When Jesus Christ was asked by His inner circle of 12 disciples about what signs would indicate that the End Times for the current world are near, Jesus stated in Matthew 24:7 and Mark 13:8 that one of the signs of the End Times will be earthquakes. And, with regard to the same matter, Jesus declared in Luke 21:11 that there will be great earthquakes. So, it is reasonable to conclude that when earthquakes start occurring more frequently and they are strong, the End Times will soon follow.
Will there also be an increased number of other types of natural disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes, and pandemics, that will occur, and will they be especially severe? Since the Bible does not mention that such natural disasters will become more frequent and/or more powerful immediately prior to the End Times, it is not likely that they will be a precursor of the End Times, but nevertheless it may be worthwhile to determine what has been occurring with regard to these natural disasters during recent decades.
In making this determination, we will now consider what science has to say with regard to natural disasters.
A number of sources state that everything in nature is moving from order to disorder in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics. For example, the Internet article entitled “Entropy: The Hidden Force That Complicates Life” makes the following statements:
Entropy, a measure of disorder, explains why life seems to get more, not less, complicated as time goes on.
All things trend toward disorder. More specifically, the second law of thermodynamics states that “as one goes forward in time, the net entropy (degree of disorder) of any isolated or closed system will always increase (or at least stay the same).”
Entropy is simply a measure of disorder and affects all aspects of our daily lives. In fact, you can think of it as nature’s tax.
Left unchecked, disorder increases over time. Energy disperses, and systems dissolve into chaos. The more disordered something is, the more entropic we consider it. In short, we can define entropy as a measure of the disorder of the universe, on both a macro and a microscopic level. The Greek root of the word translates to “a turning towards transformation” — with that transformation being chaos.
Although the general tendency may be toward greater disorder in the universe, there evidently are periods with little change or even less disorder within the general tendency. We experience such a pattern in our world with regard to natural phenomena. In this regard, we will consider the number and intensity of earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornados in relatively recent history.
The following information on the USGS website (https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/why-are-we-having-so-many-earthquakes-has-naturally-occurring-earthquake-activity-been?qt-news_science_ products=0#qt-news_science_products) indicates that the worldwide total number of earthquakes each year has probably not increased, but the intensity of the earthquakes seems to have increased:
A temporary increase or decrease in seismicity is part of the normal fluctuation of earthquake rates. Neither an increase nor decrease worldwide is a positive indication that a large earthquake is imminent.
The ComCat earthquake catalog contains an increasing number of earthquakes in recent years – not because there are more earthquakes, but because there are more seismic instruments and they are able to record more earthquakes.
The National Earthquake Information Center now locates about 20,000 earthquakes around the globe each year, or approximately 55 per day.
According to long-term records (since about 1900), we expect about 16 major earthquakes in any given year. That includes 15 earthquakes in the magnitude 7 range and one earthquake magnitude 8.0 or greater. In the past 40-50 years, our records show that we have exceeded the long-term average number of major earthquakes about a dozen times.
The year with the largest total was 2010, with 23 major earthquakes (greater than or equal to magnitude 7.0). In other years the total was well below the annual long-term average of 16 major earthquakes. 1989 only had 6 major earthquakes and 1988 only had 7.
The following information on the PHYS,ORG website (https://phys.org/news/2020-10-trends-hurricane-behavior-stronger-slower.html) does not indicate if the worldwide total number of hurricanes each year has been increasing, but it does indicate that the intensity of the hurricanes has increased, as reflected by associated higher wind speeds and greater rainfall:
A new normal is taking shape as a warming planet is changing hurricane behaviors and patterns. Research over the last decade has shown alarming trends resulting in more destructive hurricanes. Global trends suggest hurricanes are getting stronger, moving more slowly over land, and deviating farther north and south of the equator.
With these changes come stronger winds, increased flooding, and risks posed to cities that historically have not been hit by these types of storms.
James Kossin has been studying hurricane patterns for more than 30 years as a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information who is based at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies.
Kossin’s latest research, published in May 2020 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined more than 40 years of hurricane data captured by weather satellites from 1979 to 2017. His analysis revealed an increasing trend of higher maximum sustained winds in hurricanes.
In short, hurricanes have gotten stronger.
“What we’re finding globally is about six percent per decade of change,” says Kossin. “If you have a hurricane, there is an increased chance of it being at major hurricane intensity compared to storms in past decades.”
In a related paper published in Nature in 2018, Kossin compared 68 years (1949-2016) of worldwide hurricane track and intensity data, known as best-track data, from NOAA and other agencies to identify changes in forward translation speeds—the speed at which a hurricane moves. Kossin found that, worldwide, hurricane translational speeds have slowed down by an average of 10 percent.
“Just a 10 percent slowdown in hurricane translational speed can more than double rainfall totals caused by a one-degree Celsius increase of global warming,” says Kossin.
The following information on the Wikipedia website (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tornado_ climatology) indicates that tornadoes are far more common in the United States than anywhere else on the earth, but does not indicate whether or not in recent decades the U.S. or worldwide total number of tornadoes each year or the intensity of the tornadoes has changed significantly:
Tornadoes have been recorded on all continents except Antarctica and are most common in the middle latitudes where conditions are often favorable for convective storm development. The United States has the most tornadoes of any country, as well as the strongest and most violent tornadoes. . . . Canada experiences the second most tornadoes. . . . Other areas of the world that have frequent tornadoes include significant portions of Europe, South Africa, Philippines, Bangladesh, parts of Argentina, Uruguay, and southern and southeast Brazil, northern Mexico, New Zealand, and far eastern Asia.
The severity of tornadoes is commonly measured by the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which scales tornado intensity from EF0 to EF5 by wind speed and the amount of damage they do to human environments.
[O]nly since 1976 in the United States and 2000 in Europe have thorough and accurate tornado statistics been logged. However, some trends can be noted in tornadoes causing significant damage in the United States, as somewhat reliable statistics on damaging tornadoes exist as far back as 1880. . . . [T]he 1980s seemed to be a period of unusually low tornado activity in the United States, and the number of multi-death tornadoes decreased every decade from the 1920s to the 1980s. . . .
The worldwide pandemic that began in 2019, which is referred to as the coronavirus or Covid 19 and includes variants of the coronavirus, is the most devastating single natural disaster since the 1918 influenza pandemic, in terms of human deaths . And, because of its impact on the world, people may believe that the coronavirus is a sign that the End Times are near. However, a plague such as the coronavirus is not one of the End Times natural disasters that are mentioned in the Bible.
Currently, there is no compelling reason to believe that common acts of nature such as earthquakes, hurricanes, or tornadoes in recent years indicate that the End Times will occur during the near future. Furthermore, although the coronavirus that has plagued the world in recent years is not common, there is no valid reason to believe that it is a sign that the End Times are imminent. [For a discussion of the End Times plagues, click on “What Does the Bible Say about End Times Plagues?”]