In the previous sections, we have seen that everything the Bible describes as being a characteristic of the Great Tribulation also correlates precisely to what is now expected to occur as a result of a global nuclear war. Even with this incredible correlation of prophecy with the known effects of nuclear weapons, there is one particular verse that on the surface may seem to contradict the verses that describe a period of darkness descending upon the Earth at that time (see Radioactive Fallout and Clouds of Dust). As a result of recent scientific research, however, this apparent inconsistency can now be fully understood.
In Revelation chapter 16, the Apostle John prophesies about the events that will accompany the out-pouring of the seven Bowls of Wrath, which are predicted to occur just prior to the Return of Christ. Many of these predictions accurately describe a number of thermonuclear effects such as radiation sickness and darkness. However, in almost the same breath that the Lord shows John a vision of darkness he also says this:
“And the fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun, and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.
“And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, who hath power over these plagues; and they repented not to give him glory.”
How is it that the Bible in one place can describe the sun as scorching men with great heat and in almost the same breath predict thick clouds of darkness obscuring its light? Since the sun is on average about 90 million miles away from the Earth and the total quantity of heat reaching us is relatively constant at that distance, it seems unlikely that the Lord is saying that our planet will somehow move closer to the sun or that the sun will grow considerably hotter. That would involve changes to the universe on a cosmic scale and would disturb the very functioning of the solar system. Also, seeing that the universe is not prophesied to be destroyed and renewed until after the 1000-year kingdom of Christ (more on this in the section on the Kingdom Age), we must look for an explanation to this scorching heat elsewhere.
I’m now convinced that this prophecy relates not to cosmic changes to our solar system, but to another of the unexpected effects of nuclear warfare that has only recently become known.
The National Academy of Sciences published a report in 1975 called the “Long-Term Worldwide Effects of Multiple Nuclear Weapons Detonations” (National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., p 163-164). The report said that any nuclear explosions of equal or greater than one megaton would create significant amounts of nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). These two compounds in particular are known to react in the stratosphere in a catalytic reaction cycle that ultimately destroys the protective ozone (O3) layer. The authors found that if a 10,000-megaton war was to occur, enough of these destructive compounds would be released to cause as much as a 70% reduction in the atmospheric ozone levels.
Paul Ehrlich, et al. have stated in their paper entitled “The Long-Term Biological Consequences of Nuclear War” the following with regard to this potential for ozone depletion:
“In the weeks following the exchange, tropospheric and stratospheric dust and soot would absorb the UV-B flux that would otherwise be transmitted by the partially destroyed ozonosphere. But when the dust and soot cleared a few months later, the effects of O3 depletion would be felt at the surface. In the Northern Hemisphere, the flux of UV-B would be enhanced for about a year by a factor of about 2 for the baseline TTAPS exchange and by a factor of 4 for the 10,000 MT war…
“Even much smaller O3 depletions are considered dangerous to ecosystems and to people. If the entire UV-B band is enhanced by about 50 percent, the amount of UV-B at the higher energy end of the band, near 295 nm, would be increased by a factor of about 50. This region has particular biological significance because of the strong absorption of energy at these wavelengths by nucleic acids, aromatic amino acids, and the peptide bond. In large doses UV-B is very destructive…” (Science, vol. 222, p. 1293 (1983)).
Ozone (O3) is formed in the upper atmosphere when sunlight strikes oxygen (O2). Although the total concentration of ozone in the air is less than 10 parts per million, its presence is critically important for life. This is due to the fact that the dangerous ultraviolet radiation emanating from the sun is to a large degree filtered and absorbed by the ozone in the highest altitudes of the stratosphere. Because of ozone’s absorptive ability, the relatively small percentage of UV light which currently makes it to the surface of the earth is not sufficient to endanger life. The sun’s UV flux can certainly cause tans or burns on exposed skin, but normally it is not a mortal danger to plants and animals.
This situation would drastically change, however, if something were to disturb the ozone layer and allow a significant amount of UV radiation to suddenly pass through the atmosphere without being absorbed.
