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Mitzvah Moments by Tish Levee - November 2016


Mitzvah Moments by Tish Levee - November 2016

by Tish Levee

Extreme weather and climate change.

Scientists believe climate change is behind the frequent and extreme climate events we’ve been seeing. The recent flooding in South Carolina, caused by Hurricane Matthew, eclipsed August’s Louisiana flooding – until then the worst US disaster since Hurricane Sandy. Because a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, climate change makes storms and floods worse.

Meanwhile climate change-driven drought and high temperatures are leaving California’s forests tinder dry and primed for out-of-control blazes, causing 2016 to be one of the state’s worst wildfire seasons.

Hurricane Matthew’s deadly aftermath—what you can do. 

Although the hurricane caused extensive damage and nearly 40 deaths in the five southern states, the devastation in the Caribbean, especially Haiti, was much worse. At least 1,000 people are dead and others face starvation as 90% of crops were destroyed; an outbreak of cholera could kill many thousands more. Haiti, the poorest nation in the Americas, is still recovering from the 2010 devastating earthquake. The best way to help – send money to organizations on the ground. See USA Today’s suggestions at

Sonoma County’s Alan Soule proves you can do it anywhere! 

He recently completed the 80-day Challenge, going around the the world in 80 days, driving an all electric car over 16,000 miles through 20 countries. His Team USA joined 12 other teams from North America, Asia, and Europe. The President of the North Bay Electric Auto Association, Soule did this to “show the world that electric cars can go anywhere. I just drove my electric car across Kazakhstan, and you are worried about getting to San Jose?”

The drought’s not over! 

California’s major reservoirs hold 69 percent more water than a year ago, the US Bureau of Reclamation announced Oct. 7th, but they’re still at only 41 percent of capacity, and regulators warned that drought conditions continue. While precipitation last year was above normal in many areas, one wet season can’t make up for several dry years, and we could be facing a sixth consecutive year of drought.

Meanwhile, during the hottest summer ever recorded, California’s water conservation decreased, as a recent new policy allowed most urban water districts to avoid mandatory cuts in water use. This summer California’s water use rose by 11 percent from 2015. All 23 large water agencies in the Sacramento region saw water use increase by even greater amounts. Fortunately, due to an ongoing commitment to water use efficiency, Sonoma County appears to be a bit better at conservation. But it will require vigilance on all our parts to make sure we have enough water even if next year is a dry one again. So, please don’t even think about replacing that dead lawn with new sod!

How to help NOW—take the “Last Straw Challenge.” 

According to the Ocean Conservancy, millions of plastic straws pollute our oceans, causing endangered animals to choke. On average Americans eat out four times a week, usually receiving one or two straws. If 25,00 of us don’t take straws, we can keep 5 million straws out of oceans and landfills each year. Pledge to ask your server to hold the straw at

And Vote for the Climate! 

If we really care about the planet, we must vote on Nov. 8th, and we must Vote for the Climate. In the last presidential election, over 10 million environmentalists didn’t vote; in 2014 nearly 16 million environmentalists didn’t vote.

Whether or not you think the presidential election is already decided, please vote. There’re other candidates on the ballot, and many propositions, including two that directly affect the environment, Propositions 65 & 67 – the plastic bag ordinances. Vote YES on 67 and NO on 65. See my October column for why and more information on these propositions at

This month’s website. 

Moms Clean Air Force, a special project of the Environmental Defense Fund, is a community of moms and dads who’ve united against air pollution – including climate change – to protect our children’s health. Online resources,including finding school supplies that don’t make kids sick, articles, action tools, and on-the-ground events are all at


©Copyright Tish Levee, 2016