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Are the deserts getting greener?

It has been assumed that global warming would cause an expansion of the world's deserts, but now some scientists are predicting a contrary scenario in which water and life slowly reclaim these arid places.

They think vast, dry regions like the Sahara might soon begin shrinking.

The evidence is limited and definitive conclusions are impossible to reach but recent satellite pictures of North Africa seem to show areas of the Sahara in retreat.

It could be that an increase in rainfall has caused this effect.

Farouk el-Baz, director of the Centre for Remote Sensing at Boston University, believes the Sahara is experiencing a shift from dryer to wetter conditions...

...Further, the Egyptian government is actually sponsoring people to settle in the desert to farm, using the water supply they can now tap into and pump out from under the sand.

The programme is part of an ambitious and controversial plan to reclaim 3.4 million acres of desert.

The trend in other parts of the continent may be a migration of people into the cities and away from arid and semi-arid places, but in Egypt, where the desert is undeniably getting greener, the reverse is true.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8150415.stm

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Now, undoubtedly, we will begin hearing how the shrinking of the Sahara Desert is a bad thing.

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Here's a good article from The Spectator [spectator.co.uk] on Prof. Ian Plimer, a geologist who has just published the book Heaven and Earth: Global Warming--The Missing Science that examines the dearth of scientific facts behind the global warming scare. Significantly, since the book was published, Plimer has been the object of demonstrations, boycotts, attempts to have his book removed from shops, and a smear campaign aimed at impugning his reputation as a scientist and even as a human being. Because, you see, global warming is a religion, and Gaia is a jealous goddess.

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James Delingpole talks to Professor Ian Plimer, the Australian geologist, whose new book shows that ‘anthropogenic global warming’ is a dangerous, ruinously expensive fiction, a ‘first-world luxury’ with no basis in scientific fact. Shame on the publishers who rejected the book

Imagine how wonderful the world would be if man-made global warming were just a figment of Al Gore’s imagination. No more ugly wind farms to darken our sunlit uplands. No more whopping electricity bills, artificially inflated by EU-imposed carbon taxes. No longer any need to treat each warm, sunny day as though it were some terrible harbinger of ecological doom. And definitely no need for the $7.4 trillion cap and trade (carbon-trading) bill — the largest tax in American history — which President Obama and his cohorts are so assiduously trying to impose on the US economy.

Imagine no more, for your fairy godmother is here. His name is Ian Plimer, Professor of Mining Geology at Adelaide University, and he has recently published the landmark book Heaven And Earth, which is going to change forever the way we think about climate change.

‘The hypothesis that human activity can create global warming is extraordinary because it is contrary to validated knowledge from solar physics, astronomy, history, archaeology and geology,’ says Plimer, and while his thesis is not new, you’re unlikely to have heard it expressed with quite such vigour, certitude or wide-ranging scientific authority. Where fellow sceptics like Bjorn Lomborg or Lord Lawson of Blaby are prepared cautiously to endorse the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) more modest predictions, Plimer will cede no ground whatsoever. Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory, he argues, is the biggest, most dangerous and ruinously expensive con trick in history.

To find out why, let’s meet the good professor. He’s a tanned, rugged, white-haired sixtysomething — courteous and jolly but combative when he needs to be — glowing with the health of a man who spends half his life on field expeditions to Iran, Turkey and his beloved Outback. And he’s sitting in my garden drinking tea on exactly the kind of day the likes of the Guardian’s George Monbiot would probably like to ban. A lovely warm sunny one.

So go on then, Prof. What makes you sure that you’re right and all those scientists out there saying the opposite are wrong? ‘I’m a geologist. We geologists have always recognised that climate changes over time. Where we differ from a lot of people pushing AGW is in our understanding of scale. They’re only interested in the last 150 years. Our time frame is 4,567 million years. So what they’re doing is the equivalent of trying to extrapolate the plot of Casablanca from one tiny bit of the love scene. And you can’t. It doesn’t work.’

