Can anyone any longer doubt but that we are seeing “signs of the times” at every turn? We’re in a time of water. Rain. We’re in a time of drought.
We’re in a time of fire. In recent weeks — and years — the focus has been California.
And indeed, fifteen of the twenty largest blazes in the state’s history have been logged since 2000. Those who don’t see such matters as unusual don’t want to see such matters as unusual.
“The trends are pretty astounding in terms of the number of acres burned, the length of the wildfire season, the numbers of structures lost,” Kelly Pohl, a research analyst with a nonprofit research group that helps communities develop wildfire plans, told a newspaper. “If you look at the trends over several decades, they’ve all gone up. The state is ‘a bit like a canary in a coal mine.’ We are also going to see the same trend across other states in the country in the future.”
Note the symbolic potential of further news that though now diminishing the haze and smoke from California had and may still have the potential to stretch across the entire nation, causing detectable optics in New York and Canada. As Hollywood in the south and Silicon Valley in the north have dispensed their effects on culture, so now does smoke almost serve as their metaphor.
Let’s put it in prophetic perspective: the more than 820,000 acres burned in that state thus far this year is not only double last year already but is beginning to approach, in total acres, the greatest wildfire in U.S. history: the Peshtigo conflagration around Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 1871, which consumed 1.2 million acres and came after an appearance of the Blessed Mother (the only officially approved one in the United States) warning of chastisement due to spiritual indifference.
Like Peshtigo, California is now witnessing the phenomenon of fire tornadoes.
Are the fires comparable in devastation to Peshtigo? Right now, no. The human toll has been mercifully low. And the acreage total is from a number of fires, not just one, as in Wisconsin. But at one point last week, there were wildfires in seventeen states and Canada, not to mention other nations such as Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Germany, and particularly Greece.
There was a forest fire in the Arctic Circle.
So hot has been the Persian Gulf that some wonder if it will become uninhabitable. In Ouargla, Algeria, the temperature spiked to 124.34 F on July 5, the highest temperature reliably recorded on the continent of Africa. In 2016, Mitribah, Kuwait, reportedly reached 129.2 F, which could make it the highest temperature on record for the Eastern hemisphere and Asia.
In Australia, the most populous state is almost entirely in a state of drought — as is much of America’s Southwest.
The heat is on — everywhere. From unusually cold winters to historically warm summer days; from desiccation — punishing dryness — to floodwaters, as we see torrents pour through downtowns in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey, and elsewhere.
Our own meddling and despoiling of what God created is behind some of it; see it visually here; or, simply visit places in recent days where, for instance:
— Millions of fish are washing shore in Florida, due to the “red tide,” which in large part is from our wanton use of fertilizers.
— And Pennsylvania’s trash: fouling the Chesapeake.
They will continue, in time-honored style, to intensify, these extremes: For we know from Scripture that the Lord cleanses with water, the violence of winds, and the heat of flames.
[resources: Michael Brown’s Fear of Fire]: