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The Drought in Iraq: The Sign of End Times or Climate Change?

For the last few years, the middle east has been experiencing a serious drought causing the marshes, rivers, and lakes to run completely dry, more specifically The Euphrates. The Euphrates river is the main source of water for many middle eastern countries which is important in such a dry climate. The Euphrates also has historical and Biblical significance as the Christian Bible contains a prophecy that the end times are near when the river is to run dry.

Turkish Policy

The Euphrates’ problems begin more than 1,000 miles upstream, near the river’s catchment area below the Taurus Mountains in eastern Turkey. In a battle between Iraq and Turkey for natural resources from the river, Turkey has been funding a large number of dams and hydroelectric plants on both the Tigris, another river in the middle east that is drying up, and the Euphrates. In 1974 the Keban Dam was opened on the Upper Euphrates. The Ataturk Dam was finished in 1990. The ongoing Southeastern Anatolia Project, a $32 billion scheme to build 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric plants on both the Tigris and the Euphrates, will eventually provide nearly one-quarter of Turkey’s electricity. Syria has also contributed to the diminishing river as a few more dams have been operating since the 70s, causing the water flow into Iraq to drop by nearly two-thirds.

Climate Change

Climate change is also having a substantial effect on the disaster in Iraq. They are currently experiencing record-low yearly rainfall totals due to extreme decreases in evaporation rates. Iraqis that live along the river complain that the summers have grown noticeably unbearable as the years pass, with midday temperatures around 111 degrees Fahrenheit between June and September. A 2013 study by the World Resources Institute projected that by 2025, Iraq’s water outlook will be “exceptionally more stressed.” In other words, the researchers said, “basic services (e.g. power, drinking water distribution) are likely at risk and require significant intervention and major sustained investments.”

Diminishing Fertile Land

The land around the Euphrates that once flourished is beginning its decline into desert land. A variety of life lives in the river as well as the marshes that feed off the river. Not only this but there are villages and people along the river who use its resources in their daily lives. The new report shows that one in three families in drought hotspots had to reduce the area of land that they plant, resulting in the loss of crops and incomes and displaying the loss of fertile land.

Biblical Prophecy

The Bible discusses the seven bowls of God’s wrath in the book of Revelations, the sixth is the point when the Euphrates runs dry. Revelation 16:12 says, “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.” At that point, Jesus returns, and the battle fought at Armageddon will result in all God’s enemies being destroyed (Revelation 16:17–20; 19:11–21). Then the seventh bowl is the end. A great storm is sent from above and the cities are destroyed. So is this a potential fulfillment of an end-times prophecy?

According to, it’s not. Here’s why:

Concerning John’s vision that the Euphrates will dry up, that will have a future fulfillment. The current drying up of the Euphrates is not related to the prophecy of Revelation 16:12, for these reasons:

1) The sixth bowl judgment comes near the end of the tribulation. Before the sixth bowl, the Antichrist will rise to power, the two miracle-working prophets will preach, and many terrible judgments will occur. We are not in the tribulation now.

2) According to Revelation 18:17–19, Babylon in the end times will do much commerce by ship, suggesting that the rivers in that area are freely flowing during the tribulation, at least for a while.

3) The supernatural drying up of the Euphrates in Revelation 16:12 allows an army from the Orient to march westward. No such army is threatening Israel now.

A lot of Christians have taken to the internet to express their opinions on what this could mean but, Biblical prophecy or not, it is time we begin to recognize the impact societal norms have on the natural world around us.

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