November 15, 2007

11/6/2007 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Great News Re Our Documentary A SACRED DUTY

2. Connecting Animal-Based Diets to the Great Increase in Wildfires

3. Attempts to Improve Conditions at Kosher Slaughterhouses

4. Excitement Building for Unveiling of Historic Interreligious Proclamation on Animal Rights/Press Release and Two Articles/My Letter

5. Dvar Torah from Canfei Nesharim on Next Week’s Torah Reading, Re Conserving Water

6. Opportunity to Promote Vegetarianism at an Environmental Expo

7. Global Warming May Be Especially Hard on Children

8. New Diet/Cancer Link Report

9. Forests losing the ability to absorb man-made carbon

10. A Creative New Dissection Alternative

11. Israeli Nature Hike Scheduled By Heschel Center and Hazon

12. Is Factory Farming the Number One Cause of Environmental Degradation?

13. Physicians Seek End to Subsidies for Foods High in Fat and Cholesterol

14. Strong Letter From JVNA Advisor and Vegetarian Activist Roberta Schiff

15. Israel’s First ‘Green City’

16. “Denial is Not Just a River in Egypt”

Some material has been deferred to a later update/newsletter to keep this one from being even longer.

[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. Great News Re Our Documentary A SACRED DUTY

There is really great news about our one-hour documentary: A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD. Our plans for a major campaign to increase awareness of the need for a major shift toward vegetarianism as an essential part of responses to global warming and other environmental threats is moving ahead rapidly.

*** The DVDs are being produced, so we should soon have 10,000 DVDs that we are freely distributing to get the movie viewed as widely as possible, as part of our major campaign to get vegetarianism and related issues onto the Jewish and other agendas.

Already, over 300 people have requested over 600 DVDs, and many have solid plans to have showings. So, we expect to have many showings in many parts of the US and several other countries, and we hope these showings will generate additional showings and much discussion, which we hope will lead to changes in attitudes and in behavior.

Please consider how you can arrange a showing and/or help promote the movie in some other way. You may request a DVD by emailing the JVNA secretary/treasurer John Diamond at

*** We have just hired a wonderful, very experienced, award-winning publicity firm (Tellem Worldwide) and they are already busy planning major events and media contacts. They are deeply committed to our objectives and very excited about working with us.

*** I have articles and letters to editors re A SACRED DUTY and the campaign that we are building around it scheduled for publication in several vegetarian and animal rights publications.

*** Further information about A SACRED DUTY and the campaign that we are building around it can now be found at the JVNA web site at

*** After having some major premieres, we plan to make the movie widely available on the internet.

Combining all of these factors and more, we are embarking on an unprecedented campaign to make major changes in the Jewish and other communities, while there is still time. I hope to discuss all of these points and consider additional strategy ideas in a future message.

Meanwhile, if you have any suggestions re getting the widest possible audience for our movie and for getting our messages out as effectively as possible, please let me know.

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2. Connecting Animal-Based Diets to the Great Increase in Wildfires

Forwarded article from Dr. John McDougall:

Everyone Is Fiddling as California Burns

As of October 31, 2007, my home state has been burning for the past 10 days. So far over 2000 homes and more than 500,000 acres of forestland have been destroyed. Is this a glimpse into our near future?

Coincidentally, on Sunday, October 21, 2007, the day the fires in Southern California broke out, the TV news program, 60 minutes, ran the segment, “The Age Of Mega-Fires;” reporting how the size of large wildfires has increased over the past decade from 100,000 acres to 200,000 acres. They predicted that out-of-control infernos might soon consume 500,000 acres and more—they had no idea how soon “soon” would be. According to 60 minutes’ investigators, this escalation is due to global warming. Climate change has resulted in longer, drier fire seasons. Such tinderbox conditions had not been predicted to occur for another 40 years.

The rate of growth of mega fires is not the only climate change prediction scientists have recently had to update. Mark Serreze, senior research scientist at National Snow and Ice Data Center termed the decline of Arctic ice, “astounding.” “Most researchers had anticipated that the complete disappearance of the Arctic ice pack during summer months would happen after the year 2070,” he said, but now, "losing summer sea ice cover by 2030 is not unreasonable.” Seems like we have much less time to fix things than we once thought we did.

Not Much Interest in Our Destructive Diet

To some degree every person these days is aware of the damage caused by human activities to our environment and most of us are making corrections: recycling, fluorescent light bulbs, and hybrid cars. This is all good. But what have people done about our planet-destroying diet? Nothing! This lack of attention to food troubles me greatly because of the potential good that could be done for humankind.

One year ago, the 407-page United Nations’ report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, reported that 18% of the greenhouse gasses produced annually are a direct consequence of farming cows, pigs, and chickens and that animal husbandry is among the top polluters of Planet Earth. (Recall that 13.5% of greenhouse gasses are produced by all transportation.)

Over the past year, to appease the public’s lust for cheap calories, Hardee’s has introduced the 900-calorie Country Breakfast Burrito and McDonalds’ upped their rendition of “a heart attack in a bun” with the Angus third-pounder. Robert Atkins is barely cold in his grave, yet his earth-polluting recommendations have already been reincarnated by Gary Taubes in his new book Good Calories, Bad Calories. These trends tell me the public still has no clue—and many of those who do understand just don’t care enough to take action, because life is still good. Based on what has happened with fire and ice over the past few years, our “comfy lives” may be changing sooner than we had expected.

