July 15, 2009

7/15/2009 JVNA Special Online Newsletter: Global Catastrophe or Sustainable World? Depends on Us!!

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Article: Veganism's Essential Role In Preventing an Unprecedented Global Catastrophe

2. NAVS Summerfest Conference Adopts Resolution Urging Dietary Switches to Avoid Disasters from Global Climate Change

3. Call to Observe October 23-24 as a “Global Climate Healing Shabbat”

4. The Initial Call for a “Global Climate Healing Shabbat” With List of Endorsers

5. Major Global Warming-Related Events Planned for October 24, 2009

6. SUMMARY of Synthesis Report of the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

7. Article Explains Importance of Methane Emissions to Global Climate Change

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. Article: Veganism's Essential Role In Preventing an Unprecedented Global Catastrophe

This article is designed to be a major effort to get out the essential message that only a major shift to veganism, along with other positive lifestyle and design changes, can avoid the major disaster that the world is rapidly approaching from global climate change and other environmental threats. Suggestions on the article and how it might be used are very welcome. Please feel free to forward the article to others who might b interested. Thanks.

Veganism's Essential Role In Preventing an Unprecedented Global Catastrophe
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D

Global catastrophe or sustainable future? It will depend largely on our food choices!

It may seem naïve to argue that dietary shifts can make a major difference in responding to today's many crises, but if we stopped raising the current 60 billion farmed animals that are slaughtered annually worldwide, it would make a tremendous difference with regard to many, if not all, of today's current problems. Let us consider how.

First, it is important to recognize that the world is rapidly heading toward an unprecedented catastrophe from global climate change and other environmental threats. There are almost weekly reports of severe droughts, heat waves, storms, flooding, wildfires and meltings of polar icecaps and glaciers. While these events have occurred due to an average temperature increase of less than 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 100 years, global climate scientists, including those with the Nobel Prize-winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), are projecting an increase of from 3 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit in the next 100 years, which would end civilization as we know it.

And we are talking about threats that must be addressed very soon. Some cl imate scientists. Including James Hansen, director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Institute for Space Studies, are warning that global warming could reach a tipping point and spin out of control within a few years, with disastrous consequences, unless major changes soon occur. Scientists at the February, 2009 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science indicated that global warming will likely increase more rapidly than expected because greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) have increased faster than recent predictions and increased temperatures are setting off self-reinforcing feedback mechanisms in global ecosystems.

There is increasing awareness of the need to make major changes in many phases of society to reduce global climate change. However, most lists of recommendations ignore or give little attention to the impact of our diets on GHGs. A landmark 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization estimated that livestock production globally is responsible for more GHGs (in CO2 equivalents) than the world's entire transportation sector (18 percent vs. 13.5 percent). The report, “Livestock's Long Shadow,” also projects that the world's current population of about 60 billion farmed animals will double in 50 years if human population growth and dietary trends continue. The resulting increase in GHGs would largely negate reduced GHG emissions from improved efficiencies in transportation, electricity and other sectors and conservation steps, and make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reach the GHG reductions that climate experts think are essential to avoid a climate disaster. .

Expert recognition of the importance of diet in preventing global warming is growing. In the Fall of 2008, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC, which shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2008, called on people in the developed world to "give up meat for one day [a week] initially, and decrease [meat consumption] from there.” More recently, James Hansen, perhaps the most prominent scientific advocate of aggressive action against global warming -- told an interviewer:

"... if you eat further down on the food chain rather than animals, which have produced many greenhouse gases, and used much energy in the process of growing that meat, you can actually make a bigger contribution in that way than just about anything. So, that, in terms of individual action, is perhaps the best thing you can do."

The reason that animal agriculture's contribution is so great is that farmed animals, especially cattle, emit methane as part of their digestive and excretion processes and methane is about 23 times as potent as CO2 in producing global warming, when standard 100 year periods are considered. However, since most methane is in the atmosphere for less than 20 years, if a 20 year period is considered, methane is about72 times as potent as CO2. By contrast, CO2 is in the atmosphere for hundreds of years and its impact is reduced a by aerosols, also emitted by sources that emit CO2, which have a cooling effect.

Hence, since methane contributes about half of GHGs (in CO2 equivalents) and since farmed animals and their manure are by far the major source of methane, and since methane is in the atmosphere for only a short time, a major societal shift to plant-based diets would have a major and very rapid effect in reducing global climate change. Having major world leaders call for such a change, preferably after publicly announcing suitable changes in their own diets, could very dramatically increase awareness of the threats of global warming and the need for major dietary and other lifestyle changes. Such changes could provide some breathing space, during which other important changes could be made.

Additional factors that make switches to plant-based diets even more important are: (1) the production of animal products also causes CO2 emissions from the production of pesticides and fertilizer, use of irrigation pumps, extensive refrigeration and other processes; (2) nitrous oxides are emitted from animals' manure and from chemical fertilizer used to grow feed crops and these gases are almost 300 times as potent as CO2 in producing warming; (3) the burning of rain forests to create grazing land and land to grow feed crops for animals also releases substantial CO2 and also destroys trees that would absorb CO2; (4) because they feast on the charred remains of these trees, termites are perhaps the fastest growing animal on the planet, and they also emit methane as part of their digestive processes. Taking all of the above factors into account, the UN FAO estimate that animal agriculture emits 18 percent of GHGs (in CO2 equivalents) is arguably far lower than the true number, as incredible as the 18 percent value is when one considers all the cars, trucks, buses, planes , ships and other means of transportation worldwide.

