Thinking Climate in Winter

December 9, 2014
It’s easy to talk about global warming when it’s sweltering hot outside and everyone is sweating during the summer, especially in a summer like 2014, which was the hottest ever on record. Once we’re all bundled up in gloves and scarves, drinking hot tea, it’s a little harder to be heard when you’re talking about how global temperatures and rising quickly and dangerously. Just because it’s seasonally colder out doesn’t mean that climate change is less of a global disaster. In fact, the year 2014 overall is shaping up to be not only the hottest summer, but the hottest year on record. The disparity between “global warming” and the cooling that we see during the winter has a simple, but often overlooked explanation. First, global warming is an average and doesn’t preclude some cold days; global warming is a trend, meaning that there are fewer cold days and the remaining cold days are less cold. Second, the temperature we feel isn’t entirely reflective of atmospheric changes. Scientists predict that if we do nothing to mitigate the effects of climate change, the global temperate will rise by 2-5 °C before 2100. In every day terms, that difference is fairly minimal, but on a global, atmospheric scale, the consequences of a rise even on the conservative side of the estimate (3 °C), would have a catastrophic effect on the earth and the way we live our lives. So while it’s easy to ignore climate change and global warming in the winter, don’t let the snow fool you. Remember that, as Reform Jews, caring for our families and passing on our tradition, l’dor v’dor, are central elements of our faith. The Jewish voice on climate change cannot be a break from that core value, but instead must be an affirmation of it. Take action to let our world leaders know that a strong international commitment to curb climate change is important to you by signing the Faithful Call to Address Climate Change. You can also directly effect change in your community: help your congregation do an energy audit and increase their energy efficiency through the GreenFaith Energy Shield program and incorporate environmental prayers and programming about conserving our resources into your Hanukkah celebration.

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