
A DUST BOWL
With grazing pastures turned to dust and feed costly and scarce, the drought is having a major impact on livestock. Farmers have been shipping in hay from growers in the country’s west or the far north to feed their livestock. Even those sources are now being depleted, however, and as grain silos in the south are emptied, desperate owners are being forced to slaughter animals, even if it means it will take years for herds to recover. The cull will ultimately leave the size of Australia’s national herd at a record low, ushering in a prolonged period of livestock rebuilding and higher prices for the industry.
UNDER THE SURFACE
Seeds rely not only on rainfall but also moisture already in the soil, which carries nutrients for plant growth and regulates soil temperature. The drought has devastated large swathes of eastern Australia’s crop land, which supplies about a third of the nation’s wheat.
Australia’s last winter was the warmest since records began more than a century ago and one of the 10 driest, sapping moisture from the earth. Dry conditions since have only made things worse, leaving farmers to plant dry and hope for rain to salvage their crops. Last year, drought cut Australia’s output to the lowest level in a decade. This season has got off to an even worse start, with farmers planting in some of the driest soil in years.
Australia’s official forecaster has trimmed its estimate of this year’s wheat crop to 21.9 million tonnes, but warned yields would fall further without rain. Some private forecasters say the crop could be as low as 13 million tonnes, which would be the lowest since the drought-stricken 2008 harvest.
The ground in drought-hit regions has dried out to such a depth that it is even killing large trees. Scientists have reported more swathes of forest are dying off, while farmers point to trees that have survived 100 years on their properties but which are now dying before their eyes.
Deep-rooted vegetation can access moisture down to levels of about 6 meters (yards). However, these areas have been too dry for too long, and the effects are becoming visible. The current dry period is not as extensive as the Millennium drought of 1997-2005, which devastated nearly 50 percent of the country’s agricultural land and was associated with two El Nino systems, which bring hot, dry weather to Australia.
But analysts and industry experts worry about how badly conditions have already deteriorated, especially since El Nino weather may be just around the corner. “Drought is a little bit like cancer,” says Margo Wollaston, who lives with her cattle farmer husband, Tom, 70, outside Tamworth in northwest New South Wales. “It sort of eats away at you, and it just gets drier and drier and more severe and more severe.”
Content by Simon Scarr, Jin Wu, Weiyi Cai and Chris Inton of REUTERS GRAPHICS; Additional content by David Gray, Michael Perry, Richard Pullin, Colin Packham and Gerry Doyle; Compiled by Neil Fullick and Gavin Maguire.