Major shifts to vegan diets would also provide substantial relief to many other threats to humanity and all of creation:

* Widespread hunger is an increasingly important issue. A June 2009 UN Food and Agriculture report indicated that the number of chronically hungry people passed the one billion mark (more than one person in seven) for the first time. An estimated 20 million people, mostly children, die annually from hunger and its effects and many more suffer permanent physical or mental damage due to insufficient nutrition. Yet, over 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States and almost 40 percent worldwide are fed to animals raised for slaughter. The hunger situation is likely to become even more critical as world population continues to increase and droughts, reduced soil fertility, storms and other effects of global warming reduce food production.

* It is projected that half of the world's people will live in areas chronically short of water by 2050. Some climate experts are calling this the “Century of Drought.” Many US regions have experienced severe droughts for the past few years. According to California's governor, the state's drought has resulted in its wild fire season, which used to last a few months, now lasting all year round. Parts of Australia have experienced drought for ten years. Israel is facing the worst drought in its history, one so severe that the level in the Sea of Galilee dropped to a level too low to have water pumped from it.

The dietary connection is that it takes up to 14 times as much water per person for a typical animal-based diet than for a vegan diet. The amount of water necessary to raise one steer to maturity would float a naval destroyer. Also, as indicated above, animal-based agriculture contributes significantly to global warming which contributes to droughts and to the melting of glaciers and the reduced flow of rivers and streams and levels of lakes and ponds.

* A recent report by 11 retired US generals and admirals indicated that global warming is a multiplier effect for potential violence. They pointed out that there will be increasing numbers of desperate refugees fleeing floods, storms, droughts, wild fires, heat waves and other conditions caused or worsened by global climate change, and this increases the potential for instability, violence, terrorism and war. Several experts feel that a major factor behind the recent violence in Darfur is the severe drought that has afflicted the area and created many refugees.

* Species of plants and animals are disappearing at what many experts consider the fastest rate in history. One major reason is the rapid destruction of tropical rain forests (where over half of the species of plants and animals live) at a very rapid rate to create pasture land and land to raise feed crops for animals. One study indicated an average of 55 square feet of rain forest are destroyed for every quarter pound hamburger patty produced and exported for consumption in a fast food market. A recent report indicated that our oceans may be virtually free of fish by 2048, because huge trawlers put out very wide nets that capture all sea life in its area.

* There is currently an epidemic of heart disease, various types of cancer and other chronic, degenerative diseases. Efforts to treat these diseases has resulted in soaring medical costs which have resulted in major deficits and other financial problems at national, state and local levels. These financial difficulties reduce money available for environmental protection and for many other essential services. Yet, there is little effort to inform people that well-balanced, nutritious vegan diets can prevent, alleviate and sometimes reverse diseases. Instead, there are major debates about how to end the current dysfunctional medical system, in which millions of people have no or inadequate medical insurance coverage.

* Many more examples of problems made worse by animal-based agriculture can be given related to such issues as the destruction of coral reefs, soil erosion and depletion, animal wastes polluting our waters and animal-initiated diseases such as swine flu.

In view of the above and more, the world's people face a major choice. We can continue basically with current policies as the world continues on its increasingly rapid path to an unparalleled cataclysm. Or we can adopt healthy plant-based diets and other practices that can help shift our very imperiled world to a sustainable path. If we fail to act and soon, how will we explain our inaction to future generations?

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2. NAVS Summerfest Conference Adopts Resolution Urging Dietary Switches to Avoid Disasters from Global Climate Change

Due to my initiative, the resolution below was approved by all of the members of the NAVS Hall of Fame who were present at their Summerfest and then by the NAVS leaders and read at the final plenary session. Many vegetarian groups that wee present at the Summerfest endorsed the resolution and attendees were asked to contact NAVS and let them know that they supported the initiative. I am urging leaders of the AR2009 conference which starts this week to consider a similar resolution for approval at the conference. Please help spread the word about the resolution and please urge other groups to endorse similar resolutions. Thanks.

Global Warming Resolution Adopted at the NAVS 2009 SUMMERFEST

Whereas the world is rapidly approaching an unprecedented catastrophe from global warming and other environmental threats; and

Whereas a major societal shift to plant-based diets is an essential part of the necessary responses;

The North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) will do everything possible to make governments, groups and individuals aware of these realities and will urge them to act according to this awareness.

Several groups at the SUMMERFEST endorsed the resolution.

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3. Call to Observe October 23-24 as a “Global Climate Healing Shabbat”

Forwarded message from Rabbi Arthur Waskow and the Shalom Center, “A Prophetic Voice in Jewish, Multireligious, and American Life”:

The Atmosphere --- or Mere Atmospherics?

The effort to prevent climate disaster for Planet Earth is not going well.

All the more reason for the Jewish community to begin preparing now for Climate Healing Shabbat on October 23-24. That is when we focus on the story of the Flood -- the near-destruction of all life on earth, and its salvation by a committed family and the Ark they built. All the more reason to plan vigorous public demand for saving the only Ark that matters --- our planet. ( Register your plans at both these places: ---



See the end of this letter for more information.)

Officials in America and around the world have so far been building only leaky Arks, and late.

The House of Representatives passed by a scant majority a watered-down bill to address the climate crisis; the Senate faces a grueling fight this fall over whether to preserve, strengthen, or weaken it even more; and at the G8 meeting of the major polluting countries in Italy, token targets were set for CO2 reductions but the rich countries refused to put up the money needed to help the poor do economic development through a path that does not burn fossil fuels. So the poorer nations refused to make commitments to reduce their CO2 emissions.

After the G8 meeting, the heads of government blew hot air of good atmospherics to describe their failure as a step forward. But the real physical atmosphere --- earth's overheated air of global scorching -- was not fooled, and not healed.

Dr. Jim Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was the first scientist to present publicly, back in 1987, the evidence that CO2 emissions were heating the earth, and that this process could lead to disaster. Now he writes that the failure of the G-8 meeting in Italy reflects the recent failure of the US in general and the House of Representatives in particular to deal seriously and realistically with the dangers of the Climate Crisis. For Hansen's article, see --

The Shalom Center agrees that the House bill is woefully weak. Unlike Hansen, however, we think it was worth passing --- because it means to the Congressmembers that they crossed a difficult boundary into new territory.

