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Mitzvah Moments - October 2015 - Tish Levee


Mitzvah Moments - October 2015 - Tish Levee

by Tish Levee

A Year After the Climate March...

What a year it’s been since over 700,000 people (400,000 of them marching in New York City--I was one) mobilized to say it's time to do something real about climate change. All of us who took part in the People's Climate March had great hopes for this convergence of people around the world, but I don't think any of us even began to see what this last year would bring.

Well, it’s definitely brought more and more extreme weather and climate disruption--witness the fires across Alaska, the Northwest, and here in California.Once again, this is the hottest year on record. Last winter the Sierra snowpack was at a 500-year record low. A super El Niño, "a Godzilla Niño," is heating up in the Pacific, but it may not bring drought relief to Northern California, only flooding and mudslides. We’re seeing all sorts of weather extremes around the world; all the predictions are that it ‘s only going to get worse.

At the same time, it seems as if, in some ways, there’s been a massive shift regarding the need to take real action NOW to arrest the increasing problems that our way of life, driven by fossil fuel consumption, have created. Positive steps are being taking in many countries and US states; several of them have ramped up their renewable energy goals, and many have pledged to be totally fossil fuel free by 2050, if not sooner. Over 440 foundations, cities, pension funds, and etc., have divested from $2.6 Trillion in fossil fuels, joined most recently by Leonard diCaprio ‘s foundation. At the recent Emmy awards nearly everyone wore green ribbons stamped with #DemandClimateAction.
I marched in NYC with last year with Green Faith--10,000 people from many faiths-- Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Bahia, Christians, and many more. Now faith leaders are stepping forth to say that climate change isn’t just a political issue, it’s a MORAL issue. While climate change will affect everyone, it will most heavily affect those who’re most vulnerable, especially the poor.

As I write this Pope Francis is addressing the US Congress, where he is speaking about climate change and the moral imperative we have to deal with it. Earlier this year his encyclical, Laudato Si', The Care of Our Common Home, addressed not only Roman Catholics, but also the world with the need to take action. Highly readable, this encyclical clearly states that we must change our course. In May, 337 rabbis from various Jewish denominations issued a letter in the same vein, as did Muslim teachers and clergy recently. Several Evangelical Christian leaders have addressed this issue, as have many mainline Protestant denominations. Buddhist leaders, especially the Dalai Lama, have been making proclamations about the need to change the way we are living on OUR planet, as it's the only one we have.

Meanwhile, political leaders, most recently President Obama, have been stepping forth to declare the need to do something NOW. Not all of their messages have been as unequivocal as they could be; we really need to make sure that all world leaders are onboard with this by the time they meet in Paris on November 30th for the next Climate Summit, COP21.

These talks are less than two months away; it is imperative that we do all we can to influence our world’s leaders, so that they (and we) come away from Paris with a much better game plan than the one from Copenhagen in 2009.
It’s clear that leaders are impressed and motivated by bodies--bodies of people coming together to create grassroots movements such as last year's Climate March. Now we have a chance to do that again, just one day before the Paris talks begin. On Sunday, November 29th, there will be Climate Marches in Paris and all around the world. As with the Climate March last year, and are organizing the event (last year's march was organized online and via Social Media in less than five months!). Check out their websites for more information.