Saturday, June 14, 2008

Calling All Voices

"For the Jewish community to make a difference on environmental issues, we need brutal honesty to begin with. Jews are now roughly 0.2% of the world’s population; less than the margin of error on the Indian census. If all the Jews in the world recycle their newspapers it will make… pretty much no difference whatsoever. Nor if we put a solar-powered ner tamid in every synagogue, nor, more radically, if every Jew in the world swapped their existing car for a hybrid."

-Nigel Savage, founder of Hazon. Click here for the full article.

"Our home planet Earth is undergoing rapid and sustained destruction of its eco-systems... Muslims comprise at least one fifth of the human community and they can contribute much to the thinking that is vital to re-evaluate the future direction of the human community and save its home for itself and other life forms."

- The Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES)

What a difference one fifth of the world could make!

And us Jews? We sure are a little nation, but as history tells us, we have tremendous power to inspire ethical behavior, mobilize social change and spearhead the technology with which to bring that change about.

If our species is to control the ecological crises that we face today, then we'd best focus where we each can help, and filter out where we cannot.

I recently led a session at Green Up Your Campus, a program of Derech Hateva/Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel for gap-year students in Israel beginning college next year, on Sustainability's "Three R's," Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

To introduce the discussion, each member of the group was to list one area of "green" living that they did not want to incorporate into their personal lives, or something they'd much rather not give up in the name of fixing the world.

I spoke about loving new books. The smell, their look on home's bookshelf, the crispness of new book covers. One girl mentioned long showers. Someone else said he could never give up on driving.

And then we began to analyze: If I really love new books, maybe I can lend them to someone who doesn't. Perhaps even to the guy who loves driving. And he can give me rides, because I don't care that much about driving. The long showers girl can be ultra-conservative with water when she washes dishes. Or she can engage in something of a Kyoto Protocol on Hygiene- trading "Shower-water" credits with friends.

Common sense might imply that the more we negate our "Footprint" on the world the better off the world will be. But "Ecology" tells us about ecosystems-relationships between species, many to most of which we are a part. And as any good relationship goes, all sides must contribute of themselves- of what makes them individual- in order for the whole to thrive.

At Jewish Climate Initiative (JCI), we are working to develop the Jewish voice- to channel our collective passion and individual ingenuities to impact our fellow humans, to view our climate of change as an opportunity that begs us to live in a conscious harmony with the universe, its creations and resources.

We invite you to visit us at and learn more. The whole climate change thing is pretty terrifying- but we're an optimistic People, and do not believe we're given challenges we cannot handle. And if we tackle this one creatively and with a hopeful spirit, it is going to a have a happy ending, and many proud and better people to show for it.

By Yannai Kranzler

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