Let These Events Inspire Us to Speak Out about Our Food

Begin now by educating yourself and everyone around you. No longer tolerate people saying, “You have to eat meat to get protein, starches make you fat, and milk is necessary for strong bones.” These are not innocent lies. Deception and dishonesty threaten your children’s and grandchildren’s futures.

Change is inevitable. When people become desperate enough they will ask for real solutions. You and I need to be ready to provide real answers and real leadership. Those of us who know the truth have an obligation to take action now and in the future.

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3. Attempts to Improve Conditions at Kosher Slaughterhouses

Rethinking Kashrut: An Interview with Rabbi Morris Allen
By Yael
Born out of distress at the reported working conditions at Agriprocessors, the nation's largest kosher meat packing plant, hechsher tzedek is intended to be a way to ensure that the foods Jews eat are kosher not only ritually but also ...

Heksher Tzedek -

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4. Excitement Building for Unveiling of Historic Interreligious Proclamation on Animal Rights/Press Release and Two Articles/My Letter

Press Release (from “Best Friends Animal Society”)

Contact for more information:
John Polis (435) 644-2001, ext. 4858 (office) or (435) 689-0265 (cell),
Barbara Williamson (435) 644-2001, ext. 4408,


[I am one of the signers and I was involved in the drafting process. I wish the proclamation was far stronger re vegetarianism, but I still think it is a great step forward, specially since so many religions are involved in a common statement.]
[Message to me from the coordinator of the effort to produce the proclamation: Thanks so much, Richard…for all you’ve done…your generosity and your passion are woven through this document. Bless you for your work.

With many faith leaders I have found that an authentic, conceptual understanding of the intrinsic value of animals to the world is something that, sadly, must be painstakingly sewn upon them like a patch, if you will, to ‘complete’ them from an spiritual evolutionary perspective as it relates to how they view animals. While you stand in no pulpit, you, Richard, are among the most authentic leaders of faith with whom I have had the pleasure to work. You have a deep and profound understanding of this connection that is woven throughout the fiber of who you are…so there is no need to conceptually convince you otherwise…it is embedded in your soul. This is my work… professionally and personally…to have all people of faith…indeed, all people…stand in a full, rich, intrinsic knowledge from the very beginnings of their ability to reason…so that kindness and compassion become the norm and ignorance…however unintended…the exception. So just as these fibers are woven throughout you…they are woven throughout this document. We are blessed to have you in this work. In gratitude, Kris Lecakes Haley]
Religious leaders from many diverse faith traditions will carry a single message to Washington, D.C., on Nov. 7: Be kind to animals.

Leaders of Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, and other faith traditions will gather in the Cannon Caucus Room in the nation’s capital to sign a historic “Proclamation for Animal Compassion.” The document represents an extraordinary event when religious leaders will join together to support a single concept—kindness to animals—and urge leaders of the world’s religions to unite in this movement for compassion and mercy to all living things.

A 2006 poll commissioned by Best Friends Animal Society revealed that 89 percent of Americans agree that “we have a moral obligation to protect the animals in our care.” On the basis of that poll, Best Friends convened a group of leaders who produced the proclamation, which took shape during the height of the Michael Vick animal cruelty case.

“It seems that most of the conflicts in the world today have to do with religious differences” said Paul Berry, chief executive officer of Best Friends Animal Society, which is sponsoring the signing ceremony. “But this diverse group of religious leaders came together, worked through their differences and forged an unprecedented commitment to animal

The Religious Proclamation for Animal Compassion


An alliance of religious leaders representing faith traditions worldwide

Signing a proclamation supporting universal kindness to animals

Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007
9:30 a.m.

Cannon Caucus Room
Third Floor
Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C.

Best Friends Animal Society

That commitment will be strikingly apparent as religious leaders from many faiths journey to Washington, D.C., to attend the event, along with members of Congress and animal rescue/welfare supporters.

The new proclamation begins: “As leaders of different religious and faith traditions, we recognize the unique opportunity we have been given to effect profound and lasting change for the sake of animals, … and we accept and embrace our duty, responsibility, and moral obligation to both protect the lives of animals and assure that those lives reflect the respect and dignity they are to be afforded as part of God’s creation.”

The unanimity of agreement on the proclamation was a revelation to the religious leaders themselves. Jewish, Islamic, and Christian leaders, among others, expressed their support within the context of their own faith’s teaching on the subject.

The Rev. Larry Evans, parochial vicar of Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church in Jersey City, N.J., points out the importance of everyone pitching in for humane animal care.

"Like all of God's creation, animals are held to be sacred, living creatures that should be cared for,” Evans said. “Catholics are called to follow the example of St. Francis of Assisi, the church’s patron saint of animals and the environment, who a millennium ago set the high standard for animal compassion.”

Imam Qasim Ahmed, founder and director of the Islamic Learning Institute in Tampa, Fla., said: "Animals are beautiful creations from Allah and should be treated as such. As Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: ‘Whoever shows mercy and kindness to the creatures of Allah, then Allah shows His mercy and kindness to him.’”

Likewise, Jewish tradition upholds the importance of animal compassion.

