December 5, 2009

12/2/2009 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Happy Chanukah

2. Update on “Turning Copenhagen into CopenVegan”

3. Hazon and Jewish Climate Initiative Call for 50% Decrease in Meat Consumption by Jews by 2015

4. Many Recent Activities Point to Building Momentum Toward Plant-Based Diets

5. Recent Review of “A Sacred Duty”

6. Argument for More Passion in Promoting Vegetarianism

7. Letter From Dr. Rajendra Pachauri and Sir Paul McCartney Re Reducing Meat Consumption to Help Address Global Warming

8. New Group Promotes World Watch Article Conclusion That Animal Sector Is Responsible For at Least 51% of GHGs

9. Canfei Nesharim’s Statement on Global Warming

10. Paul McCartney Calls For Meat-Free-Day

11. NY Times Article Promotes Healthier Eating

12. Chief Rabbi of the UK Urges Jews to Respond to Global Warming

13. Update on Meat Grown in Labs

14. Hazon Food Conference Scheduled/Special Rate Offered

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. Happy Chanukah

With Chanukah starting at sundown on Friday, December 11, time to think of connections to our issues. Please see my article “Chanukah and Vegetarianism” in the festivals section at, and please consider using these points for letters to editors, calls to talk shows and talking points. Thanks.

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2. Update on “Turning Copenhagen into CopenVegan”

With the Copenhagen climate conference scheduled to take place from December 7 – 18, it is more important than ever that the delegates issue a final statement that declares that it is urgent that there be a major societal shift to plant-based diets to avoid an unprecedented global climate catastrophe.

I have been working as director of Veg Climate Alliance with some amazingly dedicated people from many countries in efforts to “turn Copenhagen into CopenVegan. Among other things, we have taken out a full page ad proclaiming that there is a “Convenient Truth,” that can help reverse global warming. We will also be distributing many flyers with our basic messages.

We are also planning a major forum on Sunday, December 13 on “Vegetarianism: Essential to Save the Planet?”

For more information, and to see our ad and flyer and some of my related writings, please visit and

As of now, for a number orf reasons, including my feeling that I might be more helpful through email messages, writing articles and press releases and helping with strategy ideas, it looks like I will noit be going to Copenhagen. But I am spending many hours daily planning events there.

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3. Hazon and Jewish Climate Initiative Call for 50% Decrease in Meat Consumption by Jews by 2015

This is a very significant development and I plan to write a JVNA press release supporting it. I hope that will be in the next JVNA newsletter. Suggestions welcome.


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4. Many Recent Activities Point to Building Momentum Toward Plant-Based Diets

[Below are just a few recent indications of the growing momentum of interest in plant-based diets.]

Forwarded message:

1) With her huge following, Martha Stewart exposes the animal industry on Thanksgiving! And promotes the movie "Food Inc." and Vegetarian cooking. Good job Martha - Vegetarianism continues to rise!

[She also had a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner, since a daughter is a vegetarian.]

2) Very recently, 60 Minutes Australia did a Primetime feature on the horrors of the pig industry. Excellent show... video and transcripts 13 minutes.

3) India's Environmental Minister promoting Veg to his whole country and the world, {He urged that all meals at the Copenhagen climate conference be vegetarian.] Obama putting on an almost complete vegetarian meal to welcome the Indian PM.

4) The Stanford University biochemist (featured in Forbes magazine) has a new mission: "Eliminate animal farming on planet Earth."

5).Plus all the amazing news from the UK recently such as

The Windsor Castle going vegan hosted by Prince Philip and UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon in attendance:

6) UK Climate change chief Lord Stern of Brentford echoed the call. He said: "Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world's resources. A vegetarian diet is better."

7) AL Gore supporting veg by eating less meat in his diet, [and admitting that meat production is a significant contributor to climate change.]

and more, including much positive publicity and reviews around Jonathan Safran Foer’s new book “Eating Animals” and his interviews and talks.

