September 4, 2007

9/4/07 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

This update/Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Online Newsletter has the following items:

1. Shana Tova! Best Wishes For a Happy New Year

2. Will This Be the Year For a Breakthrough for Jewish Vegetarianism?

3. Article and Letter to the Editor Re Rosh Hashanah

4. Article in Forward Re Potential Improvements in Kapparot Ritual

5. Is Agribusiness Using Small Improvements in Animal Welfare To Thwart Major Changes?

6. NY Times Article on Dietary/Global Warming Connections

7. U.K. Climate Change Action Plan

8. Seeking New JVNA Logo/Suggestions Very Welcome

9. Planting Trees in Israel as Carbon Offsets

10. Challenging the Left on Global Warming

11. Civil Disobedience: A Way To Get Attention to Our Issues?

12. Can There Be a Meat-Eating Environmentalist?

13. Getting Vegetarianism Onto the Worldwatch Institute’s Agenda

14. Message from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) on Global Warming Denial

15. Religious Groups Increasingly Putting Environmental Concerns On Their Agenda

16. Severe California Heat Wave: Indicator of What Our Future Will Be Like?

17. Group Attempts To “Focus the Nation” Re Global Warming

[Materials in brackets like this [ ] within an article or forwarded message are my editorial notes/comments.]

Opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the JVNA, unless otherwise indicated, but may be presented to increase awareness and/or to encourage respectful dialogue. Also, material re conferences, retreats, forums, trips, and other events does not necessarily imply endorsement by JVNA or endorsement of the kashrut, Shabbat observances, or any other Jewish observances, but may be presented for informational purposes. Please use e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and web sites to get further information about any event that you are interested in. Also, JVNA does not necessarily agree with all positions of groups whose views are included or whose events are announced in this newsletter.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.



1. Shana Tova! Best Wishes For a Happy New Year

Wishing you all

a very healthy, happy,

uplifting and inspiring,

peaceful, environmentally sustainable,

humane and compassionate,

love-filled New Year.

Shanah Tovah U'metukah,

May it be a year of joy, fellowship, fulfillment, good health, growth, and wonderful, completely unexpected surprises -

and a year of peace for everyone.

Kesivah V'Chasimah Tovah.

As indicated previously, my article relating vegetarianism to Rosh Hashanah can be found in the festival section at Please feel free to forward the article (and the related article and letter in item #3 below) to others who might be interested and to use it as a basis of letters to editors and talking points. Thanks.

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2. Will This Be the Year For a Breakthrough for Jewish Vegetarianism?

In the coming year:


We plan to distribute the documentary widely and have it viewed by as many people as possible.

We are initiating a major campaign around the documentary to awaken people to the need to switch toward plant-based diets as an essential step in efforts to reduce global climate change.

We plan to hire a publicist to help get us interviewed on many radio and TV programs and in many publications. During these interviews, we plan to be very outspoken on the insanity of present conditions, the severity of the threats and the importance of dietary changes.

We plan to be increasingly aggressive in trying to get respectful dialogues/debates on “Should Jews Be Vegetarians?” and related issues.

In summary, we plan to do everything we can to get vegetarianism and related issues onto the Jewish and other agendas.

If you can help in any way as a volunteer, please let me know. That would be very helpful in increasing our effectiveness in what could be a very important year for JVNA, for klal Yisrael and the entire world. Many thanks.

Suggestions very welcome, as always.

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3. Article and Letter to the Editor Re Rosh Hashanah

[Comments/suggestions welcome. Thanks.]


Richard H. Schwartz

Rosh Hashanah reminds us of God's creation of the world. The “Ten Days of Repentance” from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur is a period to evaluate our deeds and to do teshuvah (repentance) for cases where we have missed the mark. Sukkot is a holiday in which we leave our fine houses and live in temporary shelters (sukkahs) to commemorate our ancestors journey in the wilderness. Hence, the upcoming weeks provide an excellent time to consider the state of the planet's environment and what we might do to make sure that the world is on a sustainable path.

When God created the world, He was able to say, "It is very good." (Genesis 1:31) Everything was in harmony as God had planned, the waters were clean, and the air was pure. But what must God think about the world today?

What must God think when the rain He provided to nourish our crops is often acid rain, due to the many chemicals emitted into the air by industries and automobiles; when the ozone layer He provided to protect all life on earth from the sun's radiation has been significantly diminished; when the abundance of species of plants and animals that He created are becoming extinct at such an alarming rate in tropical rain forests and other threatened habitats, before we have even been able to study and catalog many of them; when the abundant fertile soil He provided is quickly being depleted and eroded; when the climatic conditions that He designed to meet our needs are threatened by global warming?

An ancient rabbinic teaching has become all too relevant today:

In the hour when the Holy one, blessed be He,
created the first human being (Adam),
He took him and let him pass before all the trees of
the Garden of Eden and said to him:
"See my works, how fine and excellent they are!
All that I have created, for you have I created them.
Think upon this and do not corrupt and desolate My world,
For if you corrupt it, there is no one to set it right after you."
Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:28

Today their seem to be almost daily reports about record heat waves, severe droughts and major forest fires, the melting of glaciers and polar ice caps, an increase in the number and severity of hurricanes and other storms, and other effects of global warming. All of the above and much more has occurred due to a temperature increase in the past hundred years of a little more than one degree Fahrenheit. So, it is very frightening that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group composed of thousands of the leading climate scientists from many countries, has projected an average temperature increase of 3 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit in the next hundred years. Some leading climate experts, including James Hansen of NASA, have stated that global warming may reach a tipping point and spin out of control within a decade, with disastrous consequences, unless major changes soon occur.

