Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
Authored By :
Published On :
August 18, 1999
Last Updated :
March 20, 2011
Worldwide Plague Of Killer Famines, Worldwide Droughts
Six million children die from hunger every single year!
Thus far in this series, we have discussed three of the four signs which constitute the 'Beginning of Sorrows' mentioned by the Lord in part of His Endtime sermon found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. As you may recall, these four signs are wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes. Here again are those verses in order to refresh your memory:
"For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows."
Matthew 24:7-8, KJV
In confirmation of Jesus' words, let us now take a look at the fourth sign mentioned by the Lord; that is, famines; also referred to as "dearths" in the Bible. During the years 1845-1848, it is claimed that more than one million people died in Ireland due to starvation and disease which resulted from the Potato Famine. During Mao Zedong's "Great Leap Forward", it is also said that some twenty million Chinese citizens perished due to famine, as a result of Mao's misguided priorities. Following is a news clip from CNN's special report on the Cold War:
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In 1958, Mao had thought up a new policy -- the Great Leap Forward -- a grandiose plan to transform China into a rich world power. Mao's method was a more extreme version of Stalin's brutal collectivization of the 1930s. People were told to produce steel in backyard furnaces. Crops were left to rot. Scientific knowledge and common sense were ignored. No one dared to tell the truth for fear of arrest -- or worse. Peasants' food was taken from them to make up bogus quotas. The result was one of the worst man-made disasters in history. More than 30 million people starved to death.
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In our modern day, despite man's scientific achievements and advanced technology, such as his ability to "play God" by seeding the clouds of heaven in order to produce rain; and his extensive use of modern irrigation systems and farming techniques, which includes the use of a wide variety of fertilizers and dangerous pesticides, and now even genetic engineering, there are still many countries found throughout the world, where literally millions of people suffer from malnutrition, and die of starvation each year. Consider the following data which I obtained from the "Bread For the World" website:
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More than 800 million people-about one-fifth of the population of the world's developing nations-are malnourished, and 200 million of them are children. (United Nations Development Program)
In developing countries, one child in 10 dies before his fifth birthday. The majority of these deaths are hunger-related, totaling 6 million deaths every year. (UNICEF)
The cost of providing basic health care and nutrition for all people in developing countries could be achieved by spending an additional $13 billion annually, which is $4 billion less than what Americans and Europeans spend on pet food. (United Nations Development Program)
Eighty-seven developing countries do not produce enough food for their people and cannot afford to import the rest. (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
Poor households in developing countries typically spend half their income on food. (United Nations Development Program)
The richest fifth of the world's people consumes 86 percent of all goods and services while the poorest fifth consumes just 1.3 percent. (United Nations Human Development Report)
Some 1.3 billion people don't have access to safe drinking water. (United Nations Development Program)
The three richest people in the world have assets that exceed the combined gross domestic product of the 48 least developed countries. (United Nations Human Development Report)
The world's 225 richest individuals, of whom 60 are Americans with total assets of $311 billion, have a combined wealth of over $1 trillion-equal to the annual income of the poorest 47 percent of the entire world's population. (United Nations Human Development Report)
Some 1.3 billion people-one third of the population of the developing world-live on less than a dollar a day. (United Nations Development Program)
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As the previous data reveals, the famines and the poverty continue at unprecedented levels. Consider the following news reports which I have collected from various news sources on the World Wide Web:
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Agence France-Press -- About 790 million people in the world suffer from chronic malnutrition, said a report issued Thursday in London by the U.N. World Food Program. Those numbers were attributed to war and natural disasters. The report said that the number of malnourished people had declined by roughly 8 million a year during the period between 1990-1992 and 1995-1997. It based its findings on a minimum requirement for caloric intake, which varied according to the country under study. But it also said that the decline in the number of malnourished of roughly 40 million people over the past five years was 'by far not enough to ensure that the (1996) World Food Summit target is met.' At that summit, 186 countries committed themselves to halving the number of malnourished people in the world by 2015, noted Hartwig de Haen, who directed the study by United Nations statisticians. In order to reach that target, food was needed for 20 million more people each year, or 2.5 times the actual increase, the report said. The WFP noted that while malnutrition had declined by about 100 million people in 37 countries, it increased by 60 million in others, which it called a 'worrying divergence.'