Even today there is significant concern over the damage that substances like chlorofluorocarbons (which have been used in aerosols and refrigeration systems) can do to the ozone layer. Recent studies indicate that the overall atmospheric composition is a very delicate part of the ecosystem. Pollution with chlorofluorocarbons alone has already resulted in a significant reduction in world ozone levels—enough to see an associated increase in skin cancer. In fact, every year a gigantic “hole” forms in the ozone layer over Antarctica, which may be a direct result of this damage. Many scientific research papers have shown a correlation between decreases in stratospheric ozone and skin cancer (for a review see: Diaz, HJ (2014) Impact of Stratospheric Ozone Depletion on Solar Radiation-Induced Skin Cancer. J Carcinog & Mutagen S4:005. doi: 10.4172/2157-2518.S4-005).
Without sufficient ozone in the upper atmosphere, UV radiation would be so intense in the UV-B and UV-C regions that even briefly venturing outside unprotected would be a dangerous proposition. At present UV levels, only long-term exposure would cause severe burns or skin cancer, but if the ozone layer were completely removed or seriously depleted, it would only take a short exposure for the sun’s rays to cause irreversible harm. Jonathan Schell has said,
“…severe reduction of the ozone layer through nuclear explosions could shatter the ecological structure that permits man to remain alive on this planet” (Fate of the Earth, Schell, p. 79).
According to the results of a number of recent studies, after much of the dust of a nuclear exchange has cleared, the world will be left with a UV-transparent atmosphere which will allow, at some wavelengths, up to 50 times more radiation to reach the earth’s surface than does today. Even with the thick clouds of a post-holocaust world, the amount of UV radiation filtered by dust and smoke would not be enough to protect living organisms. Therefore, when the Lord says that men will be scorched by the heat of the sun he does not mean that the sun will get “hotter” by coming closer to us or by putting out more energy, but that the apparent effects of the sun’s radiation at the Earth’s surface will be significantly greater due to the destruction of the ozone layer.
Even the prophets of the Old Testament saw this End Times phenomenon. Isaiah said in chapter 30 of his book that in the Last Days…
“…the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, like the light of seven days…”
Speculation concerning just how much of the ozone layer will be destroyed in the coming nuclear war may be answered by this prophecy—it will cause precisely a seven-fold increase in UV light reaching the surface of the Earth.
Plants that may have survived the fires of the nuclear exchange followed by a many months-long period in subdued light due to the dusty post-holocaust environment would also have to contend with exposure to devastating levels of UV radiation. Clouds and dust are not efficient filters of UV light, so even in the dark post-nuclear world ozone depletion will be a serious threat. Most leaves would experience severe damage under such circumstances (Plant Physiol. Vol. 65, p. 483 (1980)). A darkened, dusty world would certainly make photosynthesis difficult, but an UV-enhanced environment could completely destroy the photosynthesizing compounds and for the first time make across-the-board plant extinction a distinct possibility.
In 2014, Mills et al. published a study that used newer climatic modeling to examine the effects of a nuclear exchange of more limited scope than the original TTAPS study, in which 100 Hiroshima sized weapons were used to strike major cities [see: Mills, M.J. et al., (2014) Multi-decadal global cooling and unprededented ozone loss following a regional nuclear conflict. Earth’s Future, 2, doi:10.1002/2013EF000205]. The effects of this war on global temperatures and ozone levels, they concluded, would be catastrophic. They said:
“…global ozone losses of 20-50% over populated areas, levels unprecedented in human history, would accompany the coldest average surface temperatures in the last 1000 years. We calculate summer enhancements in UV indices of 30-80% over Mid-Latitudes, suggesting widespread damage to human health, agriculture, and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Killing frosts would reduce growing seasons by 10-40 days per year for 5 years. Surface temperatures would be reduced for more than 25 years, due to thermal inertia and albedo effects in the ocean and expanded sea ice. The combined cooling and enhanced UV would put significant pressures on global food supplies and could trigger a global nuclear famine.”