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5. Recent Review of “A Sacred Duty”

Judaism Site
Lisa Pinkus
, BellaOnline's Judaism Editor

A Sacred Duty - A Documentary Review

Conversations around the topics of environmental concerns, health and sustainability, and the ecological future of our world often lead me to a deeper contemplation of our purpose here on Earth.

It is time – no matter who you are or what you believe in – to begin to consider the bigger picture. In a world focused on immediate gratification, accumulation and thinking of only the present moment, we are neglecting the far greater responsibility to the future survival of our world and all those in it. It is time we become accountable for the actions we take and how our actions make their impact on the world around us.

Lately, I’ve trained my children to use only one paper towel when drying their hands in public restrooms; we wrap birthday presents in recycled bags from the grocery store; and we are trying to purchase more locally grown foods. Little steps can make a huge difference – the primary one being the effect they have on our children’s view of the world and how they care for it.

The more you learn, the more frightening it can become. However, increasing our knowledge is critical from this point forward. The field of ecological sustainability is not something new. The Torah is rampant with mandates on how to care for the Earth, our bodies and the animals in it.

Recently, I had the opportunity to view a documentary called A Sacred Duty, produced by multi-award-winning producer/director, writer and cinematographer, Lionel Friedberg and edited by professional editor, Diana Friedberg. The documentary is an hour long and can be viewed on the website of The Jewish Vegetarians of North America. Whether you are an environmentalist, a vegetarian, or neither – this documentary is a worthwhile view that will educate, inform and raise questions in your mind.

Ethics, morality and Torah Law. These are three of the explanations given for the imperative to take better care of our world and ourselves as demonstrated by A Sacred Duty.

What more can I be doing? What are our Torah responsibilities in regard to caring for the Earth? Is it truly G-d’s plan that we should all be vegetarians? How does the way I carry out my life impact the rest of the world? Am I really that important in the grand scheme of things?

A Sacred Duty begins in Israel, a tiny piece of land, which is – amazingly – a reflection of ecosystems found throughout the world. Pairing scientific evidence with Judaism’s ancient law, this documentary reveals how we are failing our G-d given responsibility to protect the Earth and all that is in it.

The concrete facts tell us that 18% of greenhouse gases come from livestock agriculture. Less land is needed to feed millions on a soy/vegetarian- based diet than is used to raise the cattle that feed far fewer people. With a world population where 15% of people are undernourished, one begins to wonder how we ended up here in the first place.

Was it because of Noah and Jews who said they needed more than fruits and vegetables to sustain them? How did the Jewish people – especially traditionally observant Jewish people – arrive at a place where we are disregarding G-d’s requests to care for the land, the people and the animals? Is this not the basis for ecological sustainability and “green” living that has become so popular in our culture today?

A Sacred Duty makes the insinuation that we are disregarding essential Jewish tenets to satisfy our own selfish desires. And, from what I gathered while watching this movie, there are several reasons to at least explore the concept of vegetarianism, the notion of ecological sustainability and the Torah Laws connected to caring for ourselves, for animals, and for the world.

The first being that these principles are mandates from G-d. They are just as important as any other mitzvahs we are asked to observe. The documentary covers several of them such as Bal Taschit, a prohibition against waste; Tzaar Ba’alei Hayyim, a prohibition against causing animals unnecessary pain; and, of course, implied throughout, is tikkun olam, protecting and repairing our world.

Further, the future of our world is at stake if we do not contemplate the consequences of our current way of life – each and every one of us. Whether you are religiously observant or not, future generations cannot exist if we destroy and use up all that we have.

Let the humanitarian in everyone arise. If we are able to take simple steps to ensure that most people in this world receive the proper nutrition and to significantly reduce greenhouse gases and other “bad effects” that are destroying our planet, why wouldn't we do it?