“There is a concept of Judaism called ‘tsa’ar ba’alei chayim,’ said Rabbi Robin Nafshi of the Jewish Community Center of MetroWest in Orange, N.J. “What it really means is that we have an obligation to make sure animals live free of cruelty, pain, misuse or abuse and to ensure that we treat all living things with respect.”

The authors of the proclamation identify five critical areas of animal welfare, followed by five corresponding calls to action to all people of faith:

* Adopting homeless animals rather than purchasing companion animals from commercial breeders

* Reducing meat consumption and only buying from farms that use humane practices

* Rejecting forms of entertainment that harm or exploit animals

* Becoming aware of current harmful medical and commercial testing on animals and advocating for more humane alternatives

* Speaking out against overly aggressive land development that encroaches upon wildlife populations and habitats

“We’ve been truly inspired by the faith leaders who worked together to create this historic document,” added Berry. “Our interest in facilitating this effort was to encourage religious communities to promote compassion toward all living things, including the animals.”

The Religious Proclamation for Animal Compassion was authored by leaders of the following faith traditions: Assembly of God, Baptist, Buddhist, Roman Catholic, Church of the Brethren, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Community of Christ, Episcopalian, Interfaith/New Thought, Islamic, Jain, Jewish, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Quaker, Religious Science, Unitarian Universalist, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist.

Best Friends will facilitate a proclamation-signing campaign by giving people from around the world the opportunity to share their support by signing a public version of the document. People and leaders of faith interested in joining this effort can visit

About Best Friends Animal Society

Located on 33,000 acres in Kanab, Utah, Best Friends Animal Society operates the country’s largest sanctuary for homeless animals and is home, on any given day, to about 1,500 dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, birds, and other animals. Best Friends works globally with animal shelters and rescue groups to bring about a time when there will be no more homeless pets. Best Friends advances initiatives nationwide that promote community approaches to making the world a better place through kindness to animals, which includes adoption, spay-neuter, and humane education programs.

“Kindness to animals builds a better world for all of us”

Article in the NY Daily News About the Proclamation Unveiling Followed by My Letter To the Editor

November 4, 2007

Editor, Daily News

Dear Editor:

Kudos for your November 3 article, "Religious groups eye proclamation to protect animals." I hope the proclamation about animal welfare to be unveiled in Washington, DC on November 7 will awaken religious communities about how far the current treatment of animals is from basic religious teachings about mercy and compassion. In addition, our mistreatment of animals has many negative effects for people. For example, animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse emissions (in CO2 equivalents) than all the cars and other forms of transportation worldwide combined. So, to move our imperiled planet to a sustainable path, a major shift toward plant-based diets is essential.

Very truly yours,

Los Angeles Times article re the proclamation unveiling,1,7303598.story?track=crosspromo&coll=la-headlines-nation&ctrack=1&cset=true

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5. Dvar Torah from Canfei Nesharim on Next Week’s Torah Reading, Re Conserving Water

This dvar Torah and others can be found at

Parshat Toldot
Digging the Wells: The Importance of Protecting Our Natural Resources
By Rabbi Yuval Cherlow,
(translated from the original Hebrew by Ariel Shalem)

The Parsha of Toldot is dedicated by Baruch and Ora Sheinson, in honor of our son, Mordechai Yaakov Sheinson.

The Sefer of Bereishis is dedicated in memory of Jacob Cohen by Marilyn and Herbert Smilowitz and family.

The limited resources of the world we live in affect wide spheres of influence. To the extent that a resource is more essential and uncompromising in its need, the more potential it has to lead to conflict and war. In this week’s Torah portion, Toldot, Yitzchak (Isaac) faces conflict with the Philistines and the people of Gerar rooted in the age-old struggle surrounding the scarcity of water.

The shepherds of Gerar claim, “The water is ours” (Gen. 26:20) and effectively expel Yitzchak from the area of the well in contention, forcing him to find a new source of water. Contrary to this behavior, the Philistines simply fill up the wells Yitchak used with dirt. That is to say, the desires of the Philistines to hurt Yitzchak as a result of their jealousy toward him brought them to the place where they preferred to destroy their own ability to draw water from the wells in order to attain a political end.

The issue of water is one of the most primary issues - perhaps even the largest issue- impacting the environment and more directly and immediately influencing mankind’s current quality of living. We are not merely dealing with a potential environmental crisis that threatens tomorrow’s generations, but with environmental questions that have very concrete and specific ramifications in today’s world. Water is the concern that requires us to directly face the undeniable and harsh realization that the world’s natural resources are critically limited, and that all of creation is dependent on the existence of these natural treasures.

Our Torah portion can offer us insight as to how to deal with Israel’s contemporary water crisis. The first teaching is the necessity to remove natural resources from the realm of destruction in times of conflict and war. The fact that the Philistines deliberately filled up the wells of Yitzchak in order to expel him from their midst reflects the dangers of war and the need to protect natural resources even in times of serious conflict. The Torah comes to place limits on our ability to respond harshly during war and forbids us from wantonly destroying fruit-bearing trees as a military tactic. Even in the midst of struggle one must take the “day after” into consideration and understand the profound need for sustainability for both sides of the conflict.