What Heaven And Earth sets out to do is restore a sense of scientific perspective to a debate which has been hijacked by ‘politicians, environmental activists and opportunists’. It points out, for example, that polar ice has been present on earth for less than 20 per cent of geological time; that extinctions of life are normal; that climate changes are cyclical and random; that the CO2 in the atmosphere — to which human activity contributes the tiniest fraction — is only 0.001 per cent of the total CO2 held in the oceans, surface rocks, air, soils and life; that CO2 is not a pollutant but a plant food; that the earth’s warmer periods — such as when the Romans grew grapes and citrus trees as far north as Hadrian’s Wall — were times of wealth and plenty.

All this is scientific fact — which is more than you can say for any of the computer models turning out doomsday scenarios about inexorably rising temperatures, sinking islands and collapsing ice shelves. Plimer doesn’t trust them because they seem to have little if any basis in observed reality.

‘I’m a natural scientist. I’m out there every day, buried up to my neck in sh**, collecting raw data. And that’s why I’m so sceptical of these models, which have nothing to do with science or empiricism but are about torturing the data till it finally confesses. None of them predicted this current period we’re in of global cooling. There is no problem with global warming. It stopped in 1998. The last two years of global cooling have erased nearly 30 years of temperature increase.’

Plimer’s uncompromising position has not made him popular. ‘They say I rape cows, eat babies, that I know nothing about anything. My favourite letter was the one that said: “Dear sir, drop dead”. I’ve also had a demo in Sydney outside one of my book launches, and I’ve had mothers coming up to me with two-year-old children in their arms saying: “Don’t you have any kind of morality? This child’s future is being destroyed.’’’ Plimer’s response to the last one is typically robust. ‘If you’re so concerned, why did you breed?’

This no-nonsense approach may owe something to the young Ian’s straitened Sydney upbringing. His father was crippled with MS, leaving his mother to raise three children on a schoolteacher’s wage. ‘We couldn’t afford a TV — not that TV even arrived in Australia till 1956. We’d use the same brown paper bag over and over again for our school lunches, always turn off the lights, not because of some moral imperative but out of sheer bloody necessity.’

One of the things that so irks him about modern environmentalism is that it is driven by people who are ‘too wealthy’. ‘When I try explaining “global warming” to people in Iran or Turkey they have no idea what I’m talking about. Their life is about getting through to the next day, finding their next meal. Eco-guilt is a first-world luxury. It’s the new religion for urban populations which have lost their faith in Christianity. The IPCC report is their Bible. Al Gore and Lord Stern are their prophets.’

Heaven And Earth is the offspring of a pop science book Plimer published in 2001 called A Short History of Planet Earth. It was based on ten years’ worth of broadcasts for ABC radio aimed mainly at people in rural areas. Though the book was a bestseller and won a Eureka prize, ABC refused to publish the follow-up; so did all the other major publishers he approached: ‘There’s a lot of fear out there. No one wants to go against the popular paradigm.’

Then someone put him in touch with a tiny publishing outfit in the middle of the bush — ‘husband, wife, three kids, so poor they didn’t even have curtains’ — and they said yes. Plimer couldn’t bring himself to accept an advance they clearly couldn’t afford. But then something remarkable happened. In just two days, the book sold out its 5,000 print run. Five further editions followed in swift succession. It has now sold 26,500 copies in Australia alone — with similarly exciting prospects in Britain and the US. There’s even an edition coming out in ultra-green Germany.

But surely Aussies of all people, with their bushfires and prolonged droughts, ought to be the last to buy into his message? ‘Ah, but the average punter is not a fool. I get sometimes as many as 1,000 letters and emails a day from people who feel helpless and disenfranchised and just bloody sick of all the nonsense they hear about global warming from metropolitan liberals who don’t even know where meat or milk comes from.’