A Sacred Duty is a great – and frightening – place to start. This film is filled with hard facts and religious principles to convince the viewer of his or her responsible stewardship required as a caretaker in this world. From Israel to a global view of the world, you will be provoked, concerned and motivated to make some change – even if it is a small one.

The end of the documentary is a bit horrific with repulsive images that may just convince some of you to contemplate vegetarianism. While it is difficult to watch the inhumane treatment of some of these animals, I understand the need to show it. What we don’t ask, we don’t know. If we don’t know – how are we able to make informed decisions?

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6. Argument for More Passion in Promoting Vegetarianism

Forwarded article:

Dispassion As the World Ends: The Absent Heart of the Great Climate Affair

Stop Being So $@%!ing Polite ?By Adam D. Sacks ?Grist, October 14, 2009 ?Straight to the Source?

In “The Fallacy of Climate Activism,” I suggest that we as climate activists are not telling the unadulterated truth—which seems to worsen daily—to the public. This is one critically important reason we’re making so little progress in changing behavior and politics commensurate with the drastic acceleration of global warming. We have hurled ourselves far beyond the point where simply reducing greenhouse-gas emissions will make a difference that makes a difference.

Having examined some of the what of our missteps in “Fallacy,” in this piece I take a look at some of the how: the timid, tentative, emotionally impoverished voice of our communications, the feelings unexpressed in the face of the premature and squalid end of so much of what we love, the unfathomable reluctance to speak to the depth of the grief we are bringing upon ourselves.

Global climate disruption—having graduated in short order from a spectre a century away to a battering present-day reality—foreshadows the demise of civilization, the failure of our life-support systems, and even, perhaps, the end of most life on earth. Yet most industrialized humans, to date, remain largely unaware and only marginally concerned. This is a remarkable puzzle, and were we to solve it perhaps we would take a major step toward addressing the climate catastrophe.

I offer you a key puzzle piece: The end of all that we have known is an unthinkable thought, as are so many unprecedented abrupt and catastrophic events. When a thought is unthinkable, it is invisible even when writ large—we simply can’t see it, even when we have reason to try. If we do see it, it quickly falls from awareness. If, finally, we accept it, perhaps after months or years of getting used to the idea, we find that we’re alone, mostly talking to ourselves.

Then, when the reality strikes us all irrefutably, undeniably, without mercy, we are completely unprepared, asking incredulously, “Why didn’t somebody tell us?”

And what hasn’t been told?

To date, most of our arguments about the reality of global warming have been data-driven, psychically tepid litanies of climate science and industrial “solutions,” peppered with the heartstring-tugging of cute polar bears and sad stories of /i>, but we don’t know them and there’s nothing we can do to help anyway, except perhaps changing lightbulbs). Coastal insalination rendering vast swaths of farmland useless, houses plunging into the sea as permafrost melts, even wildfires threatening the City of the Angels, to name just a very few—these are far, far away and don’t really affect us. Or we don’t see it. (Yet.)

We climate activists are the ones who aren’t saying what needs to be said.[4] Our silence is not the lack of words, it is the absence of an essence in urgent human relationships, an essence with power to break the bonds of unthinkable thoughts:


To illustrate, I would like to reproduce for you an excerpt from one of my favorite speeches of the 19th century. It is entitled “What to a Slave Is the Fourth of July,” and was delivered by Frederick Douglass before the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society on July 5, 1852 (he refused to speak on July 4, for reasons that will quickly become apparent). Douglass, as you may remember, was one of the great political thinkers and orators of that horrific era, an escaped slave who taught himself to read and went on to become an erudite, articulate, and passionate abolitionist, a writer, a sought-after speaker, and a guest of President Lincoln.

Here are his words:

... What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong?

... What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine, that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman, cannot be divine!! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument has passed. At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, today, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire, it is not a gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. ...

Well ...

Today we are addressing the end of the world we know, quite possibly the extinction of homo sapiens and most other species on earth, and we can do little more than cite statistics?[5] Surely an unravelled web of life, miserable ends for countless creatures great and small, and mass death of billions of human beings, mostly innocent, should call for “scorching irony,” at the very least.

