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TimeLine - Signs of the Times

Outstanding Global Threats to
Human Survival

We keep saying it: Humans are just so into themselves, attending to daily struggles, and meeting basic needs. The result: the big picture becomes far removed from what seems important. But if a global threat looms, smaller spheres of personal activity are of little consequence. It really does not matter how neat your room is if the house is being engulfed by a raging fire! So, what kinds of fires are out there ready to work their way to our personal space?

On a global scale, there was probably no threat to humanity as a whole until less than a century ago. The first inkling, perhaps, came in 1917–not with World War I, but with the outbreak of a particularly virulent strain of influenza, which killed more people during the course of the war (about 30 million) than the combat and bombing did. War, at that time, probably could not have threatened the whole human future. For war to threaten a territory required a massive mobilization of equipment, and many parts of the world remained untouched. For the flu, all it took was for a single person to arrive on foot, coughing.

A second global threat came a quarter-century later, with the development of a capability for intercontinental nuclear war. A third was the thinning of the ozone layer and the resulting increase in UV radiation. A fourth was the capability for biological warfare–first called "germ" warfare, but later renamed to include viruses and other forms of biological destruction. Ayers, God’s Last Offer, page 131

The inhabitants on Earth throughout human history were insulated from threats that today blossom to global proportions. The Earth was once spacious, expansive, seemingly with infinite resources with humanity thinly spread over the globe. But this is no longer the case! Now we are a close knit global community!

Personally, it's easier to relate to getting the flu than being affected by nuclear war, UV exposure due to ozone depletion, or biowarfare. After all, we've all been laid up by influenza, but few humans have experience with a nuclear blast or germ warfare agents. Might this perspective change soon? Terrorism now threatens to reach us al one way or the other! Certainly, before 9/11 there were no such global threats as now.

... The nuclear arms threat galvanized the world for decades, but then it too was largely forgotten with the end of the Superpower arms race. But it may quietly have grown rather than receded, as France, Iraq, Pakistan, and India have taken turns showing off their weapons. And the nuclear threat, like the long forgotten flu of 1917, has only mutated into a different form–a part of the underworld economy that could pose a more insidious danger than the old one. The biowarfare threat, too, was prematurely forgotten, and only in the last few years have officials awakened to its implications. Ayers, God’s Last Offer, page 132

The message here is that former threats only appear to go away. Looking again reveals another reality, the threats have changed form to be even more ominous than previously thought. When the US and Soviets aimed their nuclear weapons at one another there was the deterrent of mutual destruction. That scenario is now replaced by weapons in the hands of smaller states or even terror groups that respect no border nor any country. They do not look at use of nuclear weapons the same way as the Superpowers once did. The notion of gaining an advantage over an adversary by use of such weapons is the reality of today. The rules and perceptions changed and the Superpowers' 'checks and balances' are no longer in effect.

The follow-on lesson is even more important, the threats change so quickly as to catch us off guard. Only by thinking about the potential for what's out there can one anticipate the complexity and full extent of the threats before us today. Now, more than in any previous era of human existence we are faced with the question of survival.

We are not saying a certain result will necessarily come of all this. It's important to recognize the immense scale on which global change operates. Again, in past eras, the planet was large enough and distances great enough that such threats were nonexistent. The global community has indeed grown over the entire expanse of the earth. We can reach everywhere with the technologies and weapons at hand. Nature too, through disease and pestilence, now has the identical reach. The threat to human survival is now fixed as part of the larger global change scenario.

The importance to global change is in looking at how social, biological, and physical sciences all reveal data and signs for more ominous changes in the near future. This is change in every aspect of human and earthly affairs ... globally. The Window looks further to see change as a backdrop to a biblical timeline. Driving forces for change force us to ask the most important questions about our true origin, who we are, why we are here, and what the Scriptures tell us about the future. Change forces us to look deeper to face choice or crisis. Life is an opportunity to look for the answers.

Please Note! We are presenting a number of quotations in the "Signs of the Times" series that are taken from their original context. So Be Aware ... the impact of these statements is only heightened and intensified by a reading of the original text cited below. WindowView serves to reflect many original sources and in this case we highly recommend a reading of the entire book used as a source here! The 'Signs' are woefully important to revealing humanity's future, reading these quotations in their original context makes this point all the more clear!

Quotations attributed to 'Ayers' are from: Ed Ayers. 1999. God's Last Offer - Negotiating for a Sustainable Future. Published by: Four Walls Eight Windows (

Mr. Ayers is the Editor of World Watch magazine, a product of the Worldwatch Institute, Washington D.C. The institute is a 'think tank' that often puts out publications that note change in the world theater from the perspectives of economics, policy, resource uses, and the potential for global trends based on past and current human activity. This is a secular institution and the title of Mr. Ayers' book makes no special reference to a particular theological framework.

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