All countries, including Israel, are threatened by global warming. A report by the Israel Union for Environmental Defense in 2007 indicates that global warming could cause a triple whammy, each and all of which would heighten tensions and suffering in and around Israel: (1) a rise in temperature of about 6 degrees Fahrenheit; (2) a significant increase in the Mediterranean Sea level, which would threaten the narrow coastal strip of land where 60% of Israel's population lives and where major infrastructure, such as ports and power plants, would be destroyed; and (3) a 20-30 percent decrease in rainfall, which would disrupt agricultural production and worsen the chronic water scarcity problem in Israel and the region. Making matters even worse, much of that rainfall would come in severe storms that would cause major flooding.

Fortunately, there are many Jewish teachings that can be applied to shift the earth to a sustainable path. Briefly, these include:
* Our mandate to be shomrei adamah (guardians of the earth), based on the admonition that we should “work the earth and guard it” (Genesis 2:15);
* the prohibition of bal tashchit, that we should not waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value (Deuteronomy 20:19. 20);
* the teaching that,"The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof" (Psalms 24:1), and that the assigned role of the Jewish people is to enhance the world as "partners of God in the work of creation." (Shabbat 10a);
* the ecological lessons related to the Shabbat, sabbatical, and jubilee cycles.

While there is increasing awareness of changes that must be made toi reduce global warming, there is one “inconvenient truth” that is generally being overlooked A 2006 UN Food and Agriculture Organization report indicated that animal-based agriculture contributes more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all of the cars, trucks and other forms of transportation worldwide (18% vs. 13.5%). What makes the situation far worse is that the same report projects that the number of farmed animals will double in the next 50 years. If that happens, increased greenhouse gas emissions from 'livestock' agriculture would negate the reductions from many other important changes, such as increasing automobile fuel efficiencies, switching to more efficient light bulbs, etc. Hence, a shift toward plant-based diets is an essential part of the response to global warming.

As co-workers with God, charged with the tasks of being a light unto the nations and accomplishing tikkun olam (healing and restoring the earth), it is essential that Jews take an active role in applying our eternal, sacred values in struggles to reduce global warming, pollution and the waste of natural resources. Based on the central Jewish mandates to work with God in preserving the earth, Jews must work with others for significant changes in society's economic and production systems, values, and life-styles. At the start of a new year, we can seek to reduce our environmental impact The fate of humanity and God's precious earth are at stake, and if we fail to act properly and in time, there may be “no one after us to set it right.”

Dear editor:

Rosh Hashanah reminds us of God’s creation of the world. Hence, it is an excellent time to consider the state of the planet’s environment and what we might do to make sure that the world is on a sustainable path.

When God created the world, He was able to say, "It is very good." (Genesis 1:31) Everything was in harmony as God had planned, the waters were clean, and the air was pure. But what must God think about the world today, when, for example, the rain He provided to nourish our crops is often acid rain, the ozone layer has been significantly diminished; species of plants and animals are becoming extinct at such an alarming rate, and the climatic conditions that He designed to meet our needs are threatened by global warming?

Fortunately, there are many Jewish teachings that can be applied to shift the earth to a sustainable path. Briefly, these include:
* our mandate to be shomrei adamah (guardians of the earth), based on the admonition that we should “work the earth and guard it” (Genesis 2:15);
* the prohibition of bal tashchit, that we should not waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value (Deuteronomy 20:19. 20);
* the teaching that,"The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof" (Psalms 24:1), and that the assigned role of the Jewish people is to enhance the world as "partners of God in the work of creation." (Shabbat 10a);
* the ecological lessons related to the shabbat, sabbatical, and jubilee cycles.

As co-workers with God, charged with the task of being a light unto the nations and accomplishing tikkun olam (healing and restoring the earth), it is essential that Jews take an active role in applying our eternal, sacred values in struggles to reduce global warming, pollution and the waste of natural resources. So at the start of a new year, we should seek to reduce our environmental impact by, for example, using recycled paper, eating less meat, driving our cars less and using more fuel efficient bulbs and other items. The fate of humanity and God’s precious earth are at stake.

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4. Article in Forward Re Potential Improvements in Kapparot Ritual

Orthodox Call on Sinners To Give Chickens a Fairer Shake

Nathaniel Popper | Wed. Aug 29, 2007

What happens when a ritual designed to remove sin might itself generate sin?

That was the thorny question asked by rabbis who met in Brooklyn earlier this month in preparation for this year’s High Holy Days. The ritual in question is kapparot, a practice generally performed during the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in which a live chicken is swung over one’s head in a gesture of transferring one’s sins of the past year onto the animal.

At the August 6 meeting in the synagogue of the Novominsker rebbe, more than a dozen religious heavyweights — including Rabbi Aryeh Kotler and Rabbi David Zwiebel — considered evidence that the chickens may have been mistreated in past ceremonies and acknowledged that the problem rose to a level that could violate rabbinic law.