Where are our fire, thunder, ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, stern rebuke? Why are we so polite?[6] Why are we so obedient? What are we thinking? What aren’t we thinking? What are we doing? What aren’t we doing? When do we start? [7]

I have a proposition for you. Try your hand at a letter—to an editor, or to a friend, or to a lover, or to a child—availing yourself of all the passion you can muster as we hasten blindly toward world’s end. Post it here for all to ponder—then we’ll send the collection to everyone we know, far and wide.

When do we start? Now’s the time.

Quill and ink (or keyboard) in hand, summon your muse and write for our lives!


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7. Letter From Dr. Rajendra Pachauri and Sir Paul McCartney Re Reducing Meat Consumption to Help Address Global Warming

Brussels, 3rd December 2009

Dear Sir/Madam,

As you are certainly aware, the world – and especially the developed countries – has to take significant and urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have no doubt that you have already taken concrete steps to mitigate climate change. However, we would like to bring to your attention an option that you may have not yet considered.

Worldwide, meat production is responsible for no less than 18% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions through meat production and associated land-use changes are one of the most important causes of climate change. Yet people, especially in high-income societies, continue to eat large amounts of meat. This high meat intake not only has negative effects on the climate and biodiversity, it is also harmful for our health because it increases the risk of cardio-vascular disease, obesity, diabetes and other diseases of affluence. Hence, it is very important to limit our meat consumption.

Because our food, and especially meat consumption, is such a significant cause of greenhouse gas emissions, the most powerful resource we have in the fight against climate change may very well be… our forks. Each time you eat a vegetarian meal instead of a meat-based meal, you contribute to mitigation of emissions of greenhouse gases. So skipping the meat now and then is a good recipe against climate change.

Local governments can certainly play a role in helping citizens to reduce their intake of meat and other animal products. We would like to bring to your attention the campaigns for weekly meatless days that are appearing in different parts of the world. Notably in the case of the city of Ghent, Belgium, such a campaign was carried out in partnership between an NGO and the city government. Together they have distributed maps of the city highlighting vegetarian eateries, how-to brochures for

restaurants and changed the menu in city restaurants. Ghent has also introduced a weekly vegetarian day in all 35 city schools, an initiative which has also been enacted in schools in the city of Baltimore, USA. Similar programmes have recently started in São Paulo, Brazil and Hasselt, Belgium and other cities are considering following suit. In the UK, the Meat Free Monday campaign is encouraging people to discover the

benefits of eating less meat. The Swedish government has also produced guidelines on healthy and climate-friendly eating which include a recommendation for meat reduction.

Individuals can only do so much. It is also the responsibility of governments and industries to ensure that sustainable alternatives like plant-based products are widely available and affordable. Several alternative policies and options could lead to lower consumption of meat and climate-friendly lifestyles. Cities like Ghent, São Paulo or Baltimore have provided a menu of actions that could be more widely adopted, and it is for communities and governments to decide how to implement them. We both are appealing to leaders at the national and local levels to ensure that concrete steps are taken in this direction.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Rajendra Pachauri Sir Paul McCartney

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8. New Group Promotes World Watch Article Conclusion That Animal Sector Is Responsible For at Least 51% of GHGs

Forwarded message:

Von: Stephen Ma <

The Most Important Solution To Global Warming

Datum: Dienstag, 1. Dezember 2009, 7:38

Dear Friends,

In the run up to the Copenhagen climate change summit, it is vital that the following information be disseminated to the public as well as to our political leaders.

A widely cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and

Agriculture Organization, Livestock’s Long Shadow, estimates that 18 percent of annual worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are attributable to livestock….however recent analysis by Goodland and Anhang co-authors of “Livestock and Climate Change” in the latest issue of World Watch magazine found that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions!