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Report: 3.5 Million North Koreans Believed Dead From Famine
"Four years of famine in North Korea have eased after killing up to 3.5 million people, but the situation could worsen if outside aid is cut off, a South Korean relief group said Monday. Good Friends, a private Buddhist aid group, made the death estimate on the basis of interviews with 2,700 North Korean refugees living in China. 'Mass deaths in North Korea have stopped, but malnutrition remains at the danger level,' Rev. Pumnyum, head of the group, said at a news conference . . ."
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Facing Mass Starvation, North Korea Pleads For Help
CNN -- North Korea abandoned its political isolation in 1997 and asked the nations of the world to help combat its severe food shortage.
The communist nation said it would be willing to press ahead with peace talks in exchange for help fighting widespread starvation and malnourishment.
North Korea blamed the food shortages on a severe drought and massive floods.
But some observers -- pointing to a broad economic slowdown and a shortage of electricity from the country's primary power source, hydroelectric dams -- said government mismanagement was at fault.
Video from one United Nations fact-finding mission showed 11-year-old children who looked like they were 6, and 6-year-olds who looked 3. One woman said her family had not had meat since August 1995.
In August, aid officials estimated the nation's 24 million people were living off an average of 150 grams of food per day -- about 12 spoonfuls. Some people turned to roots, weeds and tree bark to try to survive.
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Sudan Faces Another Season Of Crisis, Starvation
NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Having faced famine, floods and fighting this year, millions in southern Sudan could experience more misfortune in 1999, unless government and rebel forces continue a temporary cease-fire, U.N. officials said Tuesday.
A six-month partial cease-fire and humanitarian aid in 1998 helped alleviate the suffering of 4 million Sudanese in the rebel-controlled south, recovering first from blistering drought then record floods.
Since 1983 the civil conflict for control of southern Sudan has claimed an estimated 1.5 million to 1.9 million lives, many from war-related famine. Millions more have fled their homes and farms. Untended crops have been looted or destroyed, leaving people without food.
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1 Million People Face Famine In Sudan, Ethiopia
BAHR EL GHAZAL PROVINCE, Sudan (CNN) -- Drought and war have combined to create a famine disaster in eastern Africa that is affecting more than a million people in parts of Sudan and neighboring Ethiopia.
In southern Sudan, relief workers estimate that more than 250,000 people may be starving. Though a drought has aggravated the problems, the primary reason for the famine is an ongoing civil war between the Muslim Arab government in the north and a rebel group seeking autonomy for the Christian and black African south.
"This is purely a man-made disaster," said Dan Effie of Norwegian People's Aid, a relief group working in Sudan.
In Ethiopia, the weather is responsible for a famine that U.N. World Food Program officials say is affecting perhaps 800,000 people in the eastern and central parts of the country.
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Famine Pushes Somalis To Brink Of Disaster
MOGADISHU, Somalia (CNN) -- Flood and drought and ruined crops have sent thousands of Somalis on a desperate trek, searching for food, relief workers report.
Somali faction leader Ali Mahdi Mohamed said on Saturday the situation in southern Somalia was "disastrous."
"Thousands of Somalis are on the brink of starvation after a series of floods and drought ruined crops in the southern (crop growing) Juba region," Ali Mahdi said in a statement.
"People will die if there is no relief aid," said World Food Program monitor Muhiedin Moallim.
Somalia has been without a government since 1991 when forces loyal to Mohamed Farah Aideed and Ali Mahdi combined to oust dictator Mohamed Siad Barre -- and then turned on each other in clan-based bloodletting.
Famine killed as many as 300,000 people after the 1991 crisis. Somalia has suffered a series of failed harvests since and many of its people have lived on U.N. handouts.
In this western Somalia town, events confirmed fighting and natural disasters had robbed people of food. Militia loyal to Hussein Aideed have just been ousted by the local Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA) in factional fighting. The cost: dozens of lives lost and hundreds of people on the run.
In the village of Tiyeglow, 90 km (56 miles) from Hoddur, chaos greeted the first WFP food consignment in three months. Menacing local militia, automatic rifles at the ready, kept hundreds of the hungry jostling for a "better" place on the queue in line.