After the conference, the rabbis collectively issued a call for members of the community to clean up the process during this year’s holiday season. The move was particularly notable because it came in response to complaints from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In recent years, the animal rights group has come to be viewed as an adversary to the Orthodox community, with PETA run-ins leading more often to the butting of heads than to conciliatory gestures.

“In general, I don’t think that PETA is taken very seriously in the Orthodox community, or in any civilized society,” said Rabbi Avi Shafran, spokesman for the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel of America. “But that doesn’t mean that they won’t on occasion bring up something that is worth being brought up.”

In an editorial, the Orthodox newspaper Hamodia wrote that “the lofty purpose for which the bird is slaughtered cannot in any way excuse improper handling or storage of the birds prior to shechitah,” using the Hebrew word for slaughter.

The kapparot ceremony is one of the more colorful elements of the High Holy Days but one of the most historically fraught. Maimonides and later Joseph Caro, author of the authoritative code of Jewish law, both claimed that kapparot had its roots in pagan ritual and should be abandoned by religious Jews. But Moses Isserles, the famed 16th-century talmudist from Krakow promoted the practice, as did many of the founders of Hasidic Jewish sects.

Today, many Modern Orthodox Jews swing money, instead of chickens, over their heads. But Hasidic Jews have retained the use of the live animals. Men are instructed to use roosters, which are grasped by their shoulder blades and rotated above the person’s head three times. Women use hens for the ritual (two if the practitioner is pregnant). The animal is then supposed to be slaughtered immediately after the ritual and donated to a poor family.

Given the number of chickens required for this ceremony, some in the Orthodox community said it is not surprising that problems have arisen.

“It’s the very public nature and the pandemonium of slaughtering so many birds at one shot that necessarily involves problems,” said Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union and one of the participants at the August 6 meeting.

In recent years there have been a number of visible confrontations over the practice. In 2006, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals discovered 700 chickens that had been left in a garage in Brooklyn and, in another instance, PETA filed a complaint with the ASPCA in upstate New York when it found a batch of similarly abandoned birds.

PETA’s letter this year was accompanied by a lengthy video from ceremonies in 2005 and 2006. Included are scenes of live chickens being stuffed into garbage bags and teenagers ripping the heads off of chickens, which would clearly render the chickens un-kosher.

“The risk of communicable avian diseases and bacterial contamination is alarming, and the inhumane treatment and mishandling of animals at every stage of the process must be prevented,” the letter said.

PETA is known for its public campaigns, including the release of footage from the nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouse. In this case, the organization did not release the letter to the public but instead sent it and the video to Thomas Frieden, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as well as a few sympathetic members of the ultra-Orthodox community, who raised the issue with rabbis. A spokesman for Frieden said the department had no comment on the issue.

Weinreb said that, at the August 6 meeting, “there was no criticism of PETA per se; there was a discussion of on what level they should respond.”

The next day, Hamodia ran its editorial, which called for an independent certifier to ensure that the animals are slaughtered according to kosher rules. A week later, Rabbi Gershom Tannenbaum devoted a column in Brooklyn’s Jewish Press to the subject. He wrote that the “inhumane treatment is clearly prohibited by the Torah” and mentioned a number of new measures, including the use of temporary shelters for the crates of chickens.

Bruce Friedrich, a vice president at PETA, said he has heard encouraging things from the organization’s contacts inside the ultra-Orthodox community about this year’s ceremony. There is, however, still the question of the ritual itself. Friedrich said that even if the animals are treated well before and after kapparot, the ceremony itself “should be abandoned for the same reason you wouldn’t take a cat and swing it over your head.”

He might have an unlikely ally in this effort. Tannenbaum, in his Jewish Press column, finished by noting that “using alternatives to chickens such as money to tzedakah, might be a desirable option. Even using a fish might be a good idea, if you can hold onto it!”

My posting after the article:

As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) and author of the book "Judaism and Vegetarianism," I am very happy about these recent developments. Kudos to all involved in these positive changes.

Since Jews are to be rachmanim b'nei rachmanim (compassionate children of compassionate ancestors) and the psalmist tells us that G-d's commpassion is over all His creatures why not, as mentioned in the article, perform the kapparot ritual with money, rather than by harming and killing chickens.

On a broader issue, are the distinguished rabbis who have made such wise decisions re kapparot willing to address the fact that animal-based diets and agriculture violate basic Jewish teachings re treating animals with compassion, preserving our health, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources and helping hungry people.

Are they, and the Jewish community, willing to consider that animal-centered diets are causing an epidemic of diseases in the Jewish community and other communities and that 'livestock' agriculture contributes significantly to global warming and other envionmental threats to all of humanity.

Why are Jewish leaders apparently unwilling to consider addressing the question: "Should Jews Be Vegetarians?"

For further information, please go to the JVNA web site and see my over 130 related articles at Thanks. Shabbat shalom.

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5. Is Agribusiness Using Small Improvements in Animal Welfare To Thwart Major Changes?