So even in a more limited nuclear exchange, the ozone levels in the stratosphere would be affected worldwide and allow significantly increased amounts of UV light to penetrate to the surface. One of the first plants to feel the effect of UV would be the algae growing in the oceans of the world, which is the primary food source that supports the entire food chain. Jonathon Schell has stated,
“…the web of life in the oceans, perhaps more than any other part of the environment, is vulnerable to damage from increased ultraviolet radiation” (Fate of the Earth, Schell, p. 86).
The immune systems of humans and animals would also be significantly affected by increased UV Even relatively low doses of UV-B radiation will cause a suppression of the immune response and leave a surviving population ripe for the outbreak of epidemics (Science, vol. 222, p. 1293 (1983); Photochem. Photobiol. Vol. 20, p. 385 (1979)). Immune deficiency due to intense UV exposure would be like the AIDS problem magnified to a planet-wide scale. Didn’t Jesus predict that pestilence would increase in the last days (Matt. 24:7)? The ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy will no doubt be in the sick and dying post-holocaust world of the Great Tribulation.
Paul Ehrlich, et al. have studied an additional aspect of a UV-enhanced world. They said…
“Protracted exposure to increased UV-B may induce corneal damage and cataracts, leading to blindness in human beings and terrestrial mammals” (Science, vol. 222, p. 1293 (1983); D.M. Pitts, in “Hearings on the Consequences of Nuclear War on the Global Environment” (97th Congress, 2nd Session, Serial No. 171, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1983, pp. 83-101).
Even if the surviving people remain indoors or in shady outdoor areas, the ambient light from the sun will contain enough reflected UV light to eventually cause serious eye damage. The widespread blindness that no doubt will result from this exposure will further complicate any hopes of rebuilding civilization. In the book The Fate of the Earth, the following quotes can be found:
“The skin of many mammals would be protected by fur or other covering, but their eyes would remain exposed. In a recent lecture, Dr. Tsipis said that ozone reduction might bring about the blinding of the world’s animals, and that this effect alone would have the makings of a global ecological catastrophe.
“Photophthalmia is, in the words of the 1975 (National Academy of Sciences) report, ‘disabling and painful’; also, ‘there are no immune groups,’ and ‘there is no adaptation.’ One can avoid photophthalmia by wearing goggles whenever one goes outside, but so far the world has made no provision for each person on earth to have a pair of goggles in case the ozone is depleted. However, if the higher estimates of depletion turn out to be correct, people will not be able to stay outdoors very long any way. At these levels, ‘incapacitating’ sunburn would occur in several minutes’” (Fate of the Earth, Schell, p. 84).
The prospect of a blinded, surviving population is a terrifying scientific prediction, but it is also fascinating, because again it correlates perfectly to Biblical prophecy. In the 16th chapter of Revelation, after the Apostle John describes the scorching effects of the destruction of the ozone layer, he goes on to say that the “beast, and his kingdom was full of darkness” (Rev. 16:10). I previously interpreted this verse as being another one of the references to the clouds of dust obscuring the sun in those days, but that interpretation would seem to place the sequence of events out of order. If the visions of the trumpets and their aftereffects in chapter 9 already describe the atomic blasts and the accompanying dusty, gloomy world that would remain afterward, then perhaps chapter 16 continues on to tell us what will happen next. In this regard, Rev. 16:8-9 talks about the scorching sun and Rev. 16:10 immediately refers to the “darkness” of the kingdom. Could this darkness relate not to another description of thick clouds of smoke and dust (which may have somewhat dissipated by the time the depleted ozone would allow UV light to penetrate), but to the blindness of a decimated population? Even the last part of verse 10 seems to have reference to the painful effects of photophthalmia and radiation sickness since it predicts they “gnawed their tongues for pain”.
It is now obvious that the prophecies of the Trumpets and the Bowls of Wrath in the Book of Revelation describe in perfect chronological order exactly what is understood to occur during and after a large-scale nuclear war. The prophecies of the End Times prove that only the power of a God who created everything and has foreknowledge of what will occur in the future could possibly predict the final wars and the effects of nuclear weapons with such horrible precision.