I was a legislative assistant in the House of Representatives from 1959 to 1961, working on civil rights legislation for a member of the Judiciary Committee. I remember that in 1960, Congress passed a "civil rights" act that was astonishingly weak, way way less than my Congressman wanted, adding very little to an act that had been passed in 1957 --- which was also very weak.

But what both acts did was to convince Congress that it was possible to face down Southern filibusters and strengthen weak-kneed Northerners. Then, as civil-rights demonstrations erupted all across the country, Congress passed a transformative civil rights act in 1964 and a voting-rights act in 1965.

It took massive nonviolent unrest to make that happen. But the mental barriers had been broken by the two toothless acts of 1957 and 1960.

So I think it was worthwhile -- barely -- for the House to pass the watered-down Waxman-Markey Act last month. And it will be worthwhile to keep the Senate from weakening the bill this fall.

But more basically, it's up to us --- the people.

Why is the climate/ energy act in so much trouble? --

Since the beginning of the year, oil and gas companies and electric utilities have spent nearly $24 million lobbying Congress and have made more than $4 million in campaign contributions to members of Congress, according to data by the Center for Responsive Politics.

According to lobby disclosure reports, 34 energy companies registered in the first quarter of 2009 to lobby Congress around the American Clean Ene rgy and Security Act of 2009. This group of companies spent a total of $23.7 million -- or $260,000 a day -- lobbying members of Congress in January, February and March.

Oil and gas companies, mining companies, and electric utilities combined have given more than $2 million just to the 19 members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over the legislation and held a hearing this week on the proposed "cap and trade" system energy companies are fighting.

These corporations are the Pharaohs of our day. --- Out of stubborn greed and arrogance, addiction to their own wealth and power, they are willing to bring planetary plagues upon our lives. Droughts, famines, typhoons, flooded sea-coasts, tropical diseases breaking out of their old habitats into new latitudes.

Just as it took marches and sit-ins and boycotts and "freedom schools" to break the power of segregationist pharaohs forty-some years ago, so it will take public commitment to break the power of Fossil-Fuel Pharaohs today.

And as in the ancient story, that means giving new life to old communities and shaping new forms of community - not just opposing Pharaoh but crossing into new territory, shaping a new society.

That process began when the ancient Hebrews had the courage to sacrifice a lamb and smear its blood upon their doorposts --- marking themselves out as troublemakers to the Pharaoh's FBI. The community-building took a great step forward when they discovered Shabbat along with manna -- the first affirmation of restfulness, reflection, in the face of forced labor; the first affirmation that a loving connection with the earth and God could bring forth food that did not require sweat pouring down the faces of the people to produce it.

We have an opportunity today to give new strength and life to old forms of community. This fall, the week from October 18 to October 25 could be the time for focused action. October 17 is the Shabbat when Jews read the biblical story of Creation; October 24, when Jews read the biblical story of De-creation --- the Flood --- and of the Eaeth Redeemed --- the Rainbow.

All around the world, October 24 has been named the date for public action of all sorts to heal our climate from the plague of global scorching. That is when Jews will be reading the story of Noah. On Sunday, October 25, many Christians will be reading the passage in Luke 4 where Jesus reads from the Book of Isaiah the call for declaring a Jubilee Year, freeing the people and healing the earth. Just a few days earlier, Muslims will be celebrating the New Moon of Dhul-Quida.

At the home page on our Website --
-- is the Call by Jewish leaders for action leading up to Shabbat Noach, and the call by world scientists for action on October 24. It is God's miraculous gift that these are the same day.

What should be the measuring-stick, for what is a strong "civil rights bill" for our planet today? Jim Hansen urges:

"There is an alternative, of course, and that is a carbon fee, applied at the source (mine or port of entry) that rises continually. I prefer the "fee-and-dividend" version of this approach in which all revenues are returned to the public on an equal, per capita basis, so those with below-average carbon footprints come out ahead.

"A carbon fee-and-dividend would be an economic stimulus and boon for the public. By the time the fee reached the equivalent of $1/gallon of gasoline ($115/ton of CO2) the rebate in the United States would be $2000-3000 per adult or $6000-9000 for a family with two children.

"Fee-and-dividend would work hand-in-glove with new building, appliance, and vehicle efficiency standards. A rising carbon fee is the best enforcement mechanism for building standards, and it provides an incentive to move to ever higher energy efficiencies and carbon-free energy sources. As engineering and cultural tipping points are reached, the phase-over to post-fossil energy sources will accelerate….

"With the Senate debate over climate now beginning, there is still time to turn back from cap-and-trade and toward fee-and-dividend. We need to start now. Without political leadership creating a truly viable policy like a carbon fee, not only won't we get meaningful climate legislation through the Senate, we won't be able to create the concerted approach we need globally to prevent catastrophic climate change."

In the next months, The Shalom Center will be providing materials on the Four Worlds of kabbalistic thought: spiritual sustenance in prayer, emotional awakening in song and exercises in empathy with threatened species, habitats, and cultures; intellectual information and analysis of what to do; and suggestions for public action.

Step One: ask your rabbi, your synagogue or JCC or retirement-home board, your social action and interfaith committees, your Hillel council, your school principal, to name Shabbat Noach , October 23-24, to be Global Climate Healing Shabbat. Register your plans at both these places: ---



Call the churches and mosques nearest you to invite them to take part. Put the decision on line. Call your local Jewish paper and religion editors to ask them to run a story on your plans.

Start inviting speakers, public officials, climate experts.

