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Notes from a Small Planet: April 8th

Basia Yoffe
April 8, 2013
Africaby Basia Yoffe FOUR YEARS AGO this Memorial Day, I began to write a column about environmental activism, “Notes from a Small Planet,” for each edition of Jewish Currents magazine. Our climate change crisis warrants more attention than a quarterly column, however, so starting this week, I hope to blog about what's needed to be done to save our planet until either the job, or my contribution to it, is done. Readers will be informed about Jewish environmentalism, about what Jews are writing and saying about climate change, about scientists accused of being part of a 'Jewish Climate Change conspiracy,' about green endeavors in Israel, and about many non-Jews who are leading efforts to save the Earth, such as James Hansen and Bill McKibben. My blog will also contain occasional advice about surviving climate change on a physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual basis. I do not have all the answers, but I promise to find out much to share. In the Fall 2010 issue of JC, I wrote an article that reviewed James Hansen’s book, Storms of My Grandchildren (page 11 of this pdf). After Hurricane Sandy, I re-read that article, with a chilling feeling that we will be enduring chaotic weather in our very own generation. This quote from Hansen gave me pause: "Even without the chaos disintegrating ice sheets will bring, the strongest storms will become more powerful this century." JAMES HANSEN HAS HAD a pretty good track record on predicting climate trends over the last 25 years. Last week, he resigned from his job at NASA so that he would be free to sue the government. He plans lawsuits about the government's lack of enforcement of emissions regulations, and against the extracting, processing and shifting of oil from Canadian tar sands. Also last week, the New York Times ran a front-page picture of the dramatic recession of a Peruvian glacier in only thirty years. This issue has to be "front page" in our lives, as well. There is much we can do. For starters: pick a day of the week (just before shabes is a great time) to make a phone call to a politician about this issue. It makes a difference! Just one phone call a week. An acquaintance from the Reform Movement's Religious Action Center in Washington, DC recently told that he had asked a congressional staffer about a specific issue. The staffer replied that the phone had been ringing off the hook about that issue. "What constitutes 'ringing off the hook?'" my acquaintance asked. The staffer replied, "Oh, we must have received ten or eleven calls." There you have it. If everyone who reads this were to call Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas (501-324-6336) and let him know what you think about last week's Exxon/Mobil pipeline oil spill, who knows how that might affect the future of the Keystone XL Pipeline? Here are some other links with which to stay informed: At the Jewish Week, Mirile Goldsmith, a founder of Jews Against Fracking and an environmental psychologist, writes about oil and gas companies lobbying the Jewish community. She makes an excellent case against further investment in fossil fuels. At JTA, Sybil Sanchez and David Seidenberg, both members of the Green Hevra, also make an excellent case for renewable energy and phasing out fossil fuels. At the Forward, J.J. Goldberg makes a very persuasive case about the urgency of addressing climate change. At the anti-Semitic rightwing site, ZOG (that stands for "Zionist Occupied Government"), you can find an example of "Climate Change Hoax" theorizing. And Joe Romm, at, writes about the torment climate scientists have to endure. Basia Yoffe is a member of the Jewish Currents editorial board and an active campaigner against the greed and ignorance that is leading to climate change.