The second narrative in our Torah describes the process of developing additional water sources. Yitzchak was forced to abandon the wells of his father, as well as some of his own wells, and continuously searched for new sources of water. We too are bound by the unremitting task to develop supplementary sources of water and must avoid relying solely on what exists. There are many ways to acquire new sources of water. In Israel, one possible solution is to gather rainwater (as opposed to letting it flow to the Mediterranean) in ways that balance the needs of the ecosystem with the human need for more water. Furthermore, we should be investing more effort in preserving an efficient maintenance of the national aqueduct, and at the same time eliminating even more than we already have the waste and negligence which accounts for much lost water. One example: rather than have an open channel from which water is lost by evaporation, we can use closed tunnels. Additionally, one of the greatest sources for increased water supply is through the purification of recycled water – something already done in Israel’s agricultural sector. An increased investment in this technology is critical.

Although the ethics for wise and appropriate water consumption practices are not found in our Torah portion, it is nonetheless included in the general prohibition of wanton destruction (ba’al tashchit). Due to the direct connection between water and life, the conservation of water becomes a halachic obligation, deriving its source from the laws concerning the mitzvah “You shall not stand idly by while your brothers blood is spilt” (Lev. 19:16), as well as part of the prohibition of ba’al tashchit. In Israel’s private sector what we are speaking of could translate into a small yet significant conservation of water: turning off the faucet when not in use, watering plants and gardens only at night, using only landscaping that is appropriate for Israel’s dry climate, e.g., no lawns in the desert or golf courses in Israel, water-conserving ways of car washing, and requiring efficient and minimized water tanks above toilets, and more.

On an Israeli national and industrial level, the challenge is more complex. First and foremost, there must be a government-led initiative toward proper commercial consumption and water usage, including the establishment of an appropriate price of water that would discourage the growing of products that demand exorbitant amounts of water, the management of agricultural consumption and waste of water, and the prudent use of water in the industrial sector.

The water issue in the State of Israel plays out in the international arena in two ways. On one hand, what we see in our Torah portion is also what we see in our newspaper headlines. One of our national existential struggles is our attempt to establish control over the Jordan River’s precious sources of water, which are partially found in enemy states. Geopolitically, our regional neighbors suffer from similar water problems, and the lack of water in our arid region only adds fuel to the already existing political conflagrations, thus contributing to the fears that water sources will be deliberately destroyed or poisoned or our enemies will find an additional pretext to attack the state of Israel.

On the other hand, this could be a very fine hour for the Jewish Nation to solve this regional and global concern. Israel’s resourcefulness has already proven to contribute many solutions to water scarcity. Drip irrigation is an Israeli invention that caused a revolution in agriculture, and Israel boasts the largest desalinization plant in the world. If Israel would continue to invest its intellectual prowess towards this complex issue, it could not only solve its regional issues but also bring well-being to the entire globe. First, it could minimize the amount of deaths that occur each year from thirst and water contamination. It could also rehabilitate regions in the world that have exhausted their natural resources as a result of ignorant water management. Finally, it could increase the global output of food by unleashing the latent power that nature possesses.

Furthermore, Israel could lead the way in fostering a new culture: One that promotes a sustainable relationship to water consumption and our environment. A culture that incorporates future realities in the decisions of today. A culture that consumes a more modest and humble share of the planet’s limited resources. A culture where humans understand that they are the crowns of creation and hence have a responsibility to actively protect and preserve the planet. A culture that does not destroy our planet’s resources out of political interests, but cultivates them in order to future world peace.

This idyllic culture and the peace that it merits is described in our prophecies concerning the end of days:

Then the lame man will skip like a gazelle and the tongue of the mute will sing glad song. For water will have broken out in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The scorched place will become a pond and the parched place- springs of water. The abode where the jackals rested will become grassland with reeds and bulrushes. (Isaiah 35:6-7)

Although this passage is allegorical, we are not allowed to ignore the literal meaning of the text. The “blossoming desert,” turning Israel into a powerhouse of developing new water sources for herself and for the whole world, is not only a metaphor for the redemption of humankind – it is the redemption itself.

Suggestions Action Items:

1. To save water, make a commitment to turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, between washing hands, and while lathering dishes. This small action will raise your consciousness about all your water use.
2. Learn about water challenges in the land of Israel and in your local community.
3. To find great actions to protect water in your home, visit

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Petach Tikva, is a graduate of Yeshivat Har Etzion and a retired major in the IDF. After obtaining his Rabbinic Semicha, Rabbi Cherlow served as the Rav of Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi, and as a Rav at the Hesder Yeshiva in Chispin.

Rabbi Cherlow was amongst the founders of the Tzohar Foundation, a central Modern Orthodox foundation which works to build bridges between the religious and secular worlds. Rav Cherlow is a member of Governmental Ethical Committees, and of the Presidential Press Council of Israel.

Ariel Shalem was born and raised in Los Angeles and made aliyah to Israel in 1995. He recieved a BA in English Literature from Bar Ilan Univeristy and is currently learning in the Rabbinical ordination program at the Bat Ayin Yeshiva in Israel. He is also an educator and encourages his high school students to think openly and consciously about themselves and their environment.