More than 40,000 people in Tiyeglow are at risk of starvation, said Moallim.
He said: "This is an emergency. The area of Bay and Bakool experienced crop failure for the last three years so the situation looks bad."
WFP says the Somalis were moving en masse to coastal areas and to the southern border with Kenya. It estimates that 700,000 Somalis are facing imminent food shortages, with some 300,000 in central Somalia most at risk.
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Famine Warning: Tanzania And Somalia
CNN -- Lack of seasonal rain in East Africa severely threatens staple food crops in several countries, triggering an alarm of impending famine in the region.
The U.S. Agency for International Development described the region's weather as the worst in 20 years, with the La Niña ocean cooling in the Pacific causing rainfall to be as low as 50 percent below normal in some countries. The failure of the short rains (October-December) in many parts of Tanzania, and a likely delay of the long rains (April-June), have put up to 300,000 people in the country at great risk of starvation. During the past month in Somalia, at least six people died on average each day of malnutrition.
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Kenya Warns Of Famine After Long Drought
NAIROBI, Kenya (Reuters) -- Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans are severely short of food because of a long drought and at least five have starved to death, government officials said Friday.
The government has declared a state of "alarm" in 18 districts after two consecutive rainy seasons failed.
Local officials say 40 percent of the population face starvation if rains due in the next month also fail.
In its recent history Kenya has never suffered famine on the scale experienced by its conflict-torn neighbors Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia.
But hundreds died and thousands of head of livestock were lost in a severe drought in 1992/93, the worst for 50 years.
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Famine Sweeps Parched Northeastern Brazil
AFOGADOS DA INGAZEIRA, Brazil (AP) -- The corn withered long ago when Sebastiao da Silva's parched fields at last produced some food: a rodent.
Da Silva held up the fur-covered prea, an animal the size of a small rabbit, and a grin cracked his face, baked to leather by years of sun.
"At least tonight, my family will have something to eat," he said.
Here in the country's vast northeastern outback -- which has been without rain for six months -- there isn't much else to consume. An estimated 10 million people are at risk of going hungry -- and some have turned to looting government warehouses.
Droughts occur here every few years, but this year's has been exacerbated by El Niño, a phenomenon that affects weather patterns, creating dryness in some areas and heavier-than-normal rain in others.
Cattle carcasses dot the dusty scrubland near Afogados Da Ingazeira, a town 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers) northeast of Rio de Janeiro. Officials say 60 percent of Pernambuco state, where the town is located, is without water.
Desperate families try to stave off starvation by eating cacti -- and by looting. Last month, 700 men, women and children raided a government warehouse, carrying off almost 13 tons (12 metric tons) of rice, beans, flour, manioc meal, corn and pasta.
Severino Leite hangs on, relying on credit from a local store to feed his wife and six children. He already owes $440 and dreads the day when his credit is cut.
"We each have one plate of beans a day and a glass of water at night," he said. "Then me and my family will be in God's hands. I don't like the idea, but who knows if I'll be forced to loot?"
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Without a doubt, we have all seen haunting pictures on the evening news, or perhaps in newspapers and magazines, where young children from some of the aforementioned countries are shown with sad, sunken eyes, and their skin tightly clinging to their protruding bones. It is indeed a heart-wrenching sight to behold. How can such things still occur in our modern times one may ask? As we have seen by the previous reports, on the surface, famine appears to be the result of prolonged droughts which result in crop failures, as well as the evil fruit of man's inhumanity to his fellow man through his greedy wars, which have a dire effect on the economy, agriculture and society of the nations involved.