Dissident Voice: a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice

Hogwash! Or, How Animal Advocates Enable Corporate Spin

by Lee Hall / August 29th, 2007

It’s obvious now: Severe damage is caused by humanity’s penchant for treating the planet as our storehouse, and all living beings as our personal stock. As public awareness grows, companies sense a need to adjust. But they’ve managed, perversely, to use the need for change as a means to avoid it. Thus the rise of “greenwashing” — the appearance of cultivating ecological awareness in hopes of getting a higher profile for whatever they happen to be selling us.

Harrogate Spa, a bottled water company, says it will sell its water in lighter bottles to save plastic — avoiding the issue that we might reconsider our love for water in plastic altogether. Boeing is taking orders for what some call “green aircraft,” as though we could keep flying while the profit-driven aircraft industry solves, or at least ameliorates, the ecological damage.

Ranchers, too, are learning public relations techniques.

We know animal agribusiness plays a major role in global warming, and the resultant refugee emergencies and mass extinctions. Surely this means animal advocates are approaching their heyday as political leaders for our time. After all, who better suited to advise a concerned public on shifting our culture away from its current reliance on meat and dairy products?

Alas. Mainstream advocates aren’t taking the cue. On the contrary, they’ve made themselves a party to a new and ominous form of greenwashing. Allowing supposedly kinder, gentler animal farms to appear attractive, they have invented a new PR trend. One words fits: hogwashing.1

British and U.S. pig breeders are phasing out their smallest crates as they wrap their bacon and sausages in packaging that tells us how decent they are; and Waitrose, one of Britain’s major grocery chains, touts its milk as benefiting wildlife.2 Whole Foods Market boasts of concocting a non-profit “Animal Compassion Foundation” — and now presents sales of animal flesh as tantamount to a charitable undertaking, with the endorsement, no less, of 17 animal-advocacy groups. Similarly, advocates are promoting the use of “cage-free” eggs (a technically undefined term, usually meaning “expensive”) everywhere from the Google corporation to your local school. The eggs are so popular now that there’s reportedly a national shortage.

Ice cream maker Ben and Jerry’s drew plenty of hype as the first major food manufacturer to announce it would (in a few years, anyway) use only “cage-free” eggs. At the same time, many chicken farmers say that popularizing the cage-free idea will likely mean crowding thousands of hens on shed floors, possibly leading to hunger, even cannibalism. Advocates may prefer to picture a victorious step to animal nirvana; yet all the while, plenty of animal-friendly companies produce desserts with no eggs — and, for that matter, no milk. The last thing such ethics-based firms need is competition from pious dairy vendors endorsed by animal advocates.


How tragic if we fail to see the opportunity. How tragic if the up-and-coming activists of China and elsewhere come to see animal advocacy as purporting to treat commodified cows humanely. Worldwide, the space used by six-point-six billion humans is vastly expanded as animals are bred into existence to be food. There is nothing sustainable, let alone kind, about it. So let us stop fantasizing and get to the point. What animal agribusiness is selling, we don’t need.

1. James LaVeck, in “Compassion for Sale?” (Satya, September 2006), defined “hogwashing” as “the practice of generating the public appearance of having compassion for animals while continuing to kill millions of them for profit.” ↑
2. Stonyfield Farm has partnered with various non-profits, beginning with Jane Goodall. Using packaging that described African habitats and animals, the company assured children they could be “planet protectors” by caring for the environment — presumably, in part, through Stonyfields’s dairy products. ↑
3. According to the website of “Taking Action for Animals 2007, the largest national conference of the animal protection movement,” sponsors of $10,000 and above received the “[o]pportunity to organize one event or conference session” as well as two “premium exhibit spaces at Conference.” ↑
4. See Kim Severson, “Bringing Oinks and Moos Into the Food Debate,” New York Times and International Herald Tribune, July 25, 2007. ↑
5. Nicolette Hahn Niman, Taking Action for Animals, Washington, D.C. (July 2007) (audio on file with author). ↑
6. See “Bringing Oinks and Moos Into the Food Debate” (note 4 above). ↑
7. A series of surveys by the US-based Vegetarian Resource Group shows between two and three percent of respondents consistently avoid eating flesh products, and about 1.4 percent of the total population is vegan, avoiding all animal products, including eggs and dairy. ↑
8. “Revenge of the Pork,” China Economic Review, July 2007. ↑

Lee Hall is legal director for Friends of Animals, an animal-rights advocacy group founded in New York in 1957. Lee can be reached at: Read other articles by Lee, or visit Lee's website.

This article was posted on Wednesday, August 29th, 2007 at 5:02 am and is filed under Culture, Environment, Animal Rights and Activism. Send to a friend.

All content © 2007 Dissident Voice and respective authors.

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6. NY Times Article on Dietary/Global Warming Connections

The New York Times, Claudia H. Deutsch, August 29, 2007

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7. U.K. Climate Change Action Plan

Forwarded article:

While the U.S. has been slow to discuss climate change, the topic is commonplace in Europe. In the United Kingdom (U.K.), the agricultural community is preparing an action plan. Greenhouse gases are considered the leading cause of climate change. While carbon emissions, mostly attributed to vehicles, garner the greatest attention, agriculture only accounts for 1% of the UK’s carbon emissions but 57% of its nitrous oxide and 39% of its methane emissions. Overall, agriculture accounts for 7% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. The UK's Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC) is studying how much greenhouse gases are released into the air for every kilogram of beef produced, and will compare emissions to those produced in North and South America.

