All These Things - Part 4

Scripture: Genesis 6:11, Revelation 11:18
Pollution in our society is rampant. Air and water pollution is making our planet more difficult to live in. Our world is deteriorating. Could this be a sign of Christ's coming?
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Astronauts on the way to the moon found no difficulty whatsoever in locating Los Angeles from hundreds of miles out in space. They did it by observing the large blanket of smog which hovered over the southern California metropolis. In some Los Angeles school playgrounds, one can read a sign such as this: "Warning! Do not exercise strenuously or breathe too deeply during heavy smog conditions."

School children in Tokyo sometimes have to wear masks on heavily smoggy days. Traffic police in certain areas of the Japanese capital must take periodic "oxygen breaks" to keep from being overwhelmed by noxious exhaust fumes.

There is no longer any such thing as "pure, country, fresh air", if it is clinically analyzed according to amounts of pollutants, anywhere in the United States, not even over the "wide open spaces" of America's West.

Pollution belched into the atmosphere from our industrialized megalopolises is dispersed far and wide in all directions. Hundreds of millions of tons of air pollutants are spewed into the atmosphere around the world. The United States contributes over 142 million tons of the total. And the worst air pollution is what you can't see. Between 85 and 90 percent of air pollution consists largely of invisible, yet potentially deadly gases. In the United States, motor vehicles are responsible for over 60 percent of the air pollution. Roughly, 30 percent is due to industry, between manufacturing and electric power generation. And while automobiles pour poison into the air; forests, fields and farms that could be putting precious oxygen back into the air, are being eaten up by highways and parking lots at a rate of 3,000 a day.

And then, there is water pollution. It is a dismal fact that most industrially advanced nations have seriously contaminated and despoiled almost every one of their major water sources. Potent industrial acids and chemicals, and ruinous mineral wastes turn once beautiful rivers into open sewers. Agricultural pesticides poison and kill millions of fish and other forms of aquatic life. In many cases the load of filth and poisons have long ago overwhelmed the natural ability of rivers to purify themselves. Some water ways, officially designated by the United States Interior Department as "industrial rivers", are dead, serving no more purpose than that of open industrial sewers. The Cuyahoga River which oozes its way through Cleveland to Lake Erie is so oil slicked and garbage polluted that it has even caught fire. It has earned the dubious title of "the only body of water ever classified as a fire hazard."

Major United States lakes are on their way out. Lake Erie is considered at least half dead because of pollution. Lake Michigan is going through a similar aging process. Even Lake Superior is threatened. Disastrous oil spills are now a major threat to aquatic wild life, and there are other intrusions into the life-support systems of the oceans. Hot water from industry, waste salt from desalinization plants, and over-exploitation of fish resources are a few examples. Then there is the worst killer of all, DDT.

Experts point out that the DDT menace is world wide, so much so that even Antarctic penguins are candidates for extinction as a species because of DDT. In fact, some experts believe that all species of sea birds may be doomed by DDT levels in aquatic life, their main source of food. Even though most DDT usage is banned now, scientists are predicting, in fact expecting, that it is already too late to avoid wholesale extinction of many life forms in the ocean waters.

On still another front, a garbage explosion is threatening many of the major cities of the world with a gigantic garbage disposal problem! "Every year," said a United States Public Health Service spokesman, "we generate 1.5 billion tons of animal wastes, 1.1 billion tons of mineral wastes, 550 million tons of agricultural waste and crop residues, 250 million tons of household, commercial and municipal wastes, and 110 million tons of industrial waste, a total of 3.5 billion tons of discards per year, and growing.

These awesome statistics average out to about 100 pounds of solid waste per person per day! The Public Health Service also estimates that in a typical year, Americans throw away more than 30 million tons of paper, 4 million tons of plastics, 48 billion cans (more than 240 per person) and 26 billion bottles and jars (more than 130 per person). At any given time there are 30 million junked automobiles, trucks, and buses filling United States junk yards and littering the American landscape. Add to this awesome statistic the carcasses of 100 million discarded tires. Ask most people where their garbage goes and you'll get a look of puzzlement. Most are unaware of, or unconcerned with, the gigantic problem of waste disposal, except when their garbage isn't collected.

