… 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).
… And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; (Luke 21:25)
… Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken; (Luke 21:26)
… This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2 Timothy 3:1)
Jesus is giving a series of prophecies about what to look for as the age of grace comes to a close. These verses are several 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, size and duration prior to giving birth. End of note.
‘Like opening a fan oven’: Australia’s rainforest threatened by bushfires
As the weather gets hotter and drier, and cyclones increase, those living in Australia’s north will need to adapt to the fire danger
Lisa Cox. The Guardian. Sun 9 Dec 2018 08.53 EST. First published on Sun 9 Dec 2018 08.30 EST
When Michelle Ready first moved to the cane farm she owns with her husband in Queensland nine years ago, it sounded like a jungle at night. “It was lush and green and wet,” she says.
A week after a “frightening” fire ripped across their property in Finch Hatton, a small township in the subtropical region of Mackay, better known for its humid, rain-drenched summers, it’s obvious that things have changed.
“It has been unbelievably dry here … the last few years we’re just not getting the rain and then, when we do, it’s often associated with a cyclone.” This year, early summer heat broke all-time records for Queensland. In Cairns, the tropical port city in the state’s far north, 1,600km (1,000 miles) north of Brisbane, the previous highest temperature in November was 37.2C, set in 1900. On Monday 26 November, the mercury hit 42.6C.
Bushfires are common in Australia but they mostly flare in the south-eastern states of New South Wales and Victoria, where summers can be hot and dry. But Queensland, much of which is located in the tropics, joins other parts of the globe, such as California and Greece, where unusually hot and dry conditions have fuelled catastrophic fires which are forcing a rethink of what such regions can expect in the future.
But climate change is not only bringing searing heat. Two cyclones in as many years, including the destructive tropical cyclone Debbie in 2017, have left the region’s tropical rainforest exposed and unable to act as a natural firebreak.
Typically, rainforest should be able to self-protect during fire, with closed canopies that allow little sunlight to the forest floor and that keep the vegetation moist. But the cyclones have shredded the canopies, leaving an excess of fuel from debris on the ground, and a lack of rain meant the forest was dry.
Since 22 November, more than 1m hectares has been burnt across Queensland, much of which lies in the tropics. Since the beginning of its bushfire season in August, more than 3.6m hectares have been destroyed.
The most recent fires occurred on a magnitude never before seen in the state. Over a period of 12 days, the Queensland fire and emergency service said it had attended more than 1,200 fires, with help from crews from every state and territory in Australia.
Andrew Piccone, a nature campaigner with the Australian Conservation Foundation, who did his studies in rainforest ecology, said that Australia would have to consider the future impact of warming conditions on a range of plant, animal and insect species in the wet tropics.
“If catastrophic fire conditions are going to burn the rainforest in Queensland, what that means for the future of the wet tropics world heritage area could be quite concerning,” he said.
On the day the fires took off, Michelle Ready said there was a feeling in the air of “everything crisping up”.
For weeks, small fires had been burning in bushland around the property. She and her husband, Viv Dodt, had prepared by building fire breaks around the home. They were ready when the heatwave hit, taking temperatures to the mid-40sC and bringing with it high winds and low humidity of the kind rarely seen in an area known for its lush forests.
“The only heat that’s come anywhere near it that I’ve experienced was in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt,” Ready said. “The winds – it felt like opening a fan-forced oven. It was frightening.”
The property became surrounded to the south, west and north. Ready watched from the verandah as a fire took off down the mountain, followed by another.
“We’ve never seen anything like it,” she said.
Their early work fire-proofing saved the house. But eucalypt bushland at the back of the farm was lost and macadamias they had been experimenting with in pots before investing in farming them burnt and split from the heat.
The fires took in a region known as the Clarke Connors range and localities including Finch Hatton, Dalrymple Heights and Eungella, a township noted for the national park and subtropical rainforest that surrounds it.
Andy Houley is the rural fire inspector in Mackay and has been fighting fires for decades. He compared the fires to some of Queensland’s worst fire seasons in 1994 and 1972.
“Areas we traditionally rely on to stop fires progressing from one valley to another were not reliable,” he said.
He said 121,000ha around Eungella and Finch Hatton had been lost, including parts of the rainforest as well as dry bushland.
Parks and wildlife service workers will spend coming weeks doing detailed assessments to work out the precise level of damage.
Fortunately, popular tourist areas for local and overseas visitors, including the platypus viewing point in Eungella, appear to have remained relatively untouched.
Houley said rural communities were resilient, but as cyclones increased and weather got hotter and drier, they needed to look more closely at how to adapt to fire danger.
“We can do more planned burning to block areas from fire earlier in the year. We’ve got to focus on that now,” he said. “We can’t change the cyclones but we can certainly adapt.”
Philip Stewart, a fire ecologist with Queensland University’s school of earth and environmental sciences, agrees. He said governments and communities would need to become more proactive in fighting fires and that current processes were too reactive.
“We do need to look at firefighting in a different light,” Stewart said. “We are a fire-prone country and more people are moving into fire-prone areas. We need to have an understanding of the danger of that and look at fighting fire with fire.”
He pointed to traditional burning used by Indigenous communities as a model, where prescribed burning occurs on a larger scale than hazard-reduction burns, which focus on reducing fuel in specific areas.
Stewart said areas of rainforest impacted could take decades or even centuries to recover, adding that the next possible threat to those areas was mudslides as the wet season sets in.
“High-intensity fire tends to create a layer within the soil that is hydrophobic and therefore water repellent causing mass soil erosion,” he said.
“We are seeing this very phenomenon in the USA at Malibu where mass soil movement has taken place due to the heavy rains that followed the high-intensity and severe fires there.”
Categories: Extreme Wildfires Update