As you read the following news reports, particularly those regarding droughts in the United States of America, please take note of the fact that the general unspoken attitude from the American President on down, seems to be "These are all just natural disasters. It has nothing to do with God. We just don't understand why all of these things, [droughts, heat waves, floods], are happening to us at one time. It's very unusual." How much it reminds me of similar remarks made by the American President when he was dismayed by the teenage shootings in the American Public School System. Some people are so spiritually blind, that they just don't have a clue as to what is going on; or else they are simply too proud, or too politically-correct to want to speak the truth. What is rather ironic about this attitude, is that droughts, floods and hurricanes are referred to as "Acts of God" when one is dealing with insurance policies, etc. In other words, they say in their documents that these things are Acts of God, but some of them don't really believe it in their hearts. If they did, they would repent of their sins and get right with God:
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Arabic News -- The representative of the international Food and Agriculture Organization in Iraq, Amir Khalil, has said that the country, which suffers from its worst drought in this century, will face a catastrophe unless the situation is improved next year. In press statements he made in Baghdad, Khalil added, 'If there will be a new wave of drought next year, there will be a real catastrophe and then emergency action should be taken.' Khalil added that the absence of resources and necessary equipment in Iraq obstructs alleviation of the drought crisis, saying that sums allotted to help in this regard in the context of the UN food-for-oil program are hardly enough just to halt the deterioration of the situation but give no fundamental treatment. Khalil added that Iraq had allotted a sum of US $500 - 600 million annually to be spent on irrigation projects and other projects in the areas of agriculture before the imposition of the current sanctions, noting that this sum has been greatly decreased.
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Pacific Drought Blamed on El Niño
Disaster Alert -- Drought conditions attributed to El Niño are blamed for 47 deaths in Papua New Guinea and increasing crop damage and livestock losses in New Zealand, Indonesia and Australia. The prime minister of Papua New Guinea says 700,000 residents of the island nation have been affected by weather conditions.
"We have to sit down and really have a critical look at it," he said on Wednesday in an interview with the Post-Courier. It's the worst drought the country has faced in 50 years. The drought and frosts have dried up vegetable gardens and farming operations and depleted rivers that are the lifeblood for gold and copper mines, the largest source of the country's revenue.
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El Nino Drought Plagues Papua New Guinea
Disaster Alert -- The following information is from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Geneva, Switzerland.
El Nino is robbing Papua New Guinea of rain vital for the growing season, causing extreme heat and drought, and generating crop-killing frosts in the local mountains. As a result, many people heavily dependent on their island's agriculture for food and cash crops have watched vegetable gardens dry and wither.
Foods such as the traditional sweet potato, or kaukau, have been fewer and smaller because of unusual waves of highland frost. Root vegetables have shriveled and the normally resilient shoots have died off.
Rivers and streams in many parts of the island are drying up or have evaporated completely, causing water shortages and serious health problems. Thousands of people in the region are being forced to use limited water sources for all their needs, including washing, cooking, drinking and sanitation.
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Belgium In Severe Drought; No Relief In Sight
BRUSSELS, Belgium (CNN) -- Belgium is suffering one of the longest droughts on record, and there is no quick relief in sight, according to the Royal Meteorological Institute. "Since July 1995 we have an accumulated rainfall deficit of 255 liters per square meter (10 inches)," statistician Marc Vandiepenbeek said.
"Over the period we have had 1,123 liters per square meter (44.2 inches) against the 1,378 liters (54.2 inches) we would normally have expected," he added.
Last August Belgium suffered major flooding as cloudburst followed cloudburst to make the month the wettest since 1833.
"But much of that simply evaporated, more was absorbed by plants and the rest went into the rivers," Vandiepenbeek said. "The ground itself got little benefit."
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Drought Halts Some Traffic On The River Thames
LONDON (CNN) -- Low water is hindering some boat traffic on the historic River Thames, as Britain suffers its worst drought in more than two centuries.
At low tide, the river is so shallow in places that people can wade across it, and flows are only about one-third of what is needed for boat traffic. Tourism cruises from Westminster to Henry VIII's palace at Hampton Court are being canceled because the boats can't navigate.
January in London was the driest since 1779. While rainfall was above normal in February, March's total was only about a third as much as usual. Since last June, London -- famous for gray skies and rain -- has been drier than Istanbul or Madrid.
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CNN -- AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND: Drought And Bush Fires.
Australia already has seen an erratic cycle of rain and drought in 1997. Farmers, forewarned that El Niño could cause a drought, sold off cattle and altered planting plans to minimize their losses. Some three fourths of New South Wales already is facing a drought. Officials predict a $700 million to $1.4 billion shortfall in grain. In New Zealand, crop and livestock losses have exceeded $130 million.
