Why Are Jewish Leaders Joining Pope Francis in Climate Action?

Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Jersey City, Long Island and Tel Aviv – These are just a few of the cities projected to be submerged under water by 2070 if we maintain our current path. While these future threats are perhaps what motivate some, a few Jewish thinkers and Rabbis are motivated by the effect that climate change is having now. From severe droughts in Muslim majority regions to our own back yard (California), JJ Goldberg insists that the Pope’s climate encyclical is more than projected science, rather, it is a moral cry for people of all faiths to address the issues that are happening before us. To ignore the currently impacts of climate change would be to disregard thousands of years of divine wisdom.

Which may be why a group of Rabbis developed their own climate letter to echo the efforts of Pope Francis. Read more about the letter with Blessed Tomorrow.

Why Climate Change Is a Jewish Issue — and the Pope Is Right

J.J. Goldberg for Jewish Daily Forward 

It’s been strangely reassuring to watch Republican presidential candidates jump all over Pope Francis for his new encyclical letter on the environment. I’m comforted by the fact that he’s getting hit with pretty much the same criticisms I get when I write about climate in the Forward: What does this have to do with your job? Why do I have to hear about this from you? Why can’t you stop pretending you’re a scientist and talk about the stuff we pay you to talk about?

Not to compare myself to the pope or anything. For one thing, he’s got a lot more readers than I have. Also, he wears a white yarmulke and I wear a black one (no, not a knitted one — it’s a long story). That said, when he writes about the climate, he gets the likes of Jeb Bush sniping that “religion ought to be about making us better people,” not about “the political realm.” When I do it, I have readers asking me in aggrieved tones why it’s a Jewish issue. Rick Santorum wants to leave science to the scientists. Me, I’m supposed to stick to Israel, anti-Semitism and intermarriage.

Now, one might be tempted to ask the pope’s critics why he shouldn’t talk about climate science when they go around discussing obstetrics and gynecology, but that would be shooting fish in a barrel. Besides, anyone who’s actually read the encyclical can see that it isn’t exactly about climate science. It starts with climate and carbon emissions, but from there it goes into all the ills of consumerist, technology-driven society and the urgent need for humanity to find a new way of living in harmony with what he calls Sister Earth. The trouble is, by the time we get that sort of moral transformation going, Miami, Amsterdam and Mumbai will be underwater , along with large stretches of Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Jersey City and Long Island’s Five Towns, plus Nahariya, south Tel Aviv and parts of Ashkelon .

That list of locales is based on the conservative predictions for 2070, when the sea level is expected to have risen at least a half-meter, or 20 inches, given the current rate of west Antarctic ice melt. It doesn’t factor in recent findings about the beginnings of a catastrophic melt in the much larger east Antarctic ice sheet. That could raise sea levels as high as 11 feet in the next few centuries.

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