With blessings that we all remember: "The earth and its fullness are filled with YHWH / the Breath of Life; the planet and all who live within it." (Psalm 24)

-- Arthur

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4. The Initial Call for a “Global Climate Healing Shabbat” With List of Endorsers

Says an old Southern Black song: "God gave Noah the Rainbow Sign; No more water, the fire next time." In our generation, the Flood of Fire has come upon us in the climate crisis of global scorching and rising of the seas. We ourselves -- all of us -- must build the Ark to save humanity and all endangered life-forms. The Rainbow Sign calls us to this work of transformation.


This fall, Shabbat Noach -- when Jews around the world read the Torah portion about the Flood, Noah, the Ark, and the Rainbow -- comes on October 23-24, the day when a number of experts on the global climate crisis have called for world-wide actions to protect our planet from climate disaster.

This Torah passage lends itself to focusing on the danger of destruction of life on our planet, and also on the actions we need to take to prevent destruction and preserve the web of life in which the human race has emerged and created civilization.

So we --- both national and grass-roots leaders of the Jewish people -- urge all Jewish communities to observe Shabbat Noach as "Global Climate Healing Shabbat" with special prayers, sermons, Torah commentary/ midrash, songs, lectures, debates, panel discussions, resolutions, kiddushes, meals, nature-walks, stories for children, invitations to public officials and environmental activists, and other means of bringing Jewish commitment to bear on healing the earth from the dangers that over-use of fossil fuels is bringing upon us all.

We invite those of all religious, spiritual, and ethical traditions to join as well at that time of year.

Please register your intent to create a local event (even if you are just beginning to plan) in both these places: ---



[Please forward this message to your friends and co-workers, and please support the work by clicking on the logo at the end of this message. Please see the statement we are appending below about the worldwide scheduled events and the key planners.]

The international observance of "Global Climate Healing Shabbat Noach" is a prelude to the crucial United Nations conference on the climate crisis scheduled for Copenhagen in December, 2009.

Almost daily reports of widespread droughts, floods, storms, wildfires and melting polar ice caps, mountain snowcaps, glaciers, and the forced migration of invasive species and diseases into new territories all cry out to us for action. Passage after passage of Torah and secular Jewish writings cry out to us that as Jews we must act more vigorously, not only in private and communal households but in shaping public policy to celebrate and heal the web of life.

We urge our own members and all Jews to contact local rabbis, Jewish educators and other scholars and communal leaders to plan "Global Climate Healing Shabbat" events that will make this Shabbat (and if you wish the days just before and after it) the beginning of a truly transformative time.

We call on Jews not only to green our own households and communal buildings but also to work for major public policy changes away from fossil fuels and toward shifts in energy use, transportation, food production, housing, and other dimensions of our society.

Jewish tradition about caring for the poor also guides us to make sure that industries and regions especially affected must get help from the whole society, and that poor countries also get special help to develop on a non-fossil path and to ward off the destructive effects of climate change.

We hope the continuing momentum of Global Climate Healing Shabbat will help the December UN conference in Copenhagen make the decisions necessary to greatly reduce threats to our climate.

Please register your intentions today in both these places: ---



Signed (partial list):

Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and a leader in the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life.

Rabbi David Saperstein, director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

Nancy Ratzan, President, National Council of Jewish Women.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Director, and Arlene Goldbard, President, for The Shalom Center, which initiated this Call.

Nigel Savage, director, for Hazon.

Debra Kolodny, director, for ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal.

Richard Schwartz, president, for Jewish Vegetarian Society of North America.

Dr. Michael Kagan and Rabbi Julian Sinclair for Jewish Climate Initiative, Israel.

Nili Simhai, for the Teva Learning Center.

Jakir Manela for Kayam Farm at Pearlstone Center.

Susan Kaplan, Chair, for Southern Arizona COEJL.

Ellen Bernstein, founder of Shomrei Adamah; author, Birthday of the Trees and The Splendor of Creation

Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, Director, Baltimore Jewish Environmental Network.

Rabbi Amy Eilberg, St. Paul Interfaith Network.

Evan Eisenberg, author, The Ecology of Eden.

Dr. Mirele B. Goldsmith, Environmental Activist

Jo Ellen Green Kaiser, Editor, Zeek

Rabbis Sharon Kleinbaum and Ayelet Cohen, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, NYC, a Green Menorah Covenant congregation.

Rabbi Peter Knobel, Beth Emet, Evanston IL; past president, Central Conference of American Rabbis

Barbara Lerman-Golomb, Founder, Barbara Wow Workshop; Director Educaton and Outreach, Hazon; former ED, COEJL

Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Board, The Shalom Center

Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives, Brooklyn; Board, The Shalom Center

Rabbi Thomas A. Louchheim, Tucson

Rabbi Richard A. Marker, Co-chair, Board of World Religious Leaders

Rabbi Yocheved Mintz, President, Ohalah/ Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal

Rabbi Brant Rosen, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation of Evanston IL. a Green Menorah Covenant congregation.

Max Samson, Milwaukee; Board of The Shalom Center

Lindsey Paige Savoie, Director, Shomrei Adamah of Greater Washington

Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, Adat Shalom, Washington area; Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light, Board of The Shalom Center

Reb Zalman Hiyya Schachter-Shalomi, Boulder

Rabbi David Shneyer, Am Kolel, Washngton DC area; past president, Ohalah.

Daniel Sieradski, director, Jew It Yourself.