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6. Opportunity to Promote Vegetarianism at an Environmental Expo

[It is very important that we try to take advantage of various meetings in order to get our messages out to as many people as possible. The message below provides such an opportunity. JVNA advisor and vegetarian activist Roberta Schiff has already volunteered to help. If you would like to help her, please let me know. And if you hear of other such opportunities, also please let me know. Many thanks.]

Message from an event coordinator Les Judd:

I am happy to invite The Jewish Vegetarians of North America to participate as an exhibitor at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun's Festival of Eternal Lights: Environmental Expo and Dedication of Solar Ner Tamid on Monday, December 10 in the synagogue on West 88th Street between Broadway and West End Avenue from 7 - 9 pm. We expect between 100 and 150 people to attend. Please let me know if you can participate as soon as possible.

Take care,
Les Judd

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7. Global Warming May Be Especially Hard on Children

Forwarded article:

Global warming may hit kids harder, pediatrics group says

By Marilyn Elias, USA TODAY

Global warming is likely to disproportionately harm the health of children, and politicians should launch "aggressive policies" to curb climate change, the American Academy of Pediatrics said today.

In the first major report about the unique effects of global warming on kids, U.S. pediatricians also were advised to "educate" elected officials about the coming dangers.

There's evidence that children are likely to suffer more than adults from climate change, says the report's lead author, Katherine Shea, a pediatrician and adjunct public health professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

"We already have change, and certain bad things are going to happen no matter what we do," Shea says. "But we can prevent things from getting even worse. We don't have the luxury of waiting."

More greenhouse gases and a warming Earth will leave children particularly vulnerable in several ways, the report says:

•Air pollution does more damage to children's lungs, causing asthma and respiratory ailments, because their lungs are still developing, they breathe at a higher rate than adults and are outdoors more.

•Waterborne infections, such as diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems, hit children especially hard. These infections rise sharply with more rain, which is expected as the climate warms.

•As mosquitoes are able to move to higher ground, the malaria zone is expanding. Kids are especially vulnerable; 75% of malaria deaths occur in children younger than 5.

The report briefly mentions that mass migrations are expected as regions become uninhabitable. "Children fare very poorly in these major population shifts," says Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University and president of the Children's Health Fund. "They're more fragile medically and nutritionally," says Redlener, who wasn't involved with the report. "They're less resilient, less likely to survive."

No matter what the risks, the pediatrics academy shouldn't be sending its members out to lobby, argues Janice Crouse, director of a think tank affiliated with Concerned Women for America, a conservative public policy group. "Let them issue a scientific report, and people can judge whether it has validity. For a scientific group to use children as a means of advancing a political agenda is beyond the pale," she says.

Julie Gerberding, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, briefed a Senate committee on the health risks of global warming last week. She mentioned increasing asthma, malaria and waterborne diseases but not children's vulnerability.

The Associated Press reported that Gerberding's speech was "eviscerated" by the White House, but CDC spokesman Tom Skinner denied it, adding that Gerberding said everything she wanted to say without constraint.

"This is not a political issue, it's a public health issue," Shea says. "If we know the health of children and future children is threatened, we have an obligation to act."

comments to Include name, phone number, city and state for verification.

Copyright 2007 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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8. New Diet/Cancer Link Report

Doctors, Dietitians Stand Behind Fat/Cancer Link
Most Physicians Applaud New Report; Meat Groups Oppose Recommendations

Thanks to Dan Brook for forwarding this article

ABC News Medical Unit
Oct. 31, 2007

Thinking about eating that extra slice of bacon for breakfast? Think again, cancer experts say.

A new study released today by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund finds convincing evidence that excess body fat as well as consumption of alcohol, red meat and processed meats like bacon increase your risk of developing cancer.

The report, titled "Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective," says that excess weight increases your risk of developing six different cancers. It also contains stringent guidelines regarding weight, diet and exercise to help reduce that risk.

"The news and conclusions are important because they help confront the view that cancer risk is something we don't control," said Dr. David Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. "In my experience, patients tend to recognize that they can control their heart disease risk, but they think of cancer as a bogeyman that pounces from the shadows … that isn't so.

"Along with avoiding tobacco, weight control and certain dietary adjustments offer powerful means of reducing risk for many, perhaps most cancers."

And although this link between obesity and cancer is not new, the new report adds a wealth of data to the existing research and condenses more than 7,000 different research papers into one comprehensive statement.

"What's new about this report is that a panel of distinguished scientists from around that world reviewed findings from multiple studies, and when we added them all together we found that excess body fat increases risk of developing cancer," said Dr. Steven Zeisel, director of the Nutrition Research Institute at the University of North Carolina and expert on the AICR panel.

Specifically, researchers found convincing evidence that excess body fat increases risk for colon, kidney, pancreatic and postmenopausal breast cancer as well as cancer of the esophagus and endometrium.

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9. Forests losing the ability to absorb man-made carbon

Article by Steve Connor, Science Editor

November 1, 2007, the Independent/UK

The sprawling forests of the northern hemisphere which extend from China and Siberia to Canada and Alaska are in danger of becoming a gigantic source of carbon dioxide rather than being a major "sink" that helps to offset man-made emissions of the greenhouse gas.

Studies show the risk of fires in the boreal forests of the north has increased in recent years because of climate change. It shows that the world's temperate woodlands are beginning to lose their ability to be an overall absorber of carbon dioxide.

