The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released this week and the media acts surprised by the dire warnings, blaring that the red alerts and apocalyptic alarms are sounding. They did until Governor Cuomo resigned the next day over sexual harassment allegations, and the media focus shifted away. None of this should surprise you, because first, the IPCC is old news if you have followed authoritative climate news websites and second, because the mainstream media outlets find climate change less than invigorating for advert sales. The fall of a powerful pol over sexual allegations – that sells ads.
When the news purveyors in our society cannot rise to engage the escalating climate calamity, preferring lewdness and greed, the Jewish voice becomes the power to move the crisis to the fore. When good people turn away in disgust and despair, the religious impulse must sound loudly. The Climate Crisis Policy national coalition built the faith cohort as one of the six cohorts from the beginning. We present unique and necessary roles that the other cohorts cannot offer. One of those roles is bringing attention back to the climate crisis as a moral necessity: Life is sacred.
Mindful of our roles in the organizing and advocacy efforts, the IPCC report is a new, powerful tool we can use immediately. These are a few of the sobering facts we need to repeat to our allies and potential allies in elected offices:
- Major changes in climate are now irreversible.
- The atmosphere and the oceans are hotter than they’ve been in 125,000 years. (Homo Sapiens have only been around 40,000 years, by the way.)
- We have passed the tipping point.
- The earth is warming faster than most scientists previously thought.
- The once-in-50-year heat waves now happen every 10 years or less.
- We will hit a rise in ambient temperature of 1.50C by 2040.
- Seas will continue to rise, and the Greenland ice shelves are not salvageable.
- There is no “going back to normal” possible any longer.
The second message we as religious people need to bring to our politicians of all political stripes is they should be nervous. The old paradigm was the politician who asked when will these climate problems would come to roost and was told by the year 2050, the politician would reply, “talk to me in 2049.” The year is 2021 and the extreme effects of climate change are happening now. There is no time left to hide behind partisan ideology.
There is no time left to accede to the wishes of the fossil fuel industry, the corporate agriculture industry, or the industrial chemical industry either. They have proven at every opportunity they are unwilling to cooperate, and they are willing to engage in deception and misdirection with all entreaties. They have chosen the stance of no compromise. The planet has chosen otherwise.
We must convey hope to communities and to our politicians. The IPCC report makes clear we still have the capability to retard climate change by reducing our carbon footprint. We can still hit our target of reducing our emissions to a much slower rise of 1.50C by 2100. We can avoid catastrophe if our politicians act now.
Our sacred task now is banging on legislator’s doors (real and virtual), hitting the texting app, hounding our politicians on the Op-Ed pages, and convincing like-minded people to join us in doing much the same.
We can do this; we must do this. We shall do this.