Rabbi Margot Stein, composer/lyricist, Guarding the Garden

Rabbi Warren Stone, Temple Emanuel, Kensington MD, a Green Menorah Covenant congregation; co-chair, environment committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

Rabbi Shawn Zevit, Director of Outreach and Tikkun Olam, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

Daniel Ziskin, PhD, Climate Scientist and President, Jews Of The Earth

Information on Jewish teachings on environmental stewardship and sustainability can be found at the websites of -----

The Shalom Center 's Green Menorah Covenant http://www.shalomctr.org

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism http://www.urj.org/green

Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) http://www.coejl.org

Canfei Nesharim http://www.canfeiNesharim.org,

Hazon http://www.hazon.org

Teva Learning Center http://tevalearningcenter.org

Adamah Fellowship http://www.isabellafreedman.org/adamah

Jewish Farm School http://www.jewishfarmschool.org

Jewish Vegetarians of North America http://www.JewishVeg.com

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5. Major Global Warming-Related Events Planned for October 24, 2009


Dear World,

This is an invitation to help build a movement--to take one day and use it to stop the climate crisis.

On [Saturday] October 24, we will stand together as one planet and call for a fair global climate treaty. United by a common call to action, we'll make it clear: the world needs an international plan that meets the latest science and gets us back to safety.

This movement has just begun, and it needs your help.

Here's the plan: we're asking you, and people in every country on earth, to organize an action in their community on October 24. There are no limits here--imagine bike rides, rallies, concerts, hikes, festivals, tree-plantings, protests, and more. Imagine your action linking up with thousands of others around the globe. Imagine the world waking up.

If we can pull it off, we'll send a powerful message on October 24: the world needs the climate solutions that science and justice demand.

It's often said that the only thing preventing us from tackling the climate crisis quickly and equitably is a lack of political will. Well, the only thing that can create that political will is a unified global movement--and no one is going to build that movement for us. It's up to regular people all over the world. That's you.

So register an event in your community for October 24, and then enlist the help of your friends. Get together with your co-workers or your local environmental group or human rights campaign, your church or synagogue or mosque or temple; enlist bike riders and local farmers and young people. All over the planet we'll start to organize ourselves.

With your help, there will be an event at every iconic place on the planet on October 24-from America's Great Lakes to Australia's Great Barrier Reef--and also in all the places that matter to you in your daily lives: a beach or park or village green or town hall.

If there was ever a time for you to get involved, it's right now. There are two reasons this year is so crucial.

The first reason is that the science of climate change is getting darker by the day. The Arctic is melting away with astonishing speed, decades ahead of schedule. Everything on the planet seems to be melting or burning, rising or parched.

And we now have a number to express our peril: 350.

NASA's James Hansen and a team of other scientists recently published a series of papers showing that we need to cut the amount of carbon in the atmosphere from its current 387 parts per million to 350 or less if we wish to "maintain a planet similar to that on which civilization developed."

No one knew that number a year ago-but now it's clear that 350 might well be the most important number for the future of the planet, a north star to guide our efforts as we remake the world. If we can swiftly get the planet on track to get to 350, we can still avert the worst effects of climate change.

The second reason 2009 is so important is that the political opportunity to influence our governments has never been greater. The world's leaders will meet in Copenhagen this December to craft a new global treaty on cutting carbon emissions.

If that meeting were held now, it would produce a treaty that would be woefully inadequate. In fact, it would lock us into a future where we'd never get back to 350 parts per million-where the rise of the sea would accelerate, where rainfall patterns would start to shift and deserts to grow. A future where first the poorest people, and then all of us, and then all the people that come after us, would find the only planet we have damaged and degraded.

October 24 comes six weeks before those crucial UN meetings in Copenhagen. If we all do our job, every nation will know the question they'll be asked when they put forth a plan: will this get the planet back on the path to 350?

This will only work with the help of a global movement-and it's starting to bubble up everywhere. Farmers in Cameroon, students in China, even World Cup skiers have already helped spread the word about 350. Churches have rung their bells 350 times; Buddhist monks have formed a huge 350 with their bodies against the backdrop of Himalayas. 350 translates across every boundary of language and culture. It's clear and direct, cutting through the static and it lays down a firm scientific line.

On October 24, we'll all stand behind 350--a universal symbol of climate safety and of the world we need to create. And at the end of the day, we'll all upload photos from our events to the www.350.org website and send these pictures around the world. This cascade of images will drive climate change into the public debate--and hold our leaders accountable to a unified global citizenry.

We need your help-the world is a big place and our team is small. Our crew at 350.org will do everything we can to support you, providing templates for banners and press releases, resources to spread the word, and tools to help you build a strong local climate action group. And our core team is always just a phone call or e-mail away if you need some support.

This is like a final exam for human beings. Can we muster the courage, the commitment, and the creativity to set this earth on a steady course before it's too late? October 24 will be the joyful, powerful day when we prove it's possible.

Please join us and register your local event today. Click to both --



[Please forward this message to your friends and co-workers.]

Bill McKibben - Author and Activist- USA
Vandana Shiva - Physicist, Activist, Author - India
David Suzuki - Scientist, Author, Activist - Canada
Bianca Jagger - Chair of the World Future Council - UK
Tim Flannery - Scientist, Author, Explorer -Australia
Bittu Sahgal - Editor of Sanctuary magazine - India
Andrew Simmons - Environmental Advocate, St. Vincent & The Grenadines
Christine Loh - Environmental Advocate and Legislator - Hong Kong

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6. SUMMARY of Synthesis Report of the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

Yarra Valley Climate Action Group

The must-read Synthesis Report from the March 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference (“Climate Change, Global risks, challenges & decisions”, Copenhagen 10-12 March, 2009, University of Copenhagen, Denmark) has just been released: http://lyceum.anu.edu.au/wp-content/blogs/3/uploads//Synthesis%20Report%20Web.pdf.

This is a vital synthesis of current climate science from the March 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference that involved 2,500 professional participants, most of them climate science researchers. All were welcome and the program and abstracts of the papers presented are available here: http://climatecongress.ku.dk/.

The key moral imperative of the Synthesis Report is “Inaction is inexcusable.”

The members of the writing team for this extensively and expertly reviewed 2009 Synthesis Report are listed below together with their credentialing institutional affiliations.