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Wheat Belt Drought Taking Heavy Toll
WELLINGTON, Kansas (CNN) -- Wheat prices are setting records at the Chicago Board of Trade as a drought in the Wheat Belt shrivels the crop. Some are calling the conditions -- in some of the most fertile wheat-producing land in the world -- the worst since the dust bowl days of the 1930s.
Farmers say they've never seen it so bad, bankers call the drought a disaster, and the people in Wellington, Kansas, the "Wheat Capital of the World," have watched the wheat crop shrink into nothing.
The federal government says half the crop across the United States is being lost to drought. Dry topsoil is being blown into ditches, and bugs ravage what crop is left. Many farmers have already plowed their plantings under. And the worst may be ahead.
The crop in much of the county already is a total loss. The plants needed moisture down at the roots weeks ago, but now the dirt at that level is dry. And now it's too late.
At a town meeting, Isaacs joined others to discuss what could be the worst U.S. wheat crop in history.
"There's going to be a larger impact than just our local economy," said Wellington's mayor, Stan Gilliland. "It's going to effect the whole world."
The drought has already affected the world. In the span of a decade, U.S. wheat stockpiles have gone from an all-time high to what is likely to be their lowest level since the 1940s, making it only a matter of time before prices start to rise on Main Street.
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El Niño Brings Drought To Colombia
BOGOTA, Colombia (CNN) -- El Niño has wreaked havoc around the globe, bringing rains, floods and other types of severe weather. But in Colombia, it has brought the worst drought in years, causing crop losses worth millions of dollars.
There are no official estimates of damage, but there have been more than 11,000 fires, and some 10,000 cattle have died just in the southern region of El Guila since the drought began.
Eduardo Cortez, a farmer all his life, doesn't remember a summer worse than this.
"Everybody from all parts of the country are complaining that summer is too strong, and in the hot areas, the coffee plants are drying up, the rice fields are drying up, they don't have water to water, all the crops are drying up," he said.
In Silvania, 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Bogota, corn fields are drying up. While the lack of water is affecting the crops, the unusually hot temperatures are also bringing plagues of bugs.
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U.S. Drought Worsens
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The drought in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states is at a crisis point in some areas. Water restrictions have been imposed, fish are dying and crops are baking in the fields. Even Halloween is threatened.
From Virginia to New England and westward to the Ohio Valley, drought conditions that, in some areas, began years ago have led to restrictions on water use, increased the danger of fire and turned farmland into agriculture disaster areas.
Maryland received a foot less rain than normal from July 1998 through June 1999, the driest one-year period for the state since 1965-66.
Some 400 miles to the west, farmers in Ohio are feeling the same pain. "The beans aren't even knee-high yet, and they should be waist-high," lamented Ron Rockhold.
Fish are dying as water levels in lakes and streams dip dangerously low
In Pennsylvania and Virginia, millions of fish are dying in arid riverbeds and from excessive heat, which depletes oxygen levels in water. In a tributary of Virginia's Pocomoke River alone, about 1 million fish were found dead last week.
The drought also has taken its toll on large cities such as New York, where rainfall totals are 18 percent below normal. In Central Park, like much of the region, the bushes have wilted and the grass has turned to straw.
Drought alerts and warnings have been in place in New York state for the past two weeks, along with Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia.
Michael Wyllie, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Brookhaven, New York, said the drought on Long Island is one step below "extreme."
In addition to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, there are also drought conditions in other portions of the United States:
* The water levels of all five Great Lakes are below normal and Lakes Michigan and Huron are 17 inches below last year's high.
* Rainfall for the past 30 days has been 50 percent below normal from northern Nevada eastward into Idaho and northern Utah westward into northern California.
* Alaska, which has had several months of below normal rainfall, is on increased alert for fires.
* Hawaii has been suffering subnormal rainfalls since the beginning of the year.
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As we continue this discussion in the next part of our series, I will be sharing additional news reports concerning droughts in various parts in the world. In addition, we will also discuss famines and droughts in the Bible, the true cause of war and other calamities, doubting God's Righteous Judgments, deliverance of the righteous, our dependence upon the Word, exposed by the Word, God turns away, and spiritual famines then and now. I trust that you will join me.
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