Jewish Energy Guide: The Science of Climate Change

By Dr. Daniel Ziskin

Everybody knows what weather means. What’s the temperature? Is it raining? Snowing? Just poke your head outside and you’ve got weather. Weather is the instantaneous atmospheric conditions we experience. Climate, however, is something different. Climate is the average of the weather over time and space. But taking the average of a constantly changing and location-specific phenomenon is complex. Are we talking about a monthly average? Seasonal? Yearly? Of a county? A state? The northern hemisphere, or globally? Climate depends on the temporal and spatial domain you’ve selected so there isn’t just one climate.

To further complicate the issue, suppose we are talking about the global mean of annual surface temperature. If it is stated that this value is increasing by one degree, it doesn’t mean that it is increasing everywhere by that amount. Some places will be getting much warmer than other places. Some places, due to shifts in wind and precipitation patterns, might even cool a little bit. In terms of the observed climate change which will be described below, it is also quite likely that we will see colder winters even as the average temperature increases.

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Dr. Daniel Ziskin is the founder and president of Jews of the Earth in Boulder, Colo., and is a transportation specialist at Boulder Climate Action Network. Previously he worked at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Geophysical Data Center, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Distributed Active Archive Center. A former member of the board of directors of the Green Zionist Alliance, Ziskin earned his doctorate in physics at Johns Hopkins University, where he wrote his dissertation on climate change.

The Jewish Energy Guide presents a comprehensive Jewish approach to the challenges of energy security and climate change and offers a blueprint for the Jewish community to achieve a 14% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by September of 2014, which is the next Shmittah, or sabbatical, year in the Jewish calendar.

The Jewish Energy Guide is part of COEJL's Jewish Energy Network, a collaborative effort with Jewcology's Year of Action to engage Jews in energy action and advocacy. The guide was created in partnership with the Green Zionist Alliance.

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