Toxic Denial of Climate Change Reality as Planet Hangs in the Balance

Science Is Settled — Politics Blocks Meaningful Action

getty images

By J.J. Goldberg

Published February 09, 2014, issue of February 14, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Environmentalists sometimes accuse conservatives of turning a blind eye to the extreme weather battering the country lately, because of disagreements over global warming.

That’s unfair. Despite political squabbling, some bold initiatives are emerging. On February 1, seeking to end the crippling drought that’s produced federal disaster areas in 11 Western states, faith leaders from across the religious spectrum, including imams, rabbis and Buddhist priests, met in a Mormon church outside Reno, Nevada, and prayed for rain. Like I said, bold action.

The following day, the Utah Farm Bureau Federation called for public fasting and prayer for rain. “We decided to go to the guy upstairs,” Utah dairy farmer Ron Gibson told the Deseret News.

That might sound like a long shot, but you never know. On January 11, Morocco’s King Mohammed V asked his country’s Jewish community to help fight drought by praying for rain, a day after the nation’s mosques did so. On January 17, MoroccoWorldNews.com reported thundershowers across the country’s south.

In Israel, suffering its driest winter on record, the country’s chief rabbis issued a call December 4 for daily recital of the traditional Simhat Torah prayer for rain. A week later the country was brought to a standstill by the heaviest snowstorm in at least a half-century. The chief rabbis quickly told the public to stop praying for rain and commence prayers of thanksgiving.

The drought promptly returned, but still.

Prayers aren’t the right’s only response. House Republicans introduced an emergency bill February 4 to suspend environmental regulations in California in order to divert water from the protected Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the agriculturally and politically crucial Central Valley. The bill is opposed by California Democrats and will likely die in the Senate. Republicans are frustrated.

“If you don’t like the bill we send, then tell us what you do support,” House majority whip Kevin McCarthy, from Bakersfield in the Central Valley, told a February 4 press conference.

Actually, that’s easy. There are reasons for the drought. Democrats want to fix them. Republicans don’t.

Bakersfield, Tel Aviv and Casablanca have something in common that helps explain the shared drought. They all sit on the west coast of a major continental land mass, all at roughly the same latitude, all in what’s called a Mediterranean climate zone.

And lately, they’re all on the wrong side of that pesky bulge in the Polar Jet Stream that’s wreaking havoc across the northern hemisphere, bringing frigid temperatures to most of the United States, weeks of monster rain and flooding in Britain and historic snowstorms across central Asia from Iran to Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.