Yet municipal garbage disposal often ranks third in community expenditures right behind education and roads. The budget for New York City's Department of Sanitation is around 150 million dollars a year. Despite the amount of waste removed from New York, solid waste from the city is the largest single source of sediment entering the Atlantic Ocean from North America.

Imagine what a horrible position a city would be in if garbage collection were halted for any prolonged length of time. Reflect on New York City's dilemma during a nine-day sanitation worker's strike. Nearly 100 thousand tons of foul-smelling uncollected garbage lay in big heaps on side-walks and in doorways. Trash fires flared all over town. Rats rummaged through the piles of refuse. Public health officials proclaimed the city's first health emergency since a 1931 polio epidemic, warning of the danger of typhoid and other diseases.

Perhaps you are asking, "What does the subject of pollution have to do with the series of messages we have been conducting on Signs of the Second Coming of Christ?" Actually, it relates directly to our subject. Let me give you three examples.

First, you will remember that Jesus said that there would be striking parallels between the time of Noah and the time of the end. Now let us read Genesis 6:11, "The earth also was corrupt before God." In other words, the selfishness and wickedness of the people before the flood resulted in corrupting or polluting the earth. That is the chief cause of pollution, man's evil, selfish greed that thinks only of himself, not even of the precious earth God created. In this light, then, pollution is a sign of the end.

Second, Jesus is coming back to this earth to restore His creation and put an end to pollution. Revelation 11:18 pictures the final Judgment and says that God will "destroy them which corrupt the earth." So God plans to deal with pollution, and His weapon against it is the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Third, people used to sneer at and ridicule the idea of the world coming to an end. No one laughs anymore; people are beginning to get worried lest our world not survive. But Jesus made it clear that there would be people alive to see Him return. Therefore, with scientists giving the world just a few more years to live, we have proof to confirm our faith, His promise that "I will come again." And we have proof that it will be soon, it will have to be soon!

Air pollution is so bad in spots that we have been told to expect a wave of mass deaths within five years. Costing U.S. citizens alone more than $14 billion annually, air pollution disintegrates nylon hose and windshield wiper blades; corrodes steel and paint; darkens skies (in Chicago, for example, only 60 percent of the sunlight gets through at times); and causes countless lost workdays because of illness.

Water pollution probably costs more than air pollution. The death of fish and animals in mammoth proportions, even whole life systems because of polluted water is well known. But what is increasingly apparent is that there is not an unending supply of fresh water, man is removing fresh water from the continents faster than the hydrologic cycle can replace it.

The pessimists are well aware of how gloomy their doom-mongering predictions sound. Their only regret is that anyone would think that they are exaggerating. "We are in deep trouble, and time is running against us," laments the National Wildlife Federation.

The grim warning in The Limits to Growth, a report sponsored by eminently respectable members of the Club of Rome, utilizing the most advanced computer facilities to pool the judgments and statistics of world experts in technology, economics, and ecosystems, is that the collapse of civilization is inevitable and foreseeable because of the depletion of nonrenewable natural resources.

But there are optimists who look at the same kind of world and come up smiling. They point to an astounding record of scientific and technological discoveries and break-throughs that have eliminated many of the scourges of the past. Smallpox, diphtheria, polio, cholera, for example, are now either wiped out as a human problem or are under control; the triumph of the laboratory over cancer and other dreaded diseases is a reasonable expectation. New sources for food through aquaculture (the raising of mankind's food in the water areas of earth) and tremendous increase in land production because of improvements in basic seed strains is not fantasy. Baby banks where prospective parents may order tiny frozen embryos guaranteed free from genetic defects, and cataloged by color of hair and eyes, sex, IQ, et cetera, as accessible as the corner drugstore.

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