NFU and various partners have published 14 fact sheets on the topic. They explain how the anticipated 1.5 to 5°C rise in average temps over the next century will impact agriculture. Animal breeds better able to adjust to extreme weather changes or deal with hotter, drier conditions may be needed, NFU says. It also suggests looking at breeds that produce less methane. Consumer demand may also change. In warmer climates, the demand for “red meat” is lower while demand for “white meat” and fish goes up. Vice versa for colder climates. Water availability will also be altered, and insects and disease will adapt. Climate change “is in the consciousness now and is a recognized thought process in everything we do," a MLC spokesperson says. See also (PDF file):

BEEF, Meghan Sapp, August 30, 2007

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8. Seeking New JVNA Logo/Suggestions Very Welcome

Our current JVNA logo has a menorah which is a very important Jewish symbol, but there is no indication of the vegetarian aspects of our group. So, based on a suggestion of JVNA advisor and volunteer Maida Genser, we are seeking an improved logo. I know that there is a lot of wisdom and creativity out there. So, please send me your suggestions. Perhaps we will put some submissions at the JVNA website and have a vote on which one we should choose. Many thanks.

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9. Planting Trees in Israel as Carbon Offsets

JNF offers carbon offsets

Published: 08/31/2007

The Jewish National Fund is launching an environmental awareness program that will propose offsetting carbon dioxide by planting trees in Israel.

In an announcement Thursday, JNF said its "GoNeutral" program is timed for Rosh Hashana.

"At, visitors can calculate the average amount of carbon dioxide they emit each year by answering a series of questions about their lifestyles and energy consumption, and then offset these emissions by supporting JNF's century-old afforestation program in Israel," the release says.

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10. Challenging the Left on Global Warming

I sent the following message to a group with a progressive philosophy. They included it in a message containing responses to articles they sent out. I think we should send similar message to all kinds of groups. When it seems appropriate, please send similar messages to groups from whom you receive messages. Thanks.

Bill Fletcher's thoughtful article reminds us that the world is heading toward an unprecedented catatstrophe from global warming and other environmental threats and that it is imperative that changes be made as soon as possible to prevent it. Yet, the responses so far have been far from adequate and much more needs to be done.

I would like to suggest a strategy that the left should adopt that might make a difference.

A 2006 UN FAO report indicated that animal-based agriculture contributes more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all of the cars, trucks and other forms of transportation worldwide (18% vs. 13.5%). What makes the situation far worse is that the same report projects that the number of farmed animals will double in the next 50 years. If that happens, increased greenhouse gas emissions from 'livestock' agriculture would negate the reductions from many other positive changes, such as increasing automobile fuel efficiencies, switching to more efficient light bulbs, etc.

Hence, while many things should be done to reduce global warming, an essential step is a major shift toward plant-based diets. Without this shift, and many more positive steps, there is no way that global climate change will not get increasingly worse, with disastrous consequences fior humanity and all of creation.

Hence, I believe the left should make a campaign to increase awareness of this issue part of a major campaign to reduce global warming's wose effects.

Too radical and unprecedented? Please consider the alternative.

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11. Civil Disobedience: A Way To Get Attention to Our Issues?

Forwarded message:

Al Gore, James Hansen, and Civil Disobedience

By Gordon Clark

In his recent global warming op-ed in the New York Times ("The Big Melt," August 16, 2007) , Nicholas Kristof reported on a conversation with Al Gore in which the former Vice-President said: "I can't understand why
there aren't rings of young people blocking bulldozers, and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants." His comment was a reaction to the ever- quickening pace of polar ice meltoff, with all its
catastrophic implications, and the huge role played by coal-fired power plants in advancing our demise through global warming.

Gore's comment was also strikingly similar to a recent quote from Dr. James Hansen, the top climate scientist at NASA: "It seems to me that young people, especially, should be doing whatever is necessary to block
construction of dirty (no CCS) coal-fired power plants."

What does it mean when one of the top scientific leaders ringing the alarm on global warming, along with a top political leader, both suggest, in so many words, nonviolent direct action (or civil disobedience) to
confront the challenge of climate change?

Clearly both men must realize the importance of nonviolent resistance in social change efforts of this magnitude and agree, if only subconsciously, with historian Howard Zinn's observation that "Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy. It is absolutely essential to it." (Dr. Hansen, for his part, goes on to quote the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution at some length.)

Gore and Hansen must both know that nonviolent direct action has been a significant catalyst in nearly every major social change movement in U.S. (and world) history, starting in this country with the Boston Tea Party and extending through the anti-slavery, woman's suffrage, labor rights, civil rights, environmental and anti-war movements. Nonviolent direct action can dramatize an injustice or danger to the general public as few other actions can. It both provokes other people to act and speak - often people who had previously been silent - and it opens up political space for them to do so. Nonviolent actions are acts of courage that inspire others to follow. They are acts of leadership.

The twin quotes also reflect the extraordinary urgency of our predicament. As Jay Gulledge, senior scientist at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, notes in Kristof's column, "Over and over again, we're finding that models correctly predict the patterns of change but understate their magnitude."

