January 3, 2008
What would Noah do?
(Page 3 - Previous Page)The film cites a report titled, "Livestock's Long Shadow" -- released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in November 2006 -- that revealed, according to Schwartz, that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gasses in carbon dioxide equivalents than all the world's cars, trucks and other forms of transportation.
Still, some do not believe that global warming is a reality, let alone a man-made phenomenon, though the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released in November 2007 states: "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level."
Temple Emanuel member Robert Schwartz is one of those skeptical of global warming. He calls it "this pseudo-religion for the secular community" and worries that it will have disastrous consequences for some of the planet's least fortunate citizens who will be unable to pull themselves out of a subsistence economy without traditional energy resources.
He also believes global warming has been so politicized that it can no longer be handled in a truly scientific manner. As an example, he cites NASA's mathematical error of claiming 1998 the warmest year on record when it was actually 1934, and 2006 as the third warmest when it was 1921. NASA corrected the errors.
Still, Schwartz applauds Temple Emanuel's environmental efforts. "I am totally and passionately committed to saving energy and all un-renewable and even renewable resources," he said.
Others in the Jewish community wonder how much of a difference we can really make by diligently toting our reusable bags to the grocery store, installing compact fluorescent lightbulbs in our homes and turning off our computers at night. Will these actions even make a dent when, according to a Dec. 16, 2007, article in The New York Times, China is building coal-burning plants at the rate of one a week? Are these efforts merely a nice thing to do?
"We think this is what we should be doing," Board of Rabbis Executive Vice President Mark Diamond told the participants at the October Green Congregations Best Practices Summit.
He quoted a midrash on creation (Midrash Rabba 3:1) that he believes best explains the Jews' responsibility to the earth:
"When God created the first human beings, God led them around the Garden of Eden and said: 'Look at My works! See how beautiful they are, how excellent. For your sake I created them all. Take care not to spoil or destroy My world, for if you do, there will no one to repair it after you.'"
Follow the 10-year journey of the construction and completion of Congregation Beth David's new eco-friendly syngogue in San Luis Obispo