I have lived in New York City for 36 years, and I have never experienced anything like this. Though wildfire smoke has become a sadly familiar occurrence in the Western U.S. and other parts of the world, it is a new experience here in New York. I am catching my breath – literally and figuratively.
In Psalm 150, we recite kol haneshema tehallel Ya – roughly translated: Everything that breathes sings praise to its Source. Life depends on our ability to breathe, and nothing makes us feel that more keenly than when the places we live are enveloped in hazardous smoke from climate fires. This is what the climate crisis looks and feels like.
If you are in an area affected by the smoke, please take care of your lungs. As we know, the climate crisis affects the poorest and historically marginalized first and worst, and it affects all of us. Experts recommend limiting time spent outdoors, using an air purifier indoors, and wearing a good mask if you do go outside. This is especially important for those who have asthma or other respiratory issues.
Smoke like this can be scary. In addition to health concerns, the reality of the climate crisis can land with new weight. We know that extracting, burning, and refining fossil fuels has increased the frequency and intensity of forest fires like this one. If we continue to extract and burn fossil fuels, these conditions will only get worse. Period. Full stop.
This is why we organize.
To make sure days like these are few and far between. To make sure we address the climate crisis at the scale that science and justice demand. To make sure we hold the fossil fuel executives and politicians who do their bidding accountable.
This week, stay safe. Make sure your community is okay. Then talk to your friends and family to help them understand that the smoke they are experiencing is part of the climate crisis, and it is scary, yes, but we aren’t helpless to do something about it.
Let’s make days like these as rare as possible, so we can all breathe freely.
About the Author:
Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Founder and CEO, Dayenu
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