In the wake of Hyper-Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, it may be especially appropriate to address the tradition that Rosh Hashanah is Hayom Harat Olam -- “Today is the Birthday of the World.” Or as some say, the day of the birthing of adam (humanity) from adamah (earth). (Gen 2: 7).
For those who don’t include Rosh Hashanah in their celebrations, it is still noteworthy that the Biblical tradition teaches that the interwoven relationship between adam and adamah is the central sacred aspect of our relationship with YyyyHhhhWwwHhhhh -– the Interbreathing Spirit of the world. That relationship is intimately connected with eco-social justice.
The sacred Interbreathing of CO2 and Oxygen between animals and vegetation is now so overheated by our burning fossil fuels that it becomes not only the Wind of Change but Hyper-Hurricanes of destruction.
Leviticus 25 calls on us to create a rhythm of work and restfulness with the earth, and Leviticus 26 warns that if we don’t, the result will be great storms, floods, droughts, famines, plagues of disease, and mass refugee disturbances.
This spiritual wisdom was rooted in the practical experience of farmers and shepherds.
Today we can draw not only on that ancient indigenous practical experience but on modern science and on the new practical experience of dreadful disasters. Today we see that because we have refused to let the Earth rest from our poisoning the atmosphere with too much CO2 and methane, all the disasters of Leviticus 26 are coming upon us.
What can we do?
Organize a Neighborhood Solar Co-op. We can act on our own, making a real chemical difference to the earth and our neighborhoods, and a growing political difference in our country. Gather a group of friends, neighbors, congregants to explore what it means to create a Neighborhood Solar Co-op (or Wind Co-op, if that is more practical on your terrain). Begin by looking at two websites:
A nation-wide network of neighborhood-based solar-energy co-ops groups. It can help with advice and support.
NPSC (Northwest Philly Solar Co-op, pronounced Knapsack) is a group in Northwest Philadelphia inspired and sparked by The Shalom Center. It has grown as an independent body and is now serving several dozen households, with more to come. It could be a useful model for your own congregation or your neighborhood.
Call a public meeting for all who want to explore the possibility of a solar co-op to hear speakers and ask questions. Begin your co-op with those who attend and then say “Yes!”
2. Support the OFF Act -- Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act (HR 3671), which would transition our country to 100% renewable energy by 2035. It has been introduced by seven members of Congress -- Tulsi Gabbard (HI), Nanette Barragan (CA), Barbara Lee (CA), Ted Lieu (CA), Jamie Raskin (MD), Keith Ellison (MN) and Jan Schakowsky (IL).
The OFF Act requires 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 (and 80 percent by 2027), places a moratorium on new fossil fuel projects, bans the export of oil and gas, and also moves our automobile and rail systems to 100 percent renewable energy. It provides for a truly just transition for environmental justice communities and those working in the fossil fuel industry.
The bill requires that people in impacted communities have a leading role in the development and implementation of clean energy plans and regulations, and establishes an equitable transition fund and workforce development center, paid for by closing an offshore tax loophole and repealing federal tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry.
Please call 202-224-3121, ask for your Member of the House of Representatives, and ask your Member to co-sponsor the OFF Bill, HR 3671. Say something about your reasons -- religious, ethical, your grandchildren, your horror at the devastation wrought by Harvey and Irma and the Bangla Desh floods and the terrible droughts and famines in central Africa.
Ask your congregation or its social-action committee to join in this effort and hold public forums to support the OFF Act.
3. Explore “Climate Restoration.” Some scientists are now proposing to go even beyond OFF Fossil Fuels to “Climate Restoration.” That means withdrawing a trillion tons of carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere, so that our children and grandchildren can take joy and sustenance from a climate as life-giving as that which sustained our parents and grandparents, with a level of eco-social justice that many of our forebears did not experience.
Why undertake this effort? Because even zero emissions by 2035 will leave so much CO2 and methane in the atmosphere that “unnatural disasters” will strike blow after blow at human civilization.
To begin discussion of Climate Restoration in your friendship group, neighborhood, or congregation, click to <http://www.healthyclimateproject.org/> and <https://www.climate-restoration-foundation.com/>. On this latter website, please learn from what is on there but do NOT write them; they have told me they are focused on working with scientists and are hoping to avoid being overwhelmed by incoming mail.
If you are celebrating the New Year, learning your way into these possibilities can be as deep and full a religious practice as hearing the Shofar.
Indeed, in our day these actions meet the very outcry that the Shofar calls to us-- that in this great crisis we “Awaken!” and “Transform!” our lives.
Blessings of shalom, salaam, peace, for Mother Earth, her human earthlings, and all her other life-forms -- Arthur