Write Your Senators: Support the Climate-Healing Bill

Write Your Senators: Support the Climate-Healing Bill

By Rabbi Arthur Waskow | 10/20/2009

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Photo of US Capitol framed by the Capitol Power Plant

Dear shalom-seekers,

We are at a great choice point for healing the planetary climate crisis — the most dangerous crisis in all human history, but one we can still heal.

Before I expain why and how, let me say right away that we have made it possible and easy for you to write your Senators to support climate-healing action. Click here to write your Senator.

And I also want to say right away that in accord with next Shabbat (October 23-24, the story of the Flood &Rainbow) having been proclaimed Climate Healing Shabbat, and in the light of calls for world-wide action on Oct. 24 by many environmental leaders, I hope you will urge your own synagogue, church, or masjid board or social action committee; your havurah, local chapter of the PTA or teachers union or AJCommittee or National Council of Jewish Women; your local Jewish or church newspaper, to take a stand urging strong climate-healing action by your Senators.

Why is it so important to act NOW?

Because the US Senate is now considering a major, flawed, but useful bill to heal our plant from global scorching.

And why is that so important?

Because the US contributes far more per capita to global scorching by our over-use of fossil fuels than any other country. So the first turning point will be getting the US government to define this as a great issue by passing a major bill, even if it has important flaws.

IF that happens, other major governments (outside Europe, which is well ahead) will have good reason to move as well, and the Copenhagen conference may point forward instead of bogging down in despair.

And if a major bill is passed, that COULD – it depends on us, the people – energize instead of lulling major public action by Americans. (The early civil rights bills and court actions in the 1950s were inadequate, but they encouraged widespread committed public action, and that in turn moved Congress to do much more.)

The US Senate now has before it a flawed but useful bill co-sponsored by Barbara Boxer of California and John Kerry of Massachusetts, with unexpected and important strong public support from Lindsey Graham, a Southern Republican — offered on some conditions. His support is important because it may well open the way for other Republicans, who will be necessary to reach the 60 required votes.

In the view of one of the wisest and most knowledgeable analysts of Congresssional enviro policy, David Roberts of Grist on-line enviro magazine, there is now reason for cautious optimism about the Senate’s passing a bill. Roberts, though he views Graham’s conditions as odious (allowing but not mandating off-shore oil drilling and nuclear power) thinks they will have little actual ecological down-sides because few companies expect to make money from drilling or nukes, whereas the finances of wind and solar energy are much more attractive.

For David Roberts’ full analysis of “Seven Reasons for Optimism about the Senate Bill,” for our own “Seven Principles for Jewish & Interfaith Action on Climate Policy,” and items on prayer, model sermon materials, songs, and stories for use on Shabbat Noah, see our section on Shabbat Noah at –

I don’t want to blind-side you, our faithful Shalom Center members, readers, supporters, and activists. There are many environmental activists – and we agree! — who think the crisis requires much more vigorous action than is set forth in the Kerry-Boxer bill and its House-passed counterpart, the watered-down Waxman-Markey bill. (Interesting that in each House there is one Jewish co-sponsor from California and one Christian from Massachusetts.)

Some of these critics even oppose these bills. They seem to think that if the bills pass, the public will relax; that if they fail, there will be massive demands for much more radical action. My own experience both as an insider on Capitol Hill and as a street activist outsider leads me to a different sense – that utter Congressional failure will lead to despair, but half-success will lead to public action, action to more success, more success to more action, and then to even more effective law.

So I urge you, our members, readers, and activists, to act NOW, especially using the momentum of the Shabbat of Noah (October 24) and its proclamation as Climate Healing Shabbat — to work hard for the Senate bill.

I urge you to write this week to your Senators to urge them to support the Kerry-Boxer bill, and to keep it strong.

Click here to find a model letter and an easy way to fax your Senators I hope you will add your own words.

And I hope you will follow up by getting your own clubs, organizations, newspapers, and friends to take a stand supporting the bill and letting your Senators know. You could do this easily just by forwarding this letter to your friends, co-workers, and key local leaders.

With blessings of shalom, salaam, peace! —
— Arthur

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