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Mitzvah Moments by Tish Levee - December 2016


Mitzvah Moments by Tish Levee - December 2016

by Tish Levee

After the election—before the flood.

Like many of us, I’m reeling from the results of Tuesday’s election; I’m deeply concerned about the state of the planet and the challenges of ongoing climate change. (There’re many other issues for which this election portends disastrous results, but climate is still my most important concern, because if we don’t get this issue right, everything else will be moot.)

We’ll soon have a president who’s said climate change is a hoax; who’s promised to rescind our part in the Paris Climate Agreement; and to get rid of the Clean Power Plan and possibly the EPA. He’s appointed a major climate skeptic and denier, Myron Ebell, to head his EPA transition team. Nearly 50,000 people have signed a petition on “We the People,” the White House’s site, asking that Ebell not be allowed to lead the EPA transition team; it needs another 52,919 by Dec. 9th to be considered by President Obama. Sign at

It keeps getting hotter and hotter! 

This July and August were the warmest on record, and NASA predicts that 2016 will be the hottest year since we starting keeping records in 1880. Unfortunately, the climate skeptics believe that what we’re experiencing is just normal fluctuation. Mr. Trump told Vanity Fair in 2007, “There has been a little bit of warming ... but it’s been very modest and well within the range for natural variability, and whether it’s caused by human beings or not, it’s nothing to worry about.”

COP21, the Paris Agreement last December, is a good first step, aimed to keep the rise in global temperature to well below 2º C (3.6º F) and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. This isn’t going to be easy, but it is possible. 

But we can’t wait, we need to start NOW and do even more than we have. Eleven of the last 12 consecutive months set heat records; 2016 is following two record-breaking years. These are land temperatures, but the oceans’ temperature is rising too. While it is almost certain that 2017 will be cooler than 2016, the oceans won’t lose their heat quickly.

New meaning for France’s Louis XV’s statement,
“Après moi le déluge.” 

After this election, if we don’t all come together and stand up for the planet, we will see the flood – the deluge! As the seas heat up, the water in them expands, and it will take a long time for the heat in our oceans to dissipate, possibly hundreds of years. This sea-level rise is already affecting many low lying islands and sea-coasts, and it will continue to do so. 

For every degree Celsius (1.8ºF) the Earth’s surface warms, sea levels rise an average of 7.5 ft. You can see what this might mean for you and others around the globe at 

A new movie, (live-streamed online), Before the Flood, looks at how climate change affects our environment and how we can prevent the loss of endangered species, ecosystems, and native communities worldwide. Also check out Years of Living Dangerously. The first episodes aired in 2014; season two started 11/16 on the National Geographic Channel. The Executive Producer, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, recently said that if we “really want to make a difference, everyone has to work together... Democrats, Republicans, every country, the military, everybody.”

That is just what we have to do…we don’t have time to waste in recriminations. Instead we have to work together with anyone who will work with us to keep fossil fuel in the ground, divest from fossil fuel, and encourage the growth of renewable energy.

Some good news this election! 

Proposition 67 passed, giving California the first state-wide ban on single use plastic bags in the nation. All the fishes in the deep blue sea, thank us!

This month’s website is 

Founded in 2008 by Bill McKibben (see my article about his Sonoma County appearance elsewhere in the Gazette), has been extremely effective at mobilizing large numbers of people worldwide to stand up for the climate. To get involved locally, go to

© Copyright Tish Levee, 2016