Besides which, Australia’s economy is peculiarly vulnerable to the effects of climate change alarmism. ‘Though we have 40 per cent of the world’s uranium, we don’t have nuclear energy. We’re reliant mainly on bucketloads of cheap coal. Eighty per cent of our electricity is coal-generated and clustered around our coalfields are our aluminium producers. The very last thing the Australian economy needs is the cap and trade legislation being proposed by Kevin Rudd. If it gets passed, the country will go broke.’

Not for one second does Plimer believe it will get passed. As with its US equivalent the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill, Kevin Rudd’s Emission Trading Scheme legislation narrowly squeaked its way through the House of Representatives. But again as in America, the real challenge lies with the upper house, the Senate. Thanks in good measure to the influence of Plimer and his book — ‘I have politicians ringing me all the time’ — the Senate looks likely to reject the bill. If it does so twice, then the Australian government will collapse, a ‘double dissolution’ will be forced and a general election called. ‘Australia is at a very interesting point in the climate change debate,’ says Plimer.

The potential repercussions outside Oz, of course, are even greater. Until this year, environmental legislation has enjoyed a pretty easy ride through the parliaments of the Anglosphere and the Eurosphere, with greener-than-thou politicians (from Dave ‘Windmill’ Cameron to Dave ‘climate change deniers are the flat-earthers of the 21st century’ Miliband) queuing up to impose ever more stringent carbon emissions targets and taxes on their hapless electorates.

In the days when most people felt rich enough to absorb these extra costs and guilty enough to think they probably deserved them, the politicians could get away with it. But the global economic meltdown has changed all that. As countless opinion surveys have shown, the poorer people feel, the lower down their list of priorities ecological righteousness sinks. ‘It’s one of the few good things to come out of this recession,’ says Plimer. ‘People are starting to ask themselves: “Can we really afford this green legislation?”’

Reading Plimer’s Heaven And Earth is at once an enlightening and terrifying experience. Enlightening because, after 500 pages of heavily annotated prose (the fruit of five years’ research), you are left in no doubt that man’s contribution to the thing they now call ‘climate change’ was, is and probably always will be negligible. Terrifying, because you cannot but be appalled by how much money has been wasted, how much unnecessary regulation drafted because of a ‘problem’ that doesn’t actually exist. (South Park, as so often, was probably the first to point this out in a memorable episode where Al Gore turns up to warn the school kids about a terrible beast, looking a bit like the Gruffalo, known as ManBearPig.)

Has it come in time to save the day, though? If there’s any justice, Heaven And Earth will do for the cause of climate change realism what Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth did for climate change alarmism. But as Plimer well knows, there is now a powerful and very extensive body of vested interests up against him: governments like President Obama’s, which intend to use ‘global warming’ as an excuse for greater taxation, regulation and protectionism; energy companies and investors who stand to make a fortune from scams like carbon trading; charitable bodies like Greenpeace which depend for their funding on public anxiety; environmental correspondents who need constantly to talk up the threat to justify their jobs.

Does he really believe his message will ever get through? Plimer smiles. ‘If you’d asked any scientist or doctor 30 years ago where stomach ulcers come from, they would all have given the same answer: obviously it comes from the acid brought on by too much stress. All of them apart from two scientists who were pilloried for their crazy, whacko theory that it was caused by a bacteria. In 2005 they won the Nobel prize. The “consensus” was wrong.’

Ian Plimer’s Heaven And Earth: Global Warming — the Missing Science is published by Quartet (£25).

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Chicago Sees Coldest July in 67 Years [cbs2chicago.com]
Average Temperature Only 68.9 Degrees

Yep! Cooling temperatures are proof of global warming say some. They stand so strongly against science that the earth could cool until we all freeze to death and they will still claim global warming. Global warming is an anti-science based religion. Al Gore is getting rich off these people. But don't let them tax you over it. We must defeat Cap & Tax in the Senate.

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Yep! Cooling temperatures are proof of global warming say some. They stand so strongly against science that the earth could cool until we all freeze to death and they will still claim global warming.

Fret not! Back in the seventies, when the coming ice age was all the rage, rising temperatures were hailed as evidence of global cooling. And by the same people who today claim that falling temperatures is proof of global warming.

