Do You Recognize the Meaning of What You See?
SCIENTISTS have called 1976 one of the worst years in history in terms of deaths from earthquakes. There were some 700,000 quake-related deaths. Each year, a few hundred or tens of thousands of persons may die in earthquakes. Did you know that?
Perhaps you heard about the earthquake alert in San Francisco on April 18, 1980. That was the 74th anniversary of the devastating 1906 quake there. Why the alert? Because scientists predict that the city may well experience another disastrous quake before the end of this century. In fact, in the United States during 1978, a total of 345 earthquakes were reported in 28 different states.
If you live in an area where there have been no earthquakes, you have reason to be grateful. But don’t be complacent. A study entitled “Earthquakes” published by the Munich Reinsurance Company, in Germany, reports: “Major quakes have made it clear in recent years that we are living in a period of increasing earthquake activity. . . . There are areas with a higher probability of earthquake damage and other regions where earthquakes are less probable. One is, however, well advised to remember that earthquakes may occur at any place. . . . It can, therefore, not be ruled out that even a major quake may originate from a place which did not give rise to suspicion.”
Just what is a “major” quake? Well, to the one whose property is destroyed or who loses a family member, it is a major earthquake regardless of what anyone else says. But perhaps the chart on the next page will help you to understand what scientists mean by the figures that they use.
Imagine, if you can, what it would be like if an earthquake were to strike where you live—RIGHT NOW! If it were of sufficient intensity, in a matter of seconds your car could be a hopeless wreck, your home an unrepairable shambles and you and your loved ones could be seriously injured—or worse. That is the sort of thing that happens each year to people in many parts of the earth, and with increasing frequency.
Has the frequency of earthquakes really increased? The Italian magazine Il Piccolo observed: “Our generation lives in a dangerous period of high seismic activity, as statistics show.” And then it produced figures for the past thousand years to prove it.
What does it all mean? Long ago the Bible foretold a time when, along with international wars and food shortages, there would be “earthquakes in one place after another.” (Matt. 24:7) This is now taking place on a scale unequaled in human history. The Bible mentions such earthquakes as part of a composite sign identifying the last days, the conclusion of the wicked world system of things. It also associates them with the invisible “presence” of Jesus Christ, the time when he would begin to exercise God-given authority as king over all mankind.
Although most persons are fearful of what they see coming upon the world, those who understand the significance of what they see have reason to rejoice. The Bible says: “As these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near. . . . When you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near.”—Luke 21:10, 11, 28-31.
A new government, the kingdom of God, is about to destroy all human governments and replace them with a righteous administration. What a blessing that will be for all who long for life free from oppression and corruption, in a world where people truly love one another!
So, when you hear reports of “earthquakes in one place after another,” remember that they are part of the foretold sign that worldwide change is near at hand.
[Diagram on page 21]
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The open-ended Richter scale compares the amount of energy released by earthquakes. It is logarithmic, which means that a quake one point higher on the scale (5 instead of 4, for example) will release about 30 times as much energy as the quake rated one point lower.
“Every day more than 1,000 earthquakes with a reading of at least two are recorded across the world.”—Toronto Star, May 15, 1976.
A quake measuring four can cause moderate damage.
A quake measuring five can cause considerable damage.
A quake measuring six is considered severe.
The southern California quake of 1971 measured 6.5; in 1976 alone, there were 50 quakes world wide that measured as high or higher.
Japan, the Soviet Union, Taiwan, Costa Rica, Iran, Mexico and the Philippines were among the countries struck by 17 “major” quakes throughout the world during 1978.
A quake measuring seven is considered “major”.
A specialist in quakeproof engineering termed the 1976 China quake, which may have killed over half a million people, “the greatest earthquake disaster in the history of mankind.”
“Earthquake Strikes Indian Ocean,” read the headlines of the August 20, 1977, New York Times: “Monitoring stations around the world reported the strength of the tremor at between 7.7 and 8.9 on the Richter scale. Vienna seismologists . . . said . . . the quake was ‘one of the strongest in recorded history.’”
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