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Mitzvah Moments - September 2015


Mitzvah Moments - September 2015

by Tish Levee

Not just the hottest month on record...

July was again the hottest month on record—since 1880, but virtually all authorities now cite this July as the warmest in at least 11,000 years, and according to some, the hottest month in over a hundred thousand years! 

Not only is the air hotter, but so is the ocean, which means the possibility of a massive El Niño is increasingly likely. Sounds like that could be good news, but El Niño years are hotter than usual; that hotter weather may mean continued drought. 

The West is burning up! 

More than seven million acres of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and California—an area the size of Massachusetts—have burned in more than 160 fires, 100 of them in California. Fire season now starts 2 ½ months earlier than it did a few decades ago. Over 30,000 fire fighters from many states, on duty military, and firefighters from Australia, are battling the blazes, and the smoke can be seen from space. With all this land burned over, heavy rains this winter could just run off, causing massive flooding and landslides, and not necessarily relieving the drought all that much. 

The Good News: Spiritual leaders are speaking up for the Earth.

In June, Pope Francis issued his encyclical, Laudato Sí; earlier more than 340 American rabbis signed a Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis. In August prominent Islamic teachers and scholars issued a clarion call to 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide urging the phasing out of fossil fuels and developing 100% renewable energy by 2050. The statement makes several d political demands to increase pressure on oil-producing Gulf States ahead of the UN Summit in Paris in December. has more information. To see other faiths’ stances on climate change, check out Interfaith Power and Light’s site at Pope Francis also declared September 1 as a day of prayer for the Earth and the climate—inviting non-Catholics to join in.

More good news!

• Renewable sources such as wind and solar power have now overtaken natural gas as the second largest source of electricity, with coal, the worst possible choice, still in first place. However, the price of renewables keeps dropping, and coal is going to have difficulty competing as new regulations such as the President Obama’s Clean Power Plan take place. 

• Fossil fuels divestment is becoming economically attractive. California’s pension plans lost $5 billion last year on their fossil fuel investments. Plunging prices are also making extracting oil from tar sands and fracking less and less attractive.

5 Things you can do right now to make a difference!

• Push for a fossil-free planet. Keep it in the ground—find out more at 

• Plant a tree. Don’t have room or enough water? Go to to plant 10 fruit trees in developing countries for $10.

• Eat organic and local food. Support local farmers and reduce transportation costs.

• Reduce your food waste and compost what’s left.

• Choose more plant-based foods, go vegan at least once a week.

Other ways to take action...

Grandparents Climate Action Day is Sept.10th. Thousands will gather in D.C. to meet with members of Congress, calling for three key ways to respond to the climate crisis: Carbon Fee and Dividend legislation, to cut emissions and protect families from higher energy prices; strong support of the EPA Clean Power Plan, to cut CO2 emissions from existing power plants up to 70% of 2005 levels by 2030; and commitment to binding international agreements at the UN Paris Climate Conference in December. Be sure to sign the petition at if you can’t be there. 

Northern California Building Resilient Communities Oct 8-11th 2015 at the Solar Living Institute in Hopland. Learn from some of the extraordinary change-makers building resilience in diverse communities. Learn more and register at 

© Tish Levee, 2015