Professor Katherine Richardson (Vice-Dean, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark),

Professor Will Steffen (Executive Director of the ANU Climate Change Institute, Australian National University, Australia)

Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (Director, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany and Visiting Professor, University of Oxford, UK).

Professor Joseph Alcamo (Chief Scientist designate, United Nations Environment Program, UNEP).

Dr. Terry Barker (Centre for Climate Change Mitigation research, Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge, UK)

Professor Daniel M. Kammen (Director, Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, Energy & resources Group & Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, USA).

Professor Dr. Rik Leemans (Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, Netherlands)

Professor Diana Liveman (Director of the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, UK).

Professor Mohan Munasinghe (Munasinghe Institute for Development (MIND), Sri Lanka).

Dr. Balgis Osman-Elashe (Higher Council for Environment & Natural Resources, HCENR, Sudan).

Professor Sir Nicholas Stern (top UK climate change economist, IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government, London School of Economics, UK).

Professor Ole Wæver (Political Science Department, University of Copenhagen, Denmark).

The Synthesis Report was in 6 key areas that are briefly summarized below (with complementary documented comments added).

1. Climatic trends - the Report details the remorseless INCREASING in past decades in sea level; in energy content change for glaciers, ice caps, .Greenland ice sheet, Antarctic ice sheet, contents, atmosphere and Arctic sea ice; Greenland melt area; Greenland ice mass loss; surface air temperature; ocean heat content; atmospheric CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, and total greenhouse gases (GHGs) in CO2-equivalent.

For recent, detailed, incisive assessments of the extent of the current climate emergency see: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/climate-change-power-point-lectures-1.

2. Social and environmental disruption - the Report details actual climate disruption realities that have ALREADY HAPPENED such as (a) increased hurricane intensity, drought, fires and flooding and impacts on tropical diseases, agriculture, malnutrition, and health in general; (b) major ecosystem damage including boreal forest die-back (N America), melt of Greenland ice shelf, changes in ENSO amplitude and frequency, dieback of Amazon rainforest, Atlantic deep water formation, European ozone hole, boreal forest dieback (Russia), Permafrost and tundra loss (N America, Russia), Sahara greening, West African monsoon shift, Indian Monsoon chaotic multistability, instability of West Antarctic ice sheet and changes in Antarctic bottom water formation; (c) huge decrease in ocean pH (increased acidity) in the last 2 centuries that is unprecedented over the last 20 million years and with devastating consequences for coral and crustaceans; (d) increased species extinction rates 1,000 times that of background rates typical of the planet's history; and (e) huge increased risks in relations to species, extreme weather events, global distribution of impacts, aggregate impacts and risk of large scale discontinuities.

For a series of brilliant power point presentations on the current predicament from top climate scientists and analysts (Including Professor John Holdren, President Obama's science adviser) see “8 top Climate Change power point lectures & 300.org 300 ppm CO2 target: http://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/8-top-climate-power-point-lectures-300-ppm-co2-target.

America is a major GHG polluter and a leading annual per capita GHG polluter but is already being seriously impacted itself by man-made global warming as set out in the key 2009 summary document from the US Administration entitled “Global climate change impacts in the United States”:


3. Long term strategy: global targets and deadline - “rapid, sustained, and effective mitigation based on coordinated global and regional action is required to avoid” dangerous climate change” regardless of how it is defined”. The equilibrium temperature increase is a very damaging 2.0-2.4oC increase over the pre-industrial for a 85-50% decrease on 2000 GHG and a 445-490 ppm CO2-e or 350-400 ppm CO2 peaking at 2000-2015 (roughly the current situation with CO2-e of 460 ppm but with zero net emissions) - however, this rises to a catastrophic 4.9-6.1oC increase for a 90-140% increase on 2000 GHG and a 855-1130 ppm CO2-e or 660-790 ppm CO2 peaking at 2060-2090 (this latter scenario exceeding the projections of world-leading per capita GHG polluter and world #1 coal exporter Australia which under present policies will increase its Domestic and Exported GHG pollution on the 2000 value by about 80% by 2050: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/australia-s-5-off-2000-ghg-pollution-by-2020-endangers-australia-humanity-and-biosphere).

The most shocking finding (apart from the immense, life-threatening climate disruption already occurring across the world with a temperature of +0.7oC above that in 1900 and with a further circa 1oC virtually inevitable) is the over 50% probability of exceeding very damaging +2oC if we have as our target the "zero net emissions" target from the present atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) level of about 460 ppm CO2-equivalent.

Indeed a survey of the Copenhagen Conference participants found that 90% expected 2oC to be exceeded (see “World will not meet 2C warming target, climate change experts agree”, The Guardian, UK, 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/apr/14/global-warming-target-2c).

4. Equity dimension - “climate change is having, and will have, strongly differential effects on people within and between countries and regions, on this generation and future generations, and on human societies and the natural world ... tackling climate change should be seen as integral to the broader goals of enhancing socio-economic development and equity throughout the world” .

This indeed is the “elephant in the room” because already 16 million people die avoidably each year from deprivation and deprivation-exacerbated disease (overwhelmingly in the non-European Developing World) (see my book “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950: http://mwcnews.net/Gideon-Polya and my 2008 lecture with the same title: http://globalavoidablemortality.blogspot.com/2008/08/body-count-global-avoidable - mortality.html). The partial breakdown of 16 million people dying avoidably each year (2003 data) is 0.18 million for the Western European World (including colonization-derived Overseas Europe) , 1.1 million for the Eastern European World, 14.8 million for the non-European World, 9.5 million under-5 year old infants, about 7.4 million for the Muslim World, 0.6 million in Bangladesh, 3.7 million in India and 0.9 million in Pakistan) but Professor Lovelock's estimation of circa 10 billion excess deaths (mostly non-European) due to global warming by the end of the century lifts the average 21st century global annual death rate to an horrendous 10,000 million/100 years = 100 million per year (see. Gaia Vince (2009), “One last chance to save mankind“, New Scientist, 23 January 2009: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126921.500-one-last-chance-to-save-mankind.html?full=true
and Gideon Polya “Climate Disruption, Climate Emergency, Climate Genocide & Penultimate Bengali Holocaust through Sea Level Rise “: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/climate-disruption-climate-emergency-climate-genocide-penultimate-bengali-holocaust-through-sea-level-rise).