Or their speed. According to the May 2007 report from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, polar ice is melting significantly faster than computer models of climate calculate, and the Arctic Sea could be free of summer ice by 2020 - 30 years earlier than the recent prediction by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Clearly, we are running out of time.

What is strikingly curious about the quotes, however, is the suggestion by both men that "young people" need to be doing this. Clearly young people will have to suffer the disastrous effects of global warming longer than older people. But that does not make the responsibility any less on the older heads among us to take any and all actions necessary to stop the planet-destroying calculus of carbon emissions. Indeed, one would think that those who are older are more culpable for the current condition of our planet than those who are younger, and therefore more responsible for taking dramatic action to confront the crisis.

I would also imagine that young people (and I can only imagine, being middle-aged myself) are, while grateful for recognition of their vital role in the movement, probably less than enthusiastic to have this particular
imperative dumped on them and them alone.

Personally, I pray for and will gladly follow leadership from any quarter and age group. But I expect it from those in the climate change movement who are older, more experienced, and more influential. Especially when it comes to nonviolent resistance. I know, for instance, that when I or younger activists organize nonviolent direct actions, a relative few people will hear and join us, and we are lucky to get more than a few stories outside the independent media. If Al Gore were to actually call for and lead such an action it is likely that thousands would join him, and the story would be splashed across the mainstream media for all of America
to see.

None of this should be read as criticism of Mr. Gore's incredible efforts on global warming. He has arguably been the single most effective (and active) person on the planet in raising the clarion call. But perhaps now his leadership is requiring even more of him. After all, if you truly recognize the extreme emergency and catastrophic danger inherent in global warming, how long can one wait before taking the most dramatic, effective and necessary actions in response - as opposed to wondering out loud why those younger and less influential than yourself aren't doing so?

Of course, this is a question that everyone who understands the reality of global warming needs to be asking themselves right now. How long can any of us wait? As with all revolutionary changes, forging a new,sustainable society will require us to take risks, make sacrifices, and endure suffering - all hallmarks of nonviolence. And nonviolent blockades of coal-fired power plants, Mr. Gore and Dr. Hansen are correct in noting, would be an excellent place to start.

# # #

Gordon Clark is the convener of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance,

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12. Can There Be a Meat-Eating Environmentalist?

Forwarded article:


“…[T]he most inconvenient truth of all is that raising animals for meat contributes more to global warming than all the sport utility vehicles [SUV] combined [actually all of the transportation vehicles combined].” This is the contention of animal rights activists, according to a New York Times article about how the activists are taking former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore, star of the global warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” and environmental groups to task for not pointing out the contribution of meat production to global warming. The SUV point is based on a report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization which stated that animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gas than do all forms of transportation combined (see: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says it has written to more than 700 environmental groups urging them to promote vegetarianism. The organization is threatening to send a Hummer with a banner noting the meat/global warming connection to the groups’ headquarters “if they don’t start shaping up.” PETA also plans to send trucks with billboards to Gore lectures. The Humane Society of the U.S. is running ads in environmental magazines making the car/meat point, while Vegan Outreach is taking out blog ads about it. “You just cannot be a meat-eating environmentalist,” said PETA’s Mr. Prescott.

Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, responds: “We’ll encourage companies to make more efficient S.U.V.’s, and we’ll encourage consumers to buy them…but we do not find lecturing people about personal consumption choices to be effective.” While Environmental Defense agrees about eating less meat, it says it would rather spend its resources working legislatively to get greenhouse gases regulated. A Gore spokesperson merely notes that the book version of An Inconvenient Truth suggests eating less meat, on page 317.

“Global Warming: The Animal Connection” is the topic of the annual conference of the New York City Bar Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals, to be held September 29th. See:">">

The New York Times, Claudia H. Deutsch, August 29, 2007

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13. Getting Vegetarianism Onto the Worldwatch Institute’s Agenda

The Worldwatch Institute is seeking input on what theme they should stress in their “State of the World 2009” annual publication. Please contact them and suggest that they put connections between animal-based agriculture and global warming and other environmental threats on their agenda. Thanks.

State of the World 2009: ???

For the past several years, themed editions have helped us frame our annual State of the World report around the big ideas that will speed the transition to an environmentally sustainable world.

Each year, the Worldwatch Institute staff comes together to brainstorm the most important stories to include in our annual assessment of progress toward healthier societies, more equitable economies, and a cleaner environment.

We've highlighted consumption, global security, the rise of China and India on the world scene, and the unprecedented demographic shift that will make the world predominantly urban for the first time in history. Next year, we're planning to focus on the innovations needed to create a sustainable global economy.

Now, we want to hear from YOU. Help us decide what the big stories will be in 2009—and help us pick the theme that best ties them together for a compelling package.

What issues do you think will be most relevant in the months and years ahead? Which topics do you think deserve close scrutiny by experts at Worldwatch next year?