Scientists fear there may soon come a point when the amount of carbon dioxide released from the northern forests as a result of forest fires and the drying out of the soil will exceed the amount that is absorbed during the annual growth of the trees. Such a prospect would make it more difficult to control global warming because northern forests are seen as a key element in the overall equations to mitigate the effect of man-made CO2 emissions.

Two studies published today show that the increase in forest fires in the boreal forests - the second largest forests after tropical rainforests - have weakened one of the earth's greatest terrestrial sinks of carbon dioxide.

One of the studies showed that in some years, forest fires in the US result in more carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere over the space of a couple of months than the entire annual emissions coming from cars and energy production of a typical US state.

A second study found that, over a 60-year period, the risk of forest fires in 1 million sq kms of Canadian wilderness had increased significantly, largely as a result of drier conditions caused by global warming and climate change. Tom Gower, professor of forest ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said his study showed that fires had a greater impact on overall carbon emissions from boreal
forests during the 60-year period than other factors such as rainfall, yet climate was at the heart of the issue.

The intensity and frequency of forest fires are influenced by climate change because heatwaves and drier undergrowth trigger the fires. "Climate change is what's causing the fire changes. They're very tightly coupled systems," Professor Gower said.

"All it takes is a low snowpack year and a dry summer. With a few lightning strikes, it's a tinderbox," he said.

Historically, the boreal forests have been a powerful carbon sink, with more carbon dioxide being absorbed by the forests than being released. However, the latest study, published in the journal Nature, suggests the sink has become smaller in
recent decades, and it may actually be shifting towards becoming a carbon source, Professor Gower said.

"The soil is the major source, the plants are the major sink, and how those two interplay over the life of a stand [of trees] really determines whether the boreal forest is a sink or a source of carbon," he said.

"Based on our current understanding, fire was a more important driver of the carbon balance than climate was in the past 50 years. But if carbon dioxide concentration really doubles in the next 50 years and the temperature increases 4C to 8C, all bets may be off."

The second study, published in Carbon Balance and Management, found carbon dioxide emissions from some forest fires exceeded the annual car and energy emissions from individual US states.

Christine Wiedinmyer of the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, used satellite imaging datato estimate CO2 output based on the degree of
forest cover in a particular area.

In some years, the amount of CO2 released from forest fires was equivalent to about 5 per cent of the man-made total. But in other years, more widespread and intense forest fires resulted in massively increased emissions.

"There is a significant potential for additional net release of carbon from forests of the United States due to changing fire dynamics in the coming decades," Dr Wiedinmyer said.

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10. A Creative New Dissection Alternative

Dear Richard,

Here is a little blurb and we would love to get written in your newsletter. The website is If you do write about us, please let us know. Ideally we would like a link to Animal Rights Organizations and be called Dissection Alternatives.

Over four thousand schools use our products, which mean thousands of less animals are being dissected.

Anatomy in Clay™ An Anatomy Learning System and Alternative to Dissection Is a system that combines the firepower of both Central Nervous and Proprioceptive Systems. In the kinesthetic analysis required to build anatomy, you build it, structure by structure, from inside-out. You analyze form and attachments—and their consequent potential functionality—and then shape and add muscles, nerves, blood vessels, organs, diagrams, anything you wish to study. Building in non-hardening clay onto specially designed, durable scale models of skeletons, means you have in your hands a non-consumable, research proven option for learning about the body.


Douglas Cortese

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11. Israeli Nature Hike Scheduled By Heschel Center and Hazon

Richard, here is a blurb that you can use . We are including a discount that you can promote to your list. Thanks.

The Heschel Hazon Hike biShvil Yisrael: Walking for a Sustainable Future for Israel

March 23-27, 2008 | |

Join Hazon and the Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership on a 4-day hike through the Galilee on the Israel National Trail.

The Heschel Hazon Hike is an incredible opportunity for you to experience Israel in an intimate and personal way. This hiking adventure will give you to opportunity to get out off the tour bus and walk along the same paths our ancestors traveled for generations.

The Heschel Hazon Hike will journey along Shvil Yisrael, Israel’s National Trail. The Israel Trail connects with villages, development towns, agricultural fields, and cities, giving participants the full breadth of features that make Israel unique. Participants will hike the along the Israel Trail for four days through the dramatic Upper Galilee region, ending at the shores of the Kinneret, the world’s lowest fresh water lake. Our path runs through valleys and over mountains, past natural springs and ancient sites, and is full of breathtaking views and beauty. Environmental experts and tour guides will accompanying us on the trail, teaching on environmental issues effecting the region; land, water, and energy use; Jewish-Arab relations, as well as local environmental initiatives.

Register today at Until November 30, we are offering a $60 discount code - just enter "israel" as a discount code.

David Rendsburg
Hazon Ride Coordinator

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12. Is Factory Farming the Number One Cause of Environmental Degradation?

