In the Wake of Natural Disasters

Media reports stress harmful outcomes of natural weather events and other powerful physical phenomena in our dynamic planetary environment. Many are related to the four fundamental forces by which our universe is governed and shaped. 

“The four fundamental forces act upon us every day, whether we realize it or not. From playing basketball, to launching a rocket into space, to sticking a magnet on your refrigerator – all the forces that all of us experience every day can be whittled down to a critical quartet: Gravity, the weak force, electromagnetism, and the strong force. These forces govern everything that happens in the universe.” (Ben Biggs and Jeremy Rehm…”The Four Fundamental Forces of Nature,”space.com12/23/21)

Modern news commentators report on disastrous forces of tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts, floods, blizzards, thunderstorms, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches, and forest fires. The public desires news concerning unusual and spectacular incidents, as well as destructive and tragic events. Reports about serene and pleasant physical events often do not inspire the same degree of public attention. A physical scientist may be fascinated by information about fundamental forces, but laypeople are more concerned about tragic effects triggered by those forces. However, there is a side effect to many so-called weather and natural disasters—a beneficial side effect.

As this post is being composed Planet Earth is in the throes of a solar storm event. We are being affected by solar flares—magnetic storms on our life-giving sun. They are called coronal mass ejections (CME) of hot magnetic gas. Such storms are not physically harmful to Earth residents because our planet’s atmosphere shields us from harmful effects but our GPS technology and other modes of communication may be adversely affected. The benefit of this solar magnetic storm may be our ability to see aurora borealis—northern lights. We are able to see the beauty of divine creation in a unique manner.

Returning to other commonly observed weather events mentioned earlier, we do not minimize the possibility of tragedy from a natural event. The OT Book of Job records a poignant example of environmental hazards on Planet Earth. Job Ch. 1 describes a great wind, probably a tornado, which took the lives of his ten children. Christians must acknowledge the existence of suffering, not only from environmental hazards, but also for the undeserved suffering of Jesus Christ as He gave His life to redeem humanity.

There are several side effects to consider concerning undesirable physical events.        

Hurricanes redistribute heat and moisture, sometimes providing relief from drought. Some storms move sediment from bays to marshes, revitalizing nutrients. Periodic wet/dry cycles may be more beneficial than changeless, pleasant weather. Blizzards with heavy snow cover may prevent deep freezing of soil and provide insulation from severe cold damage to roots and bulbs. Soil moisture even in winter must be conserved. 

Thunderstorms, however frightening, provide beneficial moisture and provide nitrogen fixation in the atmosphere. Nitrogen is a diatomic element consisting of two atoms chemically bonded. In this state, atmospheric nitrogen is not useful to plants. Lightning in thunderstorms breaks diatomic nitrogen apart so it may join with oxygen to form nitrogen oxides (N2O). Nitrates (NO3) form when nitrogen oxide dissolves in water droplets. This process is known as atmospheric nitrogen fixation. Plants need nitrogen as a nutrient for healthy growth. Veggies, fruits, and meats are proteins rich in nitrogen. We encourage readers to thank God for lightning which ultimately helps fertilize life-sustaining plants. We also caution residents to stay safe during the storm! Eight million lightning bolts strike our planet each day producing 13,000 tons of nitrate fertilizer. 

Volcanoes may result in tragedy, but volcanoes give warnings of future eruptions. Geologically, volcanic material on Earth’s surface provide rich soil nutrients. Eighty percent of Earth’s surface originated in volcanic events. Hawaii’s rich volcanic soil is geologically very recent.

Earthquakes may cause horrific damage but government mandated building codes minimize earthquake damage to a significant degree. A study of earthquakes in terms of their long-term causes and effects, convection currents and mineral recycling, may highlight the truth of divinely created fine-tuning and intelligent design.

We have endeavored to highlight positive effects of several dynamic planetary events most often perceived as tragic. When God created all things (the heavens and the earth) in the beginning (Genesis 1:1), he also created an “operating system” for our habitable planet. Scientists have recognized laws of nature, physical laws which govern how our Earth’s physical system operates. The physical laws obey a suite of physical constants such as  the law of gravitation, the constant speed of light, and the mass of subatomic particles. Many other physical constants have been identified. The subject of physical constants is esoteric—understandable by only a few advanced scientists. 

As we examine Planet Earth’s weather, climate, and geological phenomena, we are struck with awe and wonder at the divine genius of our Creator. He is the Divine Author of our predictable laws of nature. We link this past post for those who wish to study the topic of divine creativity in more depth: 

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