There is increasing evidence that the world is rapidly heading toward a climate catastrophe. An exaggeration? Please consider: 2017 was the third warmest year since temperature records were kept in 1880 and this follows three consecutive years of worldwide temperature records, In 2017 there were three category 3 or 4 hurricanes, three extreme wildfires in California, followed by a major mudslide there,and other severe climate events in many of the world’s areas. Climate experts are predicting even more severe climate events as temperatures keep rising.
Points that illustrate the extreme seriousness of climate threats are below in a statement on the climate crisis that I hope you will consider signing.
Because of the urgency of the situation I am working to help two very dedicated groups, the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD), directed by Rabbi Dr. Yonatan Neril, and the Arava Institute, directed by David Lehrer, to set up a major two-day ‘Interfaith Climate Change Conference’ in Jerusalem soon that would strive to increase awareness of the seriousness of the threats, the urgency of addressing them, and how the application of Jewish environmental teachings can help reduce climate and other environmental threats and help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path.
Here is a link to extensive information about the proposed climate chNGE conference, including a need statement, conference information, goals of the conference, the proposed schedule, information about the two conference organisers, and contact information:
Carrying out such a conference can be a much-needed game changer at this critical time. But it can only succeed if it has widespread support and is properly funded. Here are some ways you might help:
Please let me know about potential funding sources.
2. Please consider making a tax deductible donation to the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development by clicking on the following link: http://www.interfaithsustain.com/donate/ .
3. Related to a previous climate event organised by ICSD, 43 Israeli Orthodox Rabbis signed a statement about climate threats and the need to quickly address them. The statement is below. We would like to expand that list and also add additional lists of Israeli female scholars and Torah teachers, Israeli Masorti rabbis, Israeli Reform rabbis, Israeli politicians, and other influential Israelis. If you belong to any of these groups and are willing to sign the statement, please let me know and also submit a one line description to be placed after your name, for identification purposes only..
4. Please let me know of others I should contact about this initiative or pass this message on to them.
Below is the statement that the 43 (so far) Israeli Orthodox rabbis signed. If you belong to any of the categories mentioned above and wish to add your name as a signer, please let me know, along with a one sentence description, for identification purposes only.
STATEMENT ON THE CLIMATE CRISIS
“In the hour when the Holy One, blessed be He, created the first man, he took him and let him pass before all the trees in the Garden of Eden and said to him: “See my works, how fine and excellent they are. Now all that I created I created for your benefit. Think upon this and do not corrupt or destroy my world. For if you destroy it, there is no one to restore it after you.” (Midrash: Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:28)
Today, 97% of climate scientists and all the major science academies worldwide– an overwhelming consensus– state that climate change is occurring, is primarily caused by human activities, and must be addressed immediately in order for life on earth to continue to survive and thrive. Their conclusion is reinforced by many facts on the ground:
• Every decade since the 1970s has been warmer than the previous decade and all of the 18 warmest years since temperature records were kept in 1880 have been since 1998. 2014. 2015, and 2016 successively broke worldwide temperature records.
• Polar icecaps and glaciers worldwide have been melting rapidly, faster than scientific projections. This has caused an increase in elevation in oceans worldwide with the potential for major flooding.
• There has been an increase in the number and severity of droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods.
• Many climates experts believe that we are close to a tipping point due to positive feedback loops, when climate change will spiral out of control, with disastrous consequences, unless major positive changes soon occur. A just released report in the respected science publication Nature, signed by over 60 leading climate scientists, warned that failing to start to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 would likely result in increasingly severe climate events.
• While many climate scientists think that 350 parts per million (ppm) of atmospheric CO2 is a threshold value for climate stability, the world reached 400 ppm in 2014, and the amount is increasing by 2 – 3 ppm per year.
• While climate scientists hope that temperature increases can be limited to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), largely because that is the best that can be hoped for with current trends and momentum, the world is now on track for an increase of 4 – 6 degrees Celsius, which would result in major threats to human civilization.
• The Pentagon and other military groups think that climate change will increase the potential for instability, terrorism, and war by reducing access to food and clean water and by causing tens of millions of desperate refugees to flee from droughts, wildfire, floods, storms, and other effects of climate change.
In light of the above and more, we believe that Jewish teachings mandate that we do everything possible to help avert a climate catastrophe and other environmental disasters and to help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path. Here are just two of these teachings:
Genesis 2:15 indicates that the human role is to work the land but also to guard and preserve it: “The Lord God took the human being, and He placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and guard it.”
“Who is the wise person? The one who considers the future consequences of his or her actions.” (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Tamid 32a)
Based on these and other Jewish teachings, we believe Jews should be on the forefront of efforts to help avert a climate catastrophe. Making this even more important is that Israel is especially threatened by climate change. The Middle East is a very hot, dry area and projections are that it will become hotter and dryer, making instability, violence, terrorism, and war more likely. Also, much of Israel’s population and infrastructure are threatened by a rising Mediterranean Sea inundating Israel’s coastal plain.
Reducing climate change must be a central focus of Jewish life today. We strongly recommend that our fellow rabbis, Jewish educators, and other Jewish leaders, and our synagogues, Jewish schools, and other Jewish individuals and organizations take major steps to increase awareness of climate threats and steps that must be taken to reduce them. We urge the Israeli government to shift from its widespread use of fossil fuels to a far greater emphasis on renewable sources of energy like solar and wind, and we urge the Knesset (Israeli parliament) to prioritize legislation that reduces greenhouse gas emissions.