Currently, “annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution” in units of “tonnes CO2-equivalent per person per year” (2005-2008 data) is 0.9 (Bangladesh), 2.2 (India), 5.5 (China), 6.7 (the World), 11 (Europe), 27 (the US) and 30 (Australia; or 54 if Australia's huge Exported CO2 pollution from its world's biggest coal exports is included) (latest available estimates plus 2005 data from Wikipedia, “List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions per capita”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_greenhouse_gas_emissions_per_capita).

Top climate scientists say that the atmospheric CO2 needs to be urgently reduced to 300 ppm to make the planet safe for all peoples and all species (see 300.org: http://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/300-org). However, with global annual greenhouse gas pollution still INCREASING it is clear that World governments still do not appreciate the dire urgency of the problem. The worst offender by far is Australia which has annual per capita Domestic and Exported GHG pollution 10 times that of China, 25 times that of India and 60 times that of Bangladesh - but which under its policy of “5% off 2000 GHG pollution by 2020” is committed to INCREASING its Domestic and Exported GHG pollution from 2000 levels by 40% (2020) and by 80% (2050) (see: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/australia-s-5-off-2000-ghg-pollution-by-2020-endangers-australia-humanity-and-biosphere).

5. Inaction is inexcusable - “Society already has many tools and approaches - economic, technological, behavioural, and managerial - to deal effectively with the climate change challenge. If these tools are not widely and vigorously implemented, adaptation to the unavoidable climate change and the social transformation required to decarbonise economies will not be achieved. A wide range of benefits will flow from a concerted effort to achieve effective and rapid adaptation and mitigation. These include job growth in the sustainable sector; reductions in the health, social, economic and environmental costs of climate change; and the repair of ecosystems and revitalisation of ecosystem services".

For a clear statement about climate emergency facts and required actions see the summary provided by the Melbourne-based Yarra Valley Climate Action Group: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/climate-emergency-facts-and-required-actions. The key required actions advocated include: 1. Change of societal philosophy to one of scientific risk management and biological sustainability with complete cessation of species extinctions and zero tolerance for lying. 2. Urgent reduction of atmospheric CO2 to a safe level of about 300 ppm as recommended by leading climate and biological scientists. 3. Rapid switch to the best non-carbon and renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, wave, tide and hydro options that are currently roughly the same market price as coal burning-based power) and to energy efficiency, public transport, needs-based production, re-afforestation and return of carbon as biochar to soils coupled with correspondingly rapid cessation of fossil fuel burning, deforestation, methanogenic livestock production [my emphasis] and population growth.

A clear strategy to get governments to finally take action over the climate emergency is the so-called ABC Protocol that involves (A) Accountability of greenhouse gas (GHG)-polluting climate criminals imposing GHG pollution on all peoples and species (e.g. by naming via an electronic Climate Doomsday Book or virtual Climate Doomsday Monument of bad and good guys; by using a Green Credentialling or Green Certification system to identify products, people, companies and countries we can support and those we must boycott; and by international and intra-national sanctions, boycotts, green tariffs, reparations demands, civil actions and criminal prosecutions); (B) a Badge that activists can wear with a simple core pictorial or word message (e.g. “Climate Emergency” or “Climate Emergency Network”) or a core numerical message (e.g. “300” or “350” to indicate the urgent need to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentration to about 300 parts per million (ppm) or to less than 350 ppm, respectively); and (C) a Credo or core statement of beliefs e.g. “Safe and sustainable existence for all peoples and all species on our warming-threatened Planet requires a rapid reduction of atmospheric CO2 to 300 ppm” (see: http://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/letter-to-island-nations---accountability-badge-and-credo-abc-protocol-icc-prosecutions-may-yet-save-island-states-planet).

6. Meeting the challenge - the key final conclusion was ultimately one about human values and the enormous risk we face: "Ultimately these human dimensions of climate change [the cultures and worldviews of individuals and communities] will determine whether humanity eventually achieves the great transformation that is in sight at the beginning of the 21st century or whether humanity ends the century with a "miserable existence in a +5oC world".

The ultimate philosophic point is what VALUE do we place on other peoples and other species? The Australia-based 300.org is explicit in its position, a position that is shared by the Climate Emergency Network, the influential Melbourne-based Yarra Valley Climate Action Group, and by the over 140 climate action groups that attended the January 2009 Canberra Climate Action Summit: “There must be a safe and sustainable existence for all peoples and all species on our warming-threatened Planet and this requires a rapid reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to about 300 parts per million” (see: http://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/300-org).

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7. Article Explains Importance of Methane Emissions to Global Climate Change

Crikey: Kyoto's $20 trillion greenhouse gas factor blunder

[This story first appeared in Crikey.com on 7th of July 2009, and is repeated with permission.]

(By Geoff Russell)

It's almost 12 months since Barry Brook, Professor of Climate Change at Adelaide University, posted a piece on his blog about Australia's most powerful global warming agent. That piece, co-authored with Peter Singer and I, showed that Australia's livestock cause more warming than all our coal fired power stations. Of course, the piece wasn't a defence of coal, but a plea for people to understand the role of methane as a potent climate forcing and a plea to understand that cattle methane is no laughing matter. At that time, news media regularly and wrongly claimed that methane as a greenhouse gas has a warming impact "only" 21 (or 23, or 25) times that of CO2. Even the well read Professor Ross Garnaut showed a stunning ignorance of methane's true warming impact in his report.

