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I am not an Environmentalist

My name is Noam Dolgin. I am environmental educator, activist, organizer, advocate, campaigner, crusader, agitator, professional, and I aspire to someday play the role of envrio-guru. But I am not an environmentalist!

I do not ascribe to a ‘distinct doctrine’ known as environmentalism. It is not my ‘belief’ that I exist due my relationship with the Earth, I know it to be true. The fact is, each of us breaths eats and drinks from the Earth. We utilize Earth’s minerals, fossil fuels, and land in every moment. Our carbon footprint, our waste, and the resources we extract from Earth are not beliefs, they are an unfortunate reality (Someone else once called them an ‘inconvenient truth’). Teaching people about nurturing and sustaining that relationship for the betterment of the planet and human kind is not an ideology, it is a necessity.

Over the years I have explored and taught many isms: Judaism, Humanism, Zionism, Socialism, Libertarianism, and more. One of the challenges in my work as a Jewish environmental educator is to simultaneously separate and integrate the beliefs of Judaism with the facts of environmental responsibility. Fortunately, more often than not, the belief system of Judaism and the facts of environmental responsibility go hand in hand. Judaism is a belief that I hope will lead me to morally right behavior. Environmental responsibility is the reality of our generation if we hope to pass on a planet similar to the one we inherited.

This is not just a matter of definition. In the United States and around the world, the Right has effectively branded environmental responsibility, and, by extension science, as an ‘ism’, where it has been debated as a matter of ideology and relegated to far left politics. As a result, scientific discourse often holds equal weight to religious discourse in political and policy discussions, leading to endless debate and inaction, where action is imminently needed.

As religious environmental leaders we must lead the charge in separating fact from belief. We must work to place science and environmental responsibility on a separate plane from religious beliefs. This starts in our daily work, where we must effectively teach science AND religion to our students. We also need to go beyond our students. We need to take our message to the streets to politicians and religious leaders. Religion and science, fact and belief, data and isms; Each are separate and important, but should not be confused with one another.

I work daily to protect people and the planet from human caused environmental degradation and I ask you to join me. Not as an environmentalist, as a human being.

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  • Evonne Marzouk
    August 31, 2011 (7:53 pm)

    Noam, I agree with you 100%. Protecting the environment is not a religion, and pretending that our resources are limitless will not make them so! The environmental challenges of our generation are scientific facts. The key question is, how can we make people pay attention to them, and change their actions in response to them?

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