The main sources of GHGs from animal agriculture are: (1)

Deforestation of the rainforests to grow feed for livestock. (2)

Methane from manure waste. – Methane is 72 times more potent as a global warming gas than CO2 (3) Refrigeration and transport of meat around the world. (4) Raising, processing and slaughtering of the animal.

Meat production also uses a massive amount of water and other resources which would be better used to feed the world’s hungry and provide water to those in need.

Based on their research, Goodland and Anhang conclude that replacing livestock products with soy-based and other alternatives would be the best strategy for reversing climate change. They say “This approach would have far more rapid effects on GHG emissions and their atmospheric concentrations- and thus on the rate the climate is warming-than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.” The fact is that we are being informed of the dangerous path we are on by depending greatly on animal flesh for human consumption. We still have the opportunity to make the most effective steps in saving ourselves and this planet. By simply choosing a plant based diet we can reduce our carbon foot print by a huge amount. We are gambling with our lives and with those of our future generations to come. It’s madness to know we are fully aware of the possible consequences but yet are failing to act. Please make a truly environmental, healthy and compassionate choice, choose to drastically reduce your meat intake or simply go vegetarian or vegan. This is the single most powerful action for preventing climate change as it is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Take action now by visiting

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours Sincerely

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9. Canfei Nesharim’s Statement on Global Warming

Learning and Resources / Environmental Issues

Statement on Climate Change (by CN's Science & Tech Advisory Board)

Approved by Canfei Nesharim Board of Directors, May 2009

Summary: What is Happening

The Earth’s climate has warmed significantly over the last 50 years, and unless human activities change dramatically, will continue to warm throughout this century.

1. Fossil fuels are burned as a result of things we do every day to eat, travel, and live in our homes.

2. Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane, are released by the burning of fossil fuels (such as oil, coal, and natural gas).

3. These “greenhouse gases” remain in the atmosphere for a long time and are causing our atmosphere to become warmer.

4. In addition, destruction of forests and other changes in the way we use our land have increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

5. The rise in atmospheric greenhouse gases parallels the rapid rise in the Earth’s surface temperature during the same period of time.

It has been predicted by sophisticated computer models, demonstrated by carefully designed experiments, and confirmed by countless direct observations that increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have profound effects on the Earth’s temperature, sea level, and the abundance and distribution of precipitation.

Why Climate Change is Important

Global warming affects the health and welfare of humans and other living organisms on this planet. To date, the earth’s surface has warmed an average of 0.7oC and according to IPCC scientists, if no corrective action takes place, carbon dioxide concentrations will double by the latter half of this century, causing a rise of from 2.0 to 5.5oC (3.6 to 10oF) in the earth’s average surface temperature.[1]

While these temperature changes may seem small, it is important to understand that even these slight changes in the average surface temperature can have profound effects on the global systems that regulate our planet. One way to help put these temperature changes into perspective, one must understand what climate change means in terms of human health and welfare[2].

While climate change might allow those in northern latitudes to enjoy warmer winters, warmer winters generally reduce the snow pack that provides the drinking water resources for a region. Snow and ice from mountain glaciers and snow pack are primary sources of water for both surface water (lakes and rivers) and ground water (the water source for wells). For example, scientists have shown that glaciers are melting at an alarming rate and may disappear within 30-50 years[3], with serious impacts on the water availability in those regions. Additionally, in many subtropical and tropical regions, increased heat will cause drying, expanding arid conditions.

Our water resources are used for agricultural, commercial, and domestic purposes. As population numbers increase and the demands for water rise, decreasing levels of available, usable water could create severe socio-political crises and economic disruptions.

Beyond the need for water, a warmer planet can have significant impacts on agriculture. Warmer winters, earlier snowmelts and later frosts have been shown to cause greater insect infestations for agricultural crops. That is because many insects die during extended winter periods of subzero temperatures.[4] Additionally, while some species of crops grow better with increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, the warmer, drier weather in some regions that are associated with increased carbon dioxide reduces overall productivity for many other key agricultural species.[5]

There is also a risk of warmer weather to human health. Aside from the very real risks posed by drought and heat stress (particularly to vulnerable populations such as babies and the elderly), there is also a potential for increased disease. Because changes in rainfall patterns and temperature regimens, may extend the range of mosquitoes that can spread malaria, yellow and dengue fever, populations that had not experienced waterborne diseases may now be susceptible.[6]

While many of us have heard predictions of sea level rise as a consequence of climate change, we do not realize that ocean islands may be completely submerged by this increase. This reality may create millions of environmental refugees as people flood into areas in search on potable water and arable land. A recent report from the United Nations projects that the sea level could rise as much as two meters by the end of the century. Sea level rise could have devastating impacts on the hundreds of millions of people currently living in densely populated coastal regions or mega-deltas of Asia and India. The United Nations estimates that a sea level rise of only one meter will cause some areas to be uninhabitable, such as the oceanic island nation, Maldives, where about 80 percent of the 1,192 coral islets are one meter or less above sea level [7].

The displacement of entire societies, most of whom have had no share in the causes of climate change, pose startling issues for human justice.

Scientific Evidence

Largely as a result of increased human activities, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has reached 385 parts per million, a 40% increase over levels in the pre-industrialized world [8] and the highest values known for the last 1 million years. [9] Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide continue to increase at a rapid rate [10] with 75% of the increase in carbon dioxide emission occurring in the last half century.[11]

Because of the long lead-time between emissions and consequent atmospheric temperature change, the atmosphere is expected to warm another 0.6°C (1.1°F) due to emissions that have already taken place even if no additional greenhouse gases are added to the atmosphere.[12]

There is a strong scientific consensus that rising carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases has caused temperatures to rise above pre-industrial times by about 0.7oC (1.3oF) and has brought the hottest weather on record for several years within the last decade. [13] Damage from climate change is predicted to be most severe for changes above 2°C (3.6°F) and a carbon dioxide concentration of 450 parts per million.[14] Combining these data, it is clear that the system has already experienced or is committed to some 65% of the warming we can safely afford.

Without any corrective action, carbon dioxide concentrations will double by the latter half of this century, resulting in a rise of from 2.0 to 5.5oC (3.6 to 10oF) in the earth’s average surface temperature.[15] Therefore, it is highly likely that significant changes in agriculture, health, and socioeconomic parameters will occur.

Some of the carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere dissolves into the ocean, thereby increasing its acidity. Ocean acidification and related worldwide changes in ocean chemistry have been shown to be detrimental to marine organisms such as reef-building corals and a host of economically important fish species.[16]

Current research cannot prove with 100% certainty that existing climate change does not have a natural component along with the human industrial influence. However, predictions climate scientists made 20 years ago as to the Earth’s response to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are entirely consistent with the actual changes that have occurred.[17] This powerful finding is matched by retrospective computer modeling that has demonstrated that the single most accurate predictor of current changes in land and ocean temperatures is the human-driven emissions of carbon dioxide.[18]

While there are uncertainties in the science of climate change, they are not about whether the Earth has already warmed or whether human emissions of greenhouse gases are responsible for a large part of this warming. Rather, they concern the magnitude of future changes if civilization does not take corrective action.

What Can Be Done to Help

Given that human activities are a critical cause of global climate change, Canfei Nesharim recognizes that people can also become motivated to act to reduce or even reverse the rate at which these changes are occurring. Specifically, as an organization we appeal to the full range of societal stakeholders to promote policies and practices that reduce carbon footprints at the individual, corporate, national, and international levels.

This appeal is consistent with the Biblical (d’araiso) injunction, Bal Tashchit—from the book of Deuteronomy (Chap. 20: 19-20). This injunction not to waste or destroy trees in times of war has been interpreted by the rabbinic authorities of the Talmud and later generations to encompass a larger proscription against wasteful destruction of resources.