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Send me some global warming. All my tomato plants curled up and rotted over the weekend due to a blight caused by too much moisture and too little warm nights.

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Global warming is the new religion of First World urban elites [vancouversun.com]

Geologist Ian Plimer takes a contrary view, arguing that man-made climate change is a con trick perpetuated by environmentalists

By Jonathan Manthorpe, Vancouver Sun


Ian Plimer has outraged the ayatollahs of purist environmentalism, the Torquemadas of the doctrine of global warming, and he seems to relish the damnation they heap on him.

Plimer is a geologist, professor of mining geology at Adelaide University, and he may well be Australia's best-known and most notorious academic.

Plimer, you see, is an unremitting critic of "anthropogenic global warming" -- man-made climate change to you and me -- and the current environmental orthodoxy that if we change our polluting ways, global warming can be reversed.

It is, of course, not new to have a highly qualified scientist saying that global warming is an entirely natural phenomenon with many precedents in history. Many have made the argument, too, that it is rubbish to contend human behaviour is causing the current climate change. And it has often been well argued that it is totally ridiculous to suppose that changes in human behaviour -- cleaning up our act through expensive slight-of-hand taxation tricks -- can reverse the trend.

But most of these scientific and academic voices have fallen silent in the face of environmental Jacobinism. Purging humankind of its supposed sins of environmental degradation has become a religion with a fanatical and often intolerant priesthood, especially among the First World urban elites.

But Plimer shows no sign of giving way to this orthodoxy and has just published the latest of his six books and 60 academic papers on the subject of global warming. This book, Heaven and Earth -- Global Warming: The Missing Science, draws together much of his previous work. It springs especially from A Short History of Plant Earth, which was based on a decade of radio broadcasts in Australia.




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The New York Times [nytimes.com] says it, so it must be true:



September 23, 2009
Momentum on Climate Pact Is Elusive

By ANDREW C. REVKIN

The world leaders who met at the United Nations to discuss climate change on Tuesday are faced with an intricate challenge: building momentum for an international climate treaty at a time when global temperatures have been relatively stable for a decade and may even drop in the next few years.

The plateau in temperatures has been seized upon by skeptics as evidence that the threat of global warming is overblown. And some climate experts worry that it could hamper treaty negotiations and slow the progress of legislation to curb carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.

Scientists say the pattern of the last decade — after a precipitous rise in average global temperatures in the 1990s — is a result of cyclical variations in ocean conditions and has no bearing on the long-term warming effects of greenhouse gases building up in the atmosphere.

But trying to communicate such scientific nuances to the public — and to policy makers — can be frustrating, they say.

Mojib Latif, a prize-winning climate and ocean scientist from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Kiel, in Germany, wrote a paper last year positing that cyclical shifts in the oceans were aligning in a way that could keep temperatures over the next decade or so relatively stable, even as the heat-trapping gases linked to global warming continued to increase.

But Dr. Latif, who gives about 200 talks to the public, business leaders and officials each year, said he had been met with confusion and even anger when he tried to describe this normal variation in climate while at the same time conveying the long-term threat of global warming.

“People understand what I’m saying, but then basically wind up saying, ‘We don’t believe anything,’ ” he said in a telephone interview.

Other climate researchers dispute Dr. Latif’s forecast, saying that climate cannot be reliably predicted on such a short time scale, though even they agree that sooner or later, cool stretches are inevitable.

Underscoring just how little clarity there is on short-term temperature fluctuations, researchers from Britain’s climate change office, in a paper published in August, projected “an end to this period of relative stability,” with half the years between now and 2015 exceeding the record-setting global temperatures of 1998.

Whatever the next decade may hold, critics of global warming have lost no time in using the current temperature plateau to build their case.

“I think it supports the arguments of those who’ve said, ‘What’s the rush for policy on this issue?’ ” said Patrick J. Michaels, a climatologist affiliated with George Mason University and the Cato Institute, a group opposing most regulatory solutions to environmental problems.