Message from vegetarian activist Michael Berenzweig (response to Item in the last JVNA newsletter re Jonathan Safran’s new book):

Kudos and thanks to Jonathan Safran for his exposing the fact that the Meat & Dairy Industry plays such a great part in the environmental crisis we face, vis- a vis eco-destruction. But he undervalued, underplayed his point by not underscoring the ACTUAL environmental devastation caused by human beings eating animals and their products. Number 2 or 3, granted, is bad enough. Again, in actuality, it is number ONE!!! Research by such groups as A Center For A Livable Future at Johns Hopkins Univ.- David Brubaker PhD, The World Watch Institute, Earth Save International, Chicago University, etc., corroborate this. Doing research 4 years ago for an ecological radio program, it was found that the Meat & Dairy Industry is respnsible for more water pollution than all other industries combined!!! It as well causes the most deforestation, land clearing, soil erosion, and is one the the main contributors to air pollution ( using 1/3 of the oil supply for transportation, refrigeration, fertilization, pesticides, etc.) Aside from being the main cause of Global Warming, these monumentally devastating effects should, by no means be overlooked. As mentioned to Yale physicist, Noam Mohr, something that is generally not factored in, is the fact that the deforestaion and land clearing, etc. produce massive amounts of CO2 created by destruction of the earth's flora. As well generally, or virtually never mentioned is the fact that fishing has destroyed the Mangroves Forests that have existed as dense oceans forest for millions of years ( as dense as land forests! ). And as they have acted as buffers for such phenomena as Tsunami's, their destruction, again due to humans eating animals, created the horrific destruction that occurred in Indonesia, 2 years ago, with the death of hundreds of thousands of people. This was reported by ecologists on a radio program dealing with said subject!!! Obviously there is nothing more destructive to all forms of life, on this planet, than humans ( as natural herbivores ) eating any foods derived from animals!

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13. Physicians Seek End to Subsidies for Foods High in Fat and Cholesterol

Message from JVNA advisor Mel Kimmel:

Good morning, Richard!

Did you see yesterday's news item, which follows? Would you believe there'd come a day when we'd read the following FRONT PAGE item in THE MIAMI HERALD, October 29, 2007:

Seeking a healthier and slimming national diet, many physicians - including the American Medical Association - want Congress to stop subsidizing the production of foods high in fat and cholesterol and are urging more spending to promote fruits, vegetables and grains.

"The real scandal in Washington is the farm bill," said Neal Barnard,
president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Senators take millions from corporations that produce bacon, burgers and other fatty foods. Then Congress buys up these unhealthy products and dumps them on our school lunch program. Companies get rich, and kids get fat."

The debate is intensifying as the Senate prepares..."

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14. Strong Letter From JVNA Advisor and Vegetarian Activist Roberta Schiff

To the editor: Poughkeepsie Journal

From Monday October 29 through Thursday November 1st there was extensive front page coverage about Vice President Dick Cheney coming to the Hudson Valley to hunt. Traffic problems, security issues, reactions of residents, even the sighting of a confederate flag in a garage at the gun club were covered. There were several photos of the motorcade.

The reason for his visit, to shoot animals was mentioned only in passing. What kind of animals did he and his party kill? And how many? Hunting is often referred to as a "sport". In all other sports, all the teams and players know it is a game and understand the rules. In hunting, humans with weapons take pride in overpowering and ending the lives of animals for "fun" and "bonding". The unreimbursed funds spent to allow Cheney to have eight hours of "recreation" at the gun club was minuscule compared to the millions we spend every day in Iraq and many do not consider the lives of a few animals even worth mentioning, just as the deaths of soldiers and civilians is often recited with about as much emotion as the high and low temperature for the day. Perhaps if our government and most individuals considered all life sacred we would reconsider both warfare and the killing of animals.

In an unrelated article on October 30 an archival photo taken at the Dutchess Mall was used to accompany an article about a contemporary film about the mall. The photo was of a chimpanzee carrying a rifle while very young children watched at close range. Surely there were other photos in the archive? The exploitation of animals is so pervasive in our society that it often goes unnoticed. I urge staff and readers of the Poughkeepsie Journal to read "Where The Blind Horse Sings" by Kathy Stevens, director of the Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties. You will find some amazing true and heartwarming stories of human and animal interaction and you may change the way you think about how we use and abuse our fellow creatures. Right now over 200 million turkeys are being raised in crowded, unhealthful conditions, having had their beaks cut with a hot iron and some toes amputated. Soon they will be slaughtered, many scalded while still alive, so that they can be at the center of our tables on the day set aside to give thanks. Most people do not go hunting, but all meat eaters have someone else do it for them. If you go to the Woodstock Sanctuary and meet the turkeys, you will find that they have personalities and enjoy their lives. Consider an alternative, a turkey-free celebration, it can be delicious and joyful. Try this at home or consult or for some public vegan holiday dinners.

Roberta Schiff

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15. Israel’s First ‘Green' City

Thanks to author and JVNA advisor Dan Brook for forwarding this article:

Nov 1, 2007 11:22 | Updated Nov 3, 2007 11:49
Environment Watch: Israel's first 'green' city

Kfar Saba is planning to become the first city in Israel to be recognized by the United Nations as a "green city," and has presented comprehensive plans that will affect every sphere of life in the municipality, reports the Hebrew weekly Yediot Hasharon. The city plans to win recognition from the UN's World Organization of Local Authorities, a body established in 2004 and made up of cities and towns in more than 127 countries.

