Is Time Running Out for Planet Earth?
How would you answer the following multiple-choice question?
In the near future, will conditions on earth
(b) stay the same?
(c) become worse?
DO YOU try to maintain a positive outlook regarding the future? There are many benefits to doing so. Studies have shown that people with an optimistic outlook perform better both academically and physically. One long-term study even found that men who were optimists were far less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease than were those with a pessimistic view of life. These findings are in harmony with a statement made in the Bible centuries ago: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”—Proverbs 17:22, The Holy Bible—New International Version.
However, in light of what scientific experts are forecasting about the future of planet Earth, many find it hard to remain cheerful and optimistic. Consider just some of the dire predictions that are making the news.
A Planet in Peril
In 2002 the respected Stockholm Environment Institute warned that a business-as-usual approach to economic development is likely to trigger “events that could radically transform the planet’s climate and ecosystems.” The report further stated that global poverty, continued inequity, and the degradation of environmental resources could cause society to reel “from one environmental, social and security crisis to the next.”
In 2005 the United Nations released the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Synthesis Report. This was a result of a four-year global study of Earth’s environment, involving more than 1,360 experts from 95 countries. The report contained a stark warning: “Human activity is putting such strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.” Averting calamity would require “significant changes in policies, institutions, and practices that are not currently under way,” states the report.
Anna Tibaijuka, executive director for the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, expresses what is a growing consensus among researchers. She says: “If we continue as usual, a disastrous future beckons.”
A Reason for Optimism
Jehovah’s Witnesses, who publish this magazine, also believe that dramatic, earth-changing events are near. However, they are convinced that rather than leading to a disastrous future, these events will pave the way for the most wonderful conditions the world has ever experienced. Why such optimism? Because they trust the promises made in God’s Word, the Bible. Note one of these promises: “Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; and you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Psalm 37:10, 11.
Is such a hope mere wishful thinking? Before answering that question, contemplate this claim: Thousands of years in advance, the Bible accurately foretold many of the major problems we now see afflicting the earth and mankind. Please read the scriptures cited in the following article, and compare what they say with what you see happening in the world. As you do so, your trust that the Bible accurately foretells future events will grow.