Unfortunately, not much has changed, the world's media continues to misrepresent the potency of methane and cattle methane continues to prompt cartoons rather than action.

But in an opinion piece in last week's New Scientist, Kirk Smith, Professor of Global Environmental Health at the University of California in Berkeley, makes a forcefull call for methane's real warming impact to be accurately counted in international agreements. He points out that a tonne of methane has 100 times the warming during the first five years of its lifetime as a tonne of CO2, but under current Kyoto rules, its comparative potency is set at 21. This is because the relative impacts of ALL greenhouse gases are averaged over the same period 100 years, regardless of their atmospheric lifetimes.

This is like applying a blow torch to your leg for 10 seconds but calculating its average temperature as just 48 degrees because that's what it is when averaged over 20 minutes, with 20 minutes being used because that happens to be some agreed international standard when measuring heat sources applied to legs. The implication being, of course, that a blow torch for 10 seconds and a 48 degree hot water bottle for 20 minutes have the same effect. Some standards have little rational basis, and this particular standard isn't just dumb but globally and dangerously counter productive. If methane's warming were properly accounted for, there would be more incentive for reductions.

Any budding Miss Marple investigating the issue would soon realise that climate scientists don't use this Kyoto factor for methane in their global climate models. They use its true forcing, integrated, if required, over the time span under study. It's really just economists, bankers, politicians, and international climate horse traders, the kind of people who gave us the global financial meltdown, who prefer a very wrong but simple number to the truth.

Climate scientists have known about the Kyoto methane bungle for well over a decade with NASA's chief climate scientist James Hansen remarking on the inappropriateness of the Kyoto factor in a number of papers over the past decade. But changing a poor standardisation decision is like trying to stop a tidal flow with a teaspoon, especially when the constant underestimation of the full impact of livestock methane favours a rich and powerful industry like the global beef industry.

Smith's article refers to recent modelling showing that methane and black carbon reductions are the quickest way to reduce warming and give the planet a fighting chance of avoiding dangerous climate tipping points. James Hansen worked this out somewhat differently a few years back, but went even further in his 2007 paper on trace gases estimating that while control of CO2 is absolutely necessary to avoid dangerous climate change, it IS NOT sufficient. Even if we quickly and efficiently reduce all CO2 emissions, we are still toast unless we control methane and other trace gases - plus black carbon.

The activities which generate methane and black carbon are many, including livestock production, emissions escaping from coal mining operations (called colorfully "fugitive emissions"), leaky natural gas pipes, rice growing and, for black carbon, inefficient wood stoves and deforestation (we call this "land clearing" or, even more creatively, fodder harvesting when it happens in Australia).

Somewhat synchronously, an editorial in last week's Nature science journal calls for increased attention on both black carbon and methane. But the world's most prestigious science journal follows what a study last year in Public Health Nutrition found to be standard practice for news stories when discussing methane … it ignored the single biggest anthropogenic source, livestock. The study looked at 4582 climate change articles between 2005 and 2008 and found that 0.5% mentioned food animal methane emissions. The Nature editorial follows the Fawlty Tower's climate change rule … Don't mention the meat.

Global Methane production



Manure management

Fugitive Oil/Gas

Fugitive Coal




But while many articles, like Smith's, list rice production and livestock as sources of methane, their relative contributions are rarely quantified. The Edgar greenhouse gas inventory database has recently been updated with 2005 data and the key anthropogenic methane players are listed in the table on the left.

As you can see, methane from livestock and its manure is roughly the same as the combined fugitive emissions of all fossil fuels. Rice methane is about 30% of these. Most of the livestock methane is from ruminants and, believe it or not, ruminant meat provides just 1.7% of global calories for that 108 mega tonnes of methane. More than a few of those calories are saturated fat and even the CSIRO's professional red meat groupies recommend they be thrown out because they cause heart disease and erectile dysfunction … just for starters. But throwing the fat out makes an environmentally destructive industry even worse. A study in New York state in 2007 showed that it takes 75% more land to produce a thousand calories of lean beef than normal beef. Australians and others in the developed world have an exagerated view of the importance of beef and sheep meat in the global food supply, and even in Australia, beef and sheep meat are just 7.6% of apparent consumption. Apparent consumption is a carcase figure which includes waste, the actual amount consumed is even less. We export about two thirds of all beef, so the massive deforestation of Queenland in the 1990s was just a beef subsidy by the environment.

The logical course of action is to quickly phase out global beef production. This would not only make a significant dent in global climate forcings, it would free up a mountain of grain and allow reafforestation on a massive scale. The planet's 900 million malnourished people who cannot currently outbid cattle for grain would at last have a fighting chance. Rice on the other hand provides 19% of global calories for its 34 megatonnes. Rice yields are typically 10 tonnes per hectare, about 5 times that of cereals like wheat, so cutbacks to rice production would be difficult or impossible.

So what's with the $20 trillion dollars in the title of this article?

A study covered in New Scientist earlier in the year estimated that the cost of climate mitigation could be reduced by $20 trillion dollars by sharply reducing red meat (including pork) consumption. Reductions in total meat production have been recommended by the head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, but with the emphasis on trading as the tool of choice for reducing emissions, and with the Kyoto rules crippled by the methane factor blunder, any emissions trading strategy will be tackling methane with both hands tied behind its back.

It's high time Kyoto's methane factor mistake was fixed. Methane is far more potent than the figure of 21 or 25 that is consistently cited. A factor of 72 would be a reasonable compromise between accuracy and simplicity and would help in driving the changes required to reduce fugitive emissions and cattle populations.

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