“When you lay siege and battle against a city for a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees, wielding an ax against them. You may eat of them, but you must not cut them down – for is a tree of the field a man, that it should be besieged by you? Only the trees which you know are not trees for food, you shall destroy and cut them down, and you shall build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you until it is subdued.”

Over the centuries, the instruction not to waste became extended well beyond fruit trees to become a general philosophy of prudence and protection, consistent with our stewardship over the earth. We are obliged not to use more than what we need, not to destroy things needlessly, not to use something of greater value when something of lesser value will suffice and not to use something in a way it was not meant to be used (which increases the likelihood the item will be broken or destroyed). This injunction points us in the direction of proper, sustainable use of natural resources, and certainly is consistent with preventing significant damage to natural systems upon which life depends, such as our climate.

Our actions are causing destructive harm to the resources on our planet, upon which all life depends. Our Jewish tradition obligates us to take action.

Acting locally to limit our energy use and reduce our environmental impact can change a mindset of disbelief and inaction that, in turn, will move corporations and governments to greater action. Examples of these small-scale actions include but are not limited to:

a. If you can walk to shul on Shabbat, walk there for daily minyanim whenever it is convenient.

b. Get an energy audit for your congregation and, within the ability of your community to do so, implement an energy savings plan for the building.

c. Consider the energy used in simple activities such as water usage in your home and synagogue; lighting, heating and cooling buildings; and growing, transporting, and buying food.

d. Buy local to reduce fuel requirements in merchandise transportation both for your home and shul.

e. Even more effective than buying local is shifting to less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more greenhouse reduction than buying all locally sourced food. [19]

f. “Green” your home and shul as best as you can in terms of its physical structure, e.g., where appropriate, install a green roof or solar panels and compact fluorescent bulbs (taking care to buy those with lower mercury).

g. Use carpools, bicycle, or take advantage of public transportation to get to work. When buying a new car, consider the models with the highest gas efficiency.

h. Minimize home and synagogue energy usages, e.g., if you are not in a room, then turn the light off; use setback thermostats to control air temperatures; and insulate your house.

i. Work with organizations that encourage greater tree plantings or roof gardens in urban areas, especially pollution-tolerant species. This will help reduce the urban heat island effect, which is associated with increased heat-related illnesses and mortalities.[20]

To sign a pledge advocating for a Jewish response to climate change, click here.


An Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, approved in detail at IPCC Plenary XXVII (Valencia, Spain, 12-17 November 2007. These data are detailed in the Synthesis Report of over 2,500 scientists who gathered at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Plenary XXVII (Valencia, Spain, 12-17 November 2007)

For additional information refer to the US Climate Change Science Program Report Analyses of the Effects of Global Change on Human Health and Welfare and Human Systems

WGMS Glacier Mass Balance Bulletin 2002-2003, No. 8.World Glacier Monitoring Service, Zurich, 2005.

Cynthia Rosenzweig, Ana Iglesias, X.B. Yang, Paul R. Epstein, Eric Chivian. 2000. Climate Change and US Agriculture: The Impacts of Warming and Extreme Weather Events on Productivity, Plant Diseases, and Pests. Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard University.


W J Martens, L W Niessen, J Rotmans, T H Jetten, and A J McMichael. Potential impact of global climate change on malaria risk. Environ Health Perspect. 1995 10:458–464.

Shriner DS, Street RB. North America. In: Watson RT, Zinyowera MC, Moss RH, editors. The Regional Impacts of Climate Change. An Assessment of Vulnerability. [A special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group 2.] Cambridge (MA): Cambridge University Press; 1998. p. 253-330.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Climatic Data Center.

D. King. Climate change: the science and the policy. Journal of Applied Ecology 42:779-783, 2005.

Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Committee on Global Change, National Research Council, Chapter 3 Stratospheric Ozone Depletion: Global Processes, