CHRISTIAN NEWS MAGAZINE FOR KERALA MALAYALEE CHRISTIANS FROM INDIA AROUND THE WORLD
MARCH 2008 LOL FEATURE
VOL:07 ISSUE:03

WILL OUR EARTH BE FORTUNATE TO SEE ANOTHER MILLENNIUM?
LOL Feature By Editor Dr. Rajan Mathew
[Ex-Nuclear Scientist/Engineer]

'In the beginning God created the Universe [Heavens]'. By this one verse in the Holy Scripture God revealed the work of creation in its epitome and in its embryo as the origin of the universe. The Universe is defined as everything that physically exists: the entirety of human space and time, all forms of matter, energy and momentum. In other words, man calls it Cosmos, World or Nature and it includes the whole frame and furniture of the universe or biblically, 'world and all things therein' [Acts 17:24]. As per the scientific inferences man's intuitive cosmos extends 93 billion Light-Years across, while God's space and time extend to infinities. [A Light-Year is a unit of measurement of length, specifically the distance that light travels in vacuum in one year. In metric units, the speed of light in vacuum is 1,079,252,848.8 Kms/Hour. The Light-Year is often used to measure distances to stars.] Considering an 'Earth-Year', length of one Light-Year is 9,460,730,472,580 Kms. The humanly conceivable cosmos includes many groups of Galaxies and Milky Way.

A Galaxy is a massive gravitationally bound system consisting of stars, planets, dark matter etc. Typical Galaxies range from medium with ten million stars to giants with one trillion stars all orbiting a common center of mass. The Sun is one of the stars in the Milky Way Galaxy and the Solar System includes the Earth and all the other objects that orbit the Sun. So, once God created the Universe, He created the tiny earth inclusive. However, as the revelation of God about the creation is specifically given to human who lives on this miniaturized planet 'Earth', it is imperative to subsume 'Earth' to the revelation of creation story. So, 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.' [Genesis 1:1] This revelation of creation to man was in answer to that query of man's good conscience, "Where is God my Maker?" [Job 35:10]

Further Holy Scripture gives us the history of transformation of earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep. God regularized the heavenly bodies to form the times and seasons and to give light on the earth during day and night. There was no rain on the earth, but mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. God cursed the earth to become sterile and made Cain fugitive and a vagabond for the sake of his bloodshed. Ages passed and God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth. God decided to destroy the human race along with the earth by a deluge. All the fountains of the great deep were burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights. Rain poured on the earth for the first time. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, he and his family alone got saved.

When the tsunami struck in Indian Ocean during 2004, we read similar words in scientific reports that 'the base plates of the earth are shaken'. Seismographic and acoustic data indicate that it involved a rupture about 400 Km long and 100 Km wide, located 30 Km beneath the seabed by a massive earthquake of magnitude 9. The Indian Ocean earthquake has caused an enormous environmental impact and severe damage has been inflicted on ecosystems. NASA scientists reported that Indonesian earthquake affected Earth's rotation, decreased the length of day, slightly changed the planet's shape, and shifted the North Pole by about 2.5 centimeters. Tsunami also changed the Earth's rotation. They found these changes of earth caused to decrease the length of day by 2.68 microseconds.

The Sun is a medium sized star and it is the center of the Solar System. The Sun's diameter is 1.4 million Kilometers (about 109 times Earth's diameter) and its surface temperature is 6400 K. Sun's galactic rotation period is 220 million years and its Spiral pattern rotation period is 50 million years. The diameter of the earth at the equator is 12,756 Kilometers and it is 150,000,000 Kilometers away from Sun. Earth rotate around the Sun in elliptical orbit at a speed of 107,000 Km/Hr and it spins in its own axis at a speed of 1670 Km/Hr. We also are in motion along with earth in this most dangerous roller coaster whose exact harmony of motions is synchronized only by the skill, exactness and accuracy of its creator. The man who sits on earth with his legs stretched, though he gyrate, spin and twirl as in a whirlpool, his brain is constantly tutored to believe that he is stationary.

The fallen man cannot be partner in the creativity of the creator. He can only impair and degrade what he is given with. As the creator is perfect, His creation is also perfect. After the creation, God saw that it was good. Psalmist says about it: "The heavens are showing the glory of God and their expanse is declaring His handiwork" [Psalms 19:1] The human brain and the most developments in Science can only explore a fraction of the great mystery of eternal power and Godhead. There are phenomena in nature, which cannot be solved, secrets that cannot be fathomed nor accounted for. Job asks about it: "Where is the way that the light is divided, or the east wind scattered on the earth? Who has cleft a channel for the flood, or a way for the thunderbolt?" [Job 38:24-25]

Global Warming:
Modern Science got increasing evidences of human caused [anthropogenic] Global Warming and Climate Change for at least last half a century. Earth surface is surrounded by atmosphere, which is fundamental to life on earth. Besides providing the air we breathe, it regulates sun's temperature, distributes water, controls carbon, nitrogen and oxygen cycles, and protects life from harmful radiation. The whole solar energy received is unbearable for the earth and its inhabitance. About half of the solar energy absorbed on the earth surface evaporates water conserving the most important Greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. When this water condenses in the atmosphere, it releases energy that administers humidity, storm, rain and snow. The surface and the atmosphere reflect about 30 % of the incoming solar energy. Only a small amount of the heat energy emitted from the earth surface passes through the atmosphere directly to space and rest of heat emitted is absorbed by the Greenhouse gas molecules trapped in the atmosphere and contributes to the energy radiated back down to warm the earth surface and lower atmosphere ensuing to keep an average temperature of the earth's surface at 15 degree C.

The Greenhouse Effect is a key mechanism of temperature regulation. If all the heat was returned back to space without absorption in Greenhouse gas, the temperature of the earth's surface would have been -6 Degree C which could make the earth uninhabitable. The principal Greenhouse gases involved in this process include Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous Oxide (N2O) and Chlorofluorocarbons. Increase of the concentration of Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere more than what is required to keep the mean temperature of the surface, cause to re-bounce more heat to earth surface and eventually it result in additional surface warming.

Human activity is disturbing the mechanism of the atmosphere. Since the beginning of the industrial period anthropogenic emissions have led to an increase in concentration of these gases in the atmosphere resulting in Global Warming. Co2 build up from burning fossil fuel contribute to the major Global Warming variations on the earth's surface. The levels of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were stable at 270 ppm [Parts per million] for thousands of years before the industrial revolution and in 2000 it was reported more than 370 ppm and further it is increasing in alarming proportions. Warming reduces the solubility of CO2 and therefore reduces uptake of CO2 by the ocean. Many study reports say that the average temperature of the earth surface has risen by .6 degrees Celsius since 1800. Recent projections suggest that average temperature could increase by another 1.4 to 5.8 degree Celsius by 2100. Global Warming is expected to result changes in weather patterns, transients in global precipitation and added possibilities and frequencies of calamities like severe storms, floods, earthquakes, droughts etc.

Observed Impacts and potential dangers of Global Warming:

  1. One of the most potent human impact and danger of Global Warming is the rise in sea level. Warm water is less dense and more bulky by the thermal expansion. Though the warming effects of water are comparatively slow due to its Thermal Capacity or Latent heat [water takes more energy to heat per unit mass than other substances], it causes a big threat for the low-lying lands on the earth. One of the most sensitive nations on earth to rising sea levels is our neighboring island Maldives famous for its coral growth. The country had already got wiped off some of the land causing its plant life removed and further repeated flooding may cause disaster for their economy, environment and ecosystems. Recently it is reported that the sea level at Cochin coast is rising 1.2 mm per year.

    It is estimated that one meter of sea level rise will occur before the end of this century. Yet another few centuries may witness a sea rise around seven meters which may wash away many coastal cities and wet lands around the world. Many of the ecologically rich regions in the world are low lying delta areas such as Niger delta, much of the Bangladesh and Amazon delta. The number of people affected by flooding in Florida, will be forced to build seawalls and flood control structures for Florida’s coastal cities. Over just next 45 years relative sea levels are set to rise by up to a meter on the Louisiana coast. As per IPCC reports sea level rise by 2100 will be 7-23 inches causing flooding of low-lying regions. In this context it is worth noticing here that rise of coastal waves was about thirty meters high during tsunami and many cities in our Kerala lies on sea level or slightly above.

  2. The melting of the Greenland ice cap is another potent symbol of human impact of Global Warming. The reduction in sea ice is very likely to have devastating consequences for polar bears. When more ground or ocean beneath ice caps is exposed it will cause for further cumulated Global Warming. Now a days it is a noted phenomenon that snow melts earlier in the springtime and the lakes, rivers and bogs freeze much latter in the autumn. Winters are much warmer than they used to be. Glaciers [huge mass of ice formed from snow falling and accumulating over the years and moving very slowly] throughout the temperate and tropical regions especially in Austria are being disappeared. When North America was colonized by Western Europeans, Glacier National Park contained more than 120 glaciers. Presently there are 23 glaciers, and by 2030 there will be none (USGS). Large areas of coniferous evergreen forests are drowning and rotting as permafrost [permanently frozen subsoil] on which they grow is melting and tree roots are loosing support. Cryosphere [icy lands] is feared for a rapid decline during the coming century and tropical and temperate glaciers may virtually disappear causing artic turn reshaped. The decline of the Cryosphere will lead to enlargement of the oceans and cause cumulative sea level rise, which may cause for devastation of costal communities the world over.

  3. Change of Weather Patterns is a direct effect to the human life. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most effected areas of Global Warming. The variation and fall of annual rainfall dries up the seasonally rich grassland used by the indigenous nomadic peoples for feeding the cattle. 25% fall of rainfall in Kenya, Sudan, and Ethiopia make the people from poor to poorer. Other areas that are likely to suffer due to factors related to Global Warming include large areas of India, and parts of China where with decrease of rainfall, desertification of former farmland and many dried river beds.

  4. Most countries experience disproportionate change in the amount of precipitation [Any form of water, such as rain, snow, sleet, or hail, that falls to the earth's surface] falling during heavy or extreme precipitation season. Variations in relative humidity become cause for increased number and severity of storms. The effects of increased warming in Indian Ocean may cause more and more droughts for Southern Africa. IPCC reports for stronger hurricanes in near future.

  5. Health Hazards: The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate Climate is currently causing 150000 lives lost annually and they predict that this number will double by 2020. Across Europe in the summer of 2002 a record-breaking heat wave caused tens of thousand of deaths particularly in France. Many cities in China including Beijing suffer from health hazards from the red dust storm scoured from the parched earth by the winds coming down from the Himalayan Mountains and Tibetan plateau. Exposure to more droughts, floods and starvation may cause for increase of borne diseases such as Malaria, Diarrhea etc.

  6. There are study reports that significant stores of Methane locked up in and trapped below the permafrost regions of the high Arctic. The release of billions of tones of this Methane due to melting of permafrost, which has around 23 times the Global Warming potential of Carbon Dioxide could cause aggravated cumulative warming. Methane is the second most important Greenhouse gas and once emitted, Methane remains in the atmosphere for approximately 9-15 years.

The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Al Gore, former vice-president of the US, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) both for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made Climate Change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change. Gore was rewarded for his documentary 'An Inconvenient Truth' and for organizing Live Earth concerts, which sought to raise awareness about Climate Change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a UN-backed body that has organized a series of reviews about Climate Change. IPCC is currently headed by R K Pachauri as its Chairman. IPCC had published its latest report in 2007.

Normally the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded for the committed Peace efforts, however this time it is given, with a new definition of peace as security, for understanding of the measures that need to be adopted for the human security. This action well reveals the importance and severity of Global Warming and the need for the awareness campaign to the entire inhabited population to make aware each living individual about their part for remedies for creating the conditions for people to live peacefully together.

The only remedy for the man made errors on earth is a total surrender to God and massive repentance in terms of the Ninevites. St. Matthew emphasize about the period of tribulation while the measure of iniquity is full. In times of common calamities God manifests His favour only by the prayers of His Saints. The Evangelist very specifically caution that these days shall be shortened only for the sake of the Saints. A lesson of divine grace in the repentance and reformation is that of Nineveh, upon the warning given to them of their approaching destruction. The King of Nineveh set us a good example of humiliation. He rose from his throne in sorrow and shame for sin, by which he and his people had become obnoxious to the wrath. Both man/woman and beast covered with sackcloth; and prayed to God earnestly and turned away from their wicked ways and from the violence. This is exactly what the world should observe to come out of our catastrophic adversity.

The Holy Scriptures gives us clear picture of the fate of the earth. All three Synoptic Gospels predict of the phenomenon expected during the end of this world, of great earthquakes, famines, pestilences, fearful sights and great signs from heaven. [Matthew 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11] Again three Evangelists agreed to say that 'Heaven and earth shall pass away'. [Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33] St. Peter had revealed it more clearly that present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up... Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?" [2 Peter 3:10-12] God is preparing us for the New Heaven and New Earth. Seven hundred years before Christ, Prophet Isaiah had foretold about it; "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind." [Isaiah 65:17] In the Revelations to Apostle St. John also God reiterated His divine plan: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea." [Revelation 21:1]

We, of this contemporary era, are fortunate to witness a Millennium with our own eyes during our life span. But who knows our dear earth and its inhabitance will be fortunate enough to see another Millennium?

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