Worldwatch Institute - 1776 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036
Tel 202.452.1999 - Fax 202.296.7365 -

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14. Message from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) on Global Warming Denial

Dear Dr. Schwartz:

Thank you for your email. This is an important story. Have you seen
the UCS report on ExxonMobil? Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil
Uses Big Tobacco's Tactics to "Manufacture Uncertainty" on Climate
Change details how the oil company, like the tobacco industry in
previous decades, has

* raised doubts about even the most indisputable scientific

* funded an array of front organizations to create the appearance
of a broad platform for a tight-knit group of vocal climate change
contrarians who misrepresent peer-reviewed scientific findings

* attempted to portray its opposition to action as a positive quest
for "sound science" rather than business self-interest

* used its access to the Bush administration to block federal
policies and shape government communications on global warming.

You can find the whole report here:

We appreciate your long-term support of UCS.


Susan Teshu
Membership Assistant

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15. Religious Groups Increasingly Putting Environmental Concerns On Their Agenda

Faith goes green

By Stephanie Innes
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.03.2007

With a belief that they must speak out for the silent, some people of faith in Tucson are giving a voice to Mother Nature.

Fueled by heightened media attention to global warming, worshippers and congregations are turning their attentions to the environment. They view protecting the Earth as a justice issue, infusing it with a passion that many historically devoted to ending racial, gender and economic inequality.

Nationally, the Sierra Club has ventured into religious communities for support of its environmental advocacy, and religious groups ranging from evangelical Christian to Zoroastrian are urging greater protection of the Earth and its endangered species to members of Congress and the United Nations.

Internationally, the Vatican declared in April that abuse of the environment is against God's will and urged the world's 1 billion Catholics to be more green.

And in Tucson, some congregations are auditing their own energy use and pollution, and educating their worshippers about environmental threats unique to the region, including what they see as the precariousness of the local water supply.

"A river has a right not to be drained dry. The Earth has rights, and to care for the Earth we can't do it in the abstract," said the Rev. Stuart Taylor of St. Mark's Presbyterian Church in Midtown, who is rereading the Old and New Testaments from an environmental perspective.

Taylor will give a series of sermons this fall, which he is calling "The Green Bible," based on what he believes the Bible says about protecting the environment. Some environmentalists, for example, interpret the Bible as saying the Earth is God's body and that as humans we are assaulting our deity.

"We're looking at the Bible anew. The old interpretations have not served the Earth well," said Sylvia Thorson-Smith, a St. Mark's elder and a retired professor of sociology and religious studies. "Jesus was deeply rooted in the Earth."

Of a more practical nature, St. Mark's plans each week to give its 400 members "climate-change solutions" that they can do themselves. Those tips include replacing older heating and cooling systems with new, efficient models; cleaning the condenser coil on the refrigerator; turning off computers at night and putting them in a power-save mode; washing clothes in warm or cold water; and buying in bulk, which reduces packaging.

Other groups, including the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Northwest Tucson, sell compact fluorescent light bulbs as a way of encouraging worshippers to replace their incandescent bulbs with ones that last longer and use less energy.

The church also is considering banning non-vegetarian food from its premises.

"Eating beef is a huge pollutant of the Earth," said the church's minister, Susan Manker-Seale, who posts the menu of the local vegan restaurant Lovin' Spoonfuls on her church's walls and has the restaurant cater events. "We're not trying to force people to do anything, but we do want to inspire them to learn."

Manker-Seale's congregation recently voted to become a Green Sanctuary, part of a program within the Unitarian Universalist denomination that requires congregations to complete steps, including a community "green" project.

Vegetarianism is one of the less popular ways of going green, but Manker-Seale believes more people should be paying attention to damaging effects of the meat industry. Animal-welfare groups have recently begun promoting a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report that says the livestock business generates more greenhouse-gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined.

Other congregations have held electric-car demonstrations, switched to china and silverware instead of disposable plates and utensils, sponsored alternative gift fairs that included sales of reusable water bottles, and adopted villages harmed by global warming.

St. Philip's in the Hills, Tucson's largest Episcopal church, recently put together a "green team" of people aiming to infuse the congregation with more awareness of environmental stewardship. The church is performing an audit of its own energy consumption, and this month will begin a series of events focused on being green.

"We'd consider the Earth as the ground of all our being. It supports and sustains us and is one binding need we all have. It feeds us and it fuels us," said Greg Foraker, director of adult formation at St. Philip's. "The Earth is really central to Christian tradition, but the news we've been hearing lately reminds us that we can't let go of that core faith."

One of the upcoming speakers at the St. Philip's events will be Susan Kaplan of Tucson's Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life.

Kaplan publicly lectures anyone she sees drinking bottled water, explaining that most of the bottles end up in the landfill. Though she doesn't give faith-based reasons for her admonitions, she says the principles of her faith were a key motivator for her newfound passion.

She considers her environmentalism an extension of "tikkun olam" — a Jewish directive meaning "repair the world" — and has even written a rap song about her views that she performs to various Jewish groups.

"Remember those bad plagues we read about at Seder? Well today there are more, and they got greater and greater," the lyrics say. "Trash and rubbish, dirty air and dirty water. Waste and too much driving, The Earth is under slaughter."

Road cleanups, film screenings and education sessions about recycling are among activities that Kaplan's group sponsors.

Recently, the group helped the Tucson Hebrew Academy acquire a grant from Tucson Electric Power Co. to install solar panels on the school to generate electricity. Kaplan hopes to do more interfaith environmental projects in the future.