The recent stability of global temperatures makes regular appearances in blog postings disputing the reality of global warming and is frequently invoked by pundits who oppose the climate bill that passed the House this year and is pending in the Senate.

Advocates of such regulatory measures are equally vehement. In a post last week on his blog, Climate Progress, Joseph Romm, a physicist and energy expert affiliated with the liberal Center for American Progress, wrote that statements by climate skeptics about planetary cooling were “nonsense.”

“We need all the unmuffled warnings we can get given that humans are not like slowly boiling frogs, we are like slowly boiling brainless frogs,” he wrote.

The recent spate of years with stable temperatures is particularly noticeable because it followed a seesawing from unusually cool temperatures to unusually hot ones in the 1990s, said Vicky Pope of Britain’s climate agency, called the Met Office.

The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines had a cooling influence, as the volcano threw off veil-like emissions. Then, in 1998, an El Niño episode in the Pacific Ocean set off a record-setting hot spell.

The global average temperature is now only 0.13 degree Fahrenheit higher than it was in 1999, according to the British meteorology office.

A series of unremarkable storm seasons followed the string of destructive storms in 2004 and 2005 that included Hurricane Katrina. And in the Arctic, an extraordinary summer retreat of sea ice in 2007 has been followed by less substantial losses and projections by some researchers of a possible, if temporary, recovery.

Most climate scientists stand firm in their projections of centuries of rising seas and other disruptive effects of a warming planet if humans take no steps to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases.

In an address to world leaders at the climate summit meeting on Tuesday, Rajendra K. Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has advised the world’s nations on climate issues for 20 years, described the mounting risk and said, “Science leaves us no space for inaction now.”

A clearer view of whether the recent temperature plateau undermines arguments for dangerous climate change in the long run should come in a few years, as the predictions made by the British climate researchers are tested. Their paper appeared in a supplement to an August issue of The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

While the authors concluded that there was a 1 in 8 chance of having a decade-long pause in warming like the current plateau, even with rising concentrations of greenhouse gases, the odds of a 15-year pause, they wrote, are only 5 in 100. As a result, the next few years of observations could tip the balance toward further concern or greater optimism.

Meanwhile, social scientists who study the way people understand and respond to environmental problems say it is not surprising that the current temperature stability has created confusion and apathy.

Getting people to care about a climate threat that is decades away is hard enough, they say, without adding in the vagaries of natural climate cycles.

At best, said Robert J. Brulle, a sociologist at Drexel University, global warming remains an abstraction for many people.

“It does not have the direct visual or emotive impact of seeing seabirds covered in oil from the Exxon Valdez oil spill,” he said.


Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company
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"Send me some global warming. All my tomato plants curled up and rotted over the weekend due to a blight caused by too much moisture and too little warm nights."

Some varieties have trouble in my area for the heat, so don't ask for too much. I didn't grow tomatoes this year but I may next year.

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The usual problem we have down here is it gets very hot and dry in July-August, then we get a huge amount of rain in September. In the drought, the tomatoes get really thick skins (holds in the moisture), but when it rains, the skins can't stretch to accommodate the water, and the tomato splits wide open. This year, July and August were really cool and damp, so the tomato crop has been magnificent.

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Tomatoes seem to like it to the 90s, but this June we had a few weeks where the temperature was in the low 100s. My peppers loved the heat as long as they had enough water, but I lost some herbs in that heat.

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My tomato crop was a failure this year, same as Theophan's. The blight from the cool wet weather was terrible.

I tore out two-thirds of my blighted plants in early July. I thought the rest looked ok, but then they blighted later; they must have had some resistance. I hope I caught the blight in time; otherwise my ground will be infected for at least three year. That's if I don't plant tomatoes or potatoes; otherwise it will continue indefinitely.

This is the same infamous blight which cause the infamous Irish famine in the 1800's and resulted in the mass exodus to the USA.