According to the report, Kfar Saba is planning a "green revolution," with a comprehensive plan for numerous short-term and long-term changes. In the near future, the city plans to change all street lights to energy-conserving bulbs, work with shopping centers to reduce the use of plastic bags, use recycled paper in all municipal offices, change municipal inspectors' uniforms to ones made of recycled material, encourage the use of "clean" energy, conceal electrical transformers underground and take other steps. In the long term, the city plans to create an environmentally-friendly farm on the agricultural land in the east of the city, check the possibility of using hybrid fuels in public transport, and introduce a pilot program for newspaper recycling that will see special bins placed around the city, much as bottle-collection bins are placed now.

The report said the "jewel in the crown" will be Kfar Saba's new "green neighborhood" in the west of the city, the first in Israel to be built according to green guidelines that include improved thermal insulation and other measures designed to save electricity, solar power systems, water-saving equipment, a unique underground garbage removal system, and numerous pedestrian and bicycle paths.

A municipal spokesman said that even though building work on the "green neighborhood" has not yet begun, demand for apartments in the project has been high.

Kfar Saba mayor Yehuda Ben Hamo said it was also the city's intention to work with local businesses to encourage them to take steps toward improving the environment. The plan was put together by councilors, municipal officials and representatives from the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

But at least one councilor was critical of the plan. Guy Ben Gal said that while on the one hand Ben Hamo was embracing the idea of Kfar Saba as a green city, on the other the municipality was dismissing a serious environmental problem in the continuing gas leak around the Golda elementary school, a problem that has affected students and residents living in the school's vicinity. Ben Gal said there was "an intolerable gap between words and deeds" in the city.

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16. “Denial is Not Just a River in Egypt”

Fire, Water and Denial

by Neal Peirce

Could there be a pattern here?

The San Diego and Los Angeles areas are hit by a raging series of high-impact wildfires - the worst in the state's history. Many of the blazes coincide with areas
already scorched in 2003 by fires that themselves were declared California's worst ever.

But is there any move to get away from the areas where a century of firefighting has left many forests choked and overgrown, thick underbrush creating tinderbox
conditions? Apparently not. Most homeowners vow that they'll stay in the fire-prone areas, or return to rebuild on the charred foundations of their former homes.

Across the continent, "exceptional drought" - the National Weather Service's worst category - impacts Georgia and its neighboring states. Water levels in Lake Lanier, the 38,000-acre reservoir that supplies water to almost 5 million people, fall so drastically that the lake may dip into its storage capacity dregs in less than four months.

But Georgia limps along without a state water plan. No one wants to talk about water rationing. In suburban rings around Atlanta, planned new subdivisions don't have to prove a long-term water source before developers plunge into construction.

A stiffer assessment comes from Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.: "Georgia has been sleepwalking. The Atlanta region has the most rapid growth rate in the history of
urbanization. But Georgia's never done an assessment of its water capacity."

In California, there's praise for the professionalism of last week's firefighting effort. President Bush rushed to send federal firefighters, aircraft, grants for temporary housing and repairs, plus funding to clean up debris.

But the myopia about the future seems profound. Climate change is already having an apparent impact, with a 1-degree Fahrenheit temperature rise across the West.
"Megafires" are sprouting; fire seasons are far longer than just 20 years ago.

Natural watersheds, warned California Forestry Director Ruben Grijalva last June, are being seriously encroached. With baby boomers and others buying large houses up and over the canyons, man-made structures and paved surfaces are expanding rapidly, increasing surface runoff during storms. That leads, in turn, to more soil erosion and less water for trees or vegetation. The inevitable result: more fires, whether
intentional or accidental.

Smarter land-use planning for the fire-prone areas tops Grijalva's list of solutions. But instead, notes Bill Fulton of Solimar Research in Ventura, Calif., "We
Californians are trying to fireproof ourselves" by building houses with buffers and fire-retardant construction materials. Media attention last week focused on how that tactic actually protected some subdivisions. Though Fulton notes the obvious: Smart
land-use planning is an infinitely superior solution; "subdivisions in highly flammable forests don't make much sense."

And it's not just a California problem. This year, Idaho and Utah have seen their largest wildfires in the last 50 to 100 years; Arizona, Colorado and Oregon
registered their record years in 2002, and Texas in 2006, Tom Swetnam, a University of Arizona scientist, told a congressional hearing recently. More than 8 million acres have burned this year, the second-largest number in history, behind 2006.

There's now a "flame zone" of states suffering persistent drought and susceptibility to faster, hotter, more erratic wildfires, intensified by global warming, says Blumenauer.

And it's all but sure to get worse, he notes, with rising temperatures and an expected 100 million more Americans by 2043.

Assuming Blumenauer's right, what to do? One possible idea: Congress could create a new set of federal watershed basin authorities, not to dictate to state and local governments but rather to sit down with them to balance risk and investment - negotiating, perhaps, reasonable levels of federal construction funding in
return for state and local agreement to focus on prevention, careful planning, adaptation to the immutable forces of nature and climate change.

Including, Catherine Ross of Georgia Tech suggests, accords on critical infrastructure.

Easy to do in a complex federal system? No. But there has to be a better formula than we have now. It's obvious: This century is already too dangerous to keep
sitting on our hands.

Neal Peirce's column appears alternate Mondays on editorial pages of The Times. His e-mail address is

(c) 2007, Washington Post Writers Group

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