One local "green" interfaith initiative already in the works is a series of classes about Genesis sponsored by St. Mark's Presbyterian Church and Temple Emanu-El, a Reform Jewish congregation in Midtown. The classes begin Oct. 23.

When it comes to protecting the Earth, some would argue that Genesis appears to contradict itself. The first chapter talks about dominating the Earth, while the second chapter refers to stewardship. Environmental readings weigh on the side of stewardship, saying God would never have wanted the Earth desecrated.

Added interest in Jewish holidays that emphasize nature, like the harvest festival of Sukkot and the Jewish New Year for Trees, Tu B'Shevat, are signs that worshippers are paying more attention to the planet, Temple Emanu-El Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon said.

He noted that it was a young worshipper studying for his bar mitzvah a few years ago who got the synagogue to begin recycling the paper it uses.

"The environment is too important to be left just to politicians," said Cohon, whose synagogue has held workshops and field trips focusing on Tucson's water supply.

"Faith communities have a responsibility to educate in a variety of important areas — as rabbis, ministers, priests and imams, we need to look to the good of the whole community.

"Some of it is park cleanup, awareness of water usage; some of it is pushing people to recycle," Cohon said. "These are small things, but if everyone does them, they are not so small at all."

On StarNet: Read StarNet's "Desert Beliefs" blog for more coverage of faith and values at

● Contact reporter Stephanie Innes at 573-4134 or at

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16. Severe California Heat Wave: Indicator of What Our Future Will Be Like?

California Heat Wave Causes Blackouts

Published: September 3, 2007

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Temperatures headed back toward triple digits Monday, the seventh day of a heat wave that has contributed to blackouts leaving thousands without air conditioning.

Temperatures as high as 108 were expected in the Hollywood Hills, with the mercury likely to pass 110 in the region's desert areas, according to the National Weather Service. At 7 a.m., the weather service said, it was already 77 in downtown Los Angeles, where thermometers peaked at 100 on Sunday.

About 3,500 customers in scattered parts of Los Angeles still had no electricity early Monday, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power spokeswoman MaryAnne Piersen said.

''Probably more than 90 percent of them are due to stress on the system due to the heat,'' she said. ''Different pieces of equipment get fatigued and blow out, so they have to be replaced.''

Lightning striking power system equipment during scattered desert thunderstorms added to the strain on the system.

Some 20,000 Southern California Edison customers in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties also had no electricity, spokesman Steve Conroy said.

''We expect at this point to make solid progress at getting a lot of the service back during the morning and midday hours,'' Conroy said.

The California Independent System Operator, which oversees the state's power grid, said no major shortages were expected Monday, but it urged customers to conserve.

Dozens of cooling centers were opened across California on Sunday for people who had no air conditioning as temperatures hit 109 in Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley and more than 100 in other parts of the state. Parts of the area of have triple-digit highs since at least early last week.

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17. Can There Be a Meat-Eating Environmentalist

Forwarded message:

Dear Friends of Focus the Nation,

Students at Lewis & Clark College are leading the Focus the Nation charge! This month, they are getting signatures from every student on campus inviting our two US Senators for a regional summit here in Portland on January 31st. Then in Mid-October, with a bio-diesel support van, they will run, walk and paddle two and three mile legs as part of a “Green Torch” relay from here to the state capital. Teaming up with other colleges, they will stop along the way at high schools and middle schools to talk about Focus the Nation. With detours, it will be a 48 hour relay, and arriving in the capital at mid-day, the students will hand the invitations off to the Senators’ staff.

Can you help “Green Torch” happen at dozens of campuses across the country? Teams of students, staff and faculty relaying invitations to Senators across the state, in multiple states-- this would make an amazing nationwide statement! And it is not hard to organize. Student Life staff at Lewis & Clark have really stepped up to support the students in this effort. To learn more about how to organize a Green Torch event on your campus, contact us at

We have been getting a lot of questions about high school involvement in Focus the Nation. The simplest way to participate is to join in viewing the Focus the Nation Webcast. This interactive, two hour special will feature Stanford Professor Stephen Schneider, college and high school students, and global warming solutions experts. Co-sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation and the Earth Day Network, it will be available free of charge on Earth Day Network TV. The webcast will be organized to support small group discussion in the audiences across the nation. So at a minimum, all a high school Focus team really needs to do is reserve an auditorium for the night of January 30th!

But high schools can be more creative and ambitious. Involve teachers from across the curriculum: art, religious studies, the natural sciences, communication, theater, social studies and economics, foreign languages, psychology—all have a perspective to share. Devote an assembly to global warming solutions. Get the science and art departments to team up with a set of joint poster presentations. To learn more, consult the Model High School Agenda.

Questions? Ideas? Join Bill McKibben on our organizing phone call Wednesday morning at 9 am Pacific. Details below and at

Also, if you know folks in the Minneapolis area, Eban will be leading a Focus the Nation workshop at Macalaster College on the afternoon of September 13th— details at

Thanks for the work you are doing.

Eban Goodstein, Project Director

Chungin Chung, Communications Director

Who HASN’T Signed up for Focus the Nation? Check out our wish list at See a school that ought to be on board? Then send us an e-mail at, and set up a time to talk with our organizers. With your help, we can cross that school off our list!

Eban Goodstein
Project Director
Focus the Nation

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