According to a new report issued Sept. 17 by UN-ISDR – the United Nations disaster reduction agency – there has been a global spike in worldwide natural catastrophes, as well as those of the manmade variety.

More than 254 million people were affected by “natural disasters” last year. This is a near three-fold jump from 1990, according to data released by the interagency secretariat.

According to statistics from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at the University of Louvain in Belgium, “The long-term trend over the past decade shows a steady rise in victims.” The UN-ISDR said in a statement:

Not only is the world globally facing more potential disasters, but increasing numbers of people are becoming vulnerable to hazards.

Disasters ranging from storms, earthquakes and volcanoes to wildfires, droughts and landslides killed some 83,000 people in 2003, compared with about 53,000 deaths 13 years earlier, it noted.

In addition, storms and freak temperatures appear to be on the rise with 337 natural disasters reported in 2003, up from 261 in 1990, the agency said.

An onslaught of deadly hurricanes that have battered the southern United States support theories that such storms are occurring more frequently.

John Harding, a program officer at the UN-ISDR said, “Look at the number of hurricanes this year – it is hard to keep up with all the names.”

He told a French newspaper, AFP:

The scientific community tells us that the intensity and frequency of disasters are very likely to increase in the medium-term due to climate change and that increase may well be occurring at this stage.

The United Nations will hold a conference on disaster reduction in Kobe, Japan – itself hit by a devastating earthquake in 1995. It meets from Jan. 18 to 22 to explore this issue.

When Jesus was describing the signs that would herald His return, He said:

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.

– Matthew 24:7

By themselves, these aren’t signs – they are merely restatements of the natural order of things, events common to the history of man.

Ethnic wars and wars between “kingdoms,” famines, pestilences and earthquakes all make their first appearances in the book of Genesis.

But Jesus described these things using a very specific metaphor – that of a woman in child-labor. He said in verse 8, “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Jesus predicted that all of these events would develop in concert together in the same time frame and they would all increase in frequency and intensity.

The word rendered “sorrows” is “odin” in the original Greek – which means “the pain of childbirth or birth pangs.” Every parent who has ever lived could instantly grasp the meaning of this metaphor – that is why Jesus chose it. As the birth of a child approaches, the mother begins to experience labor pains, which, having once begun, continue to increase in both frequency and intensity as the moment of birth approaches.

Prospective parents in Jesus’ day did exactly what we do today – they timed the interval between the contractions. It was a carefully chosen metaphor designed to resonate with all people, of all cultures, in all generations.

But, to the generation to whom those signs were addressed, the meaning would be unmistakable. Since 1948, there has been a discernible up tick in the frequency of all these catastrophic events.

It was discernible, but it was also deniable, and so, until recently, it was framed as an issue of proponents of the global-warming theory vs. opponents of the global-warming theory.

Each side could produce its own statistics to disprove the other side, and the battle rages on – “Is global warming responsible for the increasingly violent global weather patterns? Or not?

Last year, astronomers were at a loss to explain why nine major solar eruptions occurred during a two-week period in October during the middle of the nine-year solar “minimum” season. There should be little to no solar activity until 2012 or later. Instead, scientists declared it the most turbulent periods of solar activity since 1940, during a solar maximum event.

Richard Wilson, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University’s Earth Institute, authored a study for Goddard Space Institute. He concluded:

Historical records of solar activity indicate that solar radiation has been increasing since the late 19th century. If a trend, comparable to the one found in this study, persisted throughout the 20th century, it would have provided a significant component of the global warming, which the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change reports to have occurred over the past 100 years.

A report in the July “Science” section of the New York Times predicts the Earth is perhaps 150 years into the collapse of the Earth’s magnetic field. The European Union has even approved the deployment of a trio of new satellites, called Swarm. The mission of Swarm is to monitor the collapsing field to help scientists forecast when the compass needles will start pointing south.

A group of leading space scientists from NASA and universities in the United States, Europe, Russia and Australia recently sent a letter pleading with the Australian government to rejoin the asteroid search seven years after that country had dropped out.

According to them, the odds of a catastrophic asteroid strike on the Earth sometime in the next century are about 1 in 5,000.

Through the centuries, through the Dark Ages, through the Reformation Period, up into the modern era, the asteroids have been out there, zipping through space, making their rounds through the solar system. But the odds are 1 in 5,000 that a Doomsday Rock will hit us in the next 100 years?

The United Nations claims that we are witnessing, on an increasing scale in both frequency and intensity, earthquakes, famines, wars and pestilence. NASA continues to document the unexpected and unsettling changes in the sun’s solar flare cycles.

The European Union is monitoring the collapse of the Earth’s magnetic fields, while scientists from all countries are urgently searching the stars for killer asteroids.

Meanwhile, up and down the Atlantic seaboard, forecasters continue to worry about running out of letters in the alphabet before we run out of hurricanes this year.

Jesus predicted these kind of signs would begin to occur just before His return:

And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken.

– Luke 21:25-26

Everyone has a reason to explain why the sun is out of phase, why we should be scared to death of falling space rocks, or why the global weather patterns are growing increasingly unpredictable and violent.

But the “why” isn’t important. What it all means, however, when taken together with the big picture of last days prophecies is of eternal importance.

If you have been playing Russian roulette with eternity by putting off a decision to receive Jesus Christ as Savior, now is the time to repent. Jesus took your place and bore God’s wrath against all your sins. He purchased a pardon for you with your name on it. But you have to receive it. Don’t put it off. Tomorrow may be too late.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.