Now here we are in September and it's barely rained; its been a very cool summer here in Western PA.

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More bad news for climate alarmists from Physics World [physicsworld.com]

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The Sun could be heading into period of extended calm
Sep 23, 2009

Solar hosepipe Sun continues to spray Earth even during the "quiet times"
Researchers in the US may have discovered further evidence that the Sun is heading towards an extended period of quiet activity, the like of which has not been seen since the 17th century. The impact this may have on climate is poorly understood but it would be good news for satellite communications, which would continue to avoid the harsher impacts of space weather.

Scientists have long known that the Sun's magnetic activity varies over a cycle of approximately 11 years. Greater magnetic activity leads to more "sunspots", or darker patches visible on the solar surface. These sunspots are regions where the magnetic field lines have become twisted due to differential rotation in the outer layers of the Sun.

Particularly violent sunspots can result in the sudden release of magnetic energy in the form of solar flares, which cause the outpouring of protons and electrons into space. Some of these particles can reach the Van Allen radiation belt of Earth – the outer region of Earth's own magnetic field – where they are accelerated to speeds approaching the speed of light. During the solar maxima, when sunspot numbers are at their peak, the abundance of particles shooting around in the radiation belt can become a real hazard to the satellites that reside there.

Extended calm

We were expecting to reach the next solar maxima around 2011–2012. However, space weather experts have been surprised over the past few years to report very few signs that the number of sunspots has been picking up since the last solar minimum in 2006. This has prompted some space scientists to forecast that we are heading towards another prolonged spell of quiet sunspot activity, the last of which was observed between 1645 and 1715 in a period called the "Maunder Minimum".

In this latest research, Sarah Gibson at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Colorado and her colleagues focused on another process by which the Sun discharges energy. They looked at the lower-energy streams of plasma that carry protons and electrons towards the Earth at a steadier rate than the storms associated with sunspots. Scientists had previously thought that these streams largely disappeared during periods of quiet sunspot activity.

The researchers found that the Sun's effect on the Van Allen radiation belt was three times greater in 2008 than the effect recorded in 1996 during the previous solar minimum. The result comes as a surprise given that the current solar minimum has fewer sunspots than any minimum of the past 75 years.
Strength a sign of weakness

Gibson told physicsworld.com that it could be the current "weakness of the Sun" that could account for the strengthened solar streams. This is because during solar maxima, when sunspots appear in abundance, the strong solar magnetic field acts to contain the solar streams. However, when sunspot activity is very quiet, this is a sign that the field is significantly weakened and this can allow stronger solar streams to escape through "coronal holes". "The solar wind can hit Earth like a fire hose even when there are virtually no sunspots," she said.

The particularly strong solar streams of 2008 could, according to Gibson, be another sign that the Sun is in an unusually weak state at the moment. The study also raises questions about how the streams may have affected Earth in the past when the Sun went through extended periods of low sunspot activity.

Steven Schwartz, a space and atmospheric physicist at Imperial College in London agrees that space weather and climate models could benefit from an improved understanding of the Sun's magnetic activity and its impact on Earth. "This research shows that while we know a lot about the Sun and its impact on the Earth, there are still important elements we don't really understand yet," he said.

In terms of day-to-day threats to satellites from space weather, these latest findings could be good news for satellite communication companies that feared that they may have "had it too good" in recent years. As the space weather conditions for satellites were assumed to be glorious, there had been little assurance that the technology could still function properly as conditions get harsher when we move towards the next solar maximum. "This technology managed to pull through the peak in this solar stream, which is now subsiding, so it should be okay as solar flare activity increases," said Doug Biesecker, a space weather scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

About the author
James Dacey is a reporter for physicsworld.com

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The global warming people are simply not going to let a good crisis go to waste. They have no interest in science. It's a new religion. Listen to their silliness. It's about power and control of others.

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Scripture foretells that during the Tribulation the sun will scorch people and that the heat will be intense Isaiah 49:10, Revelation 7:16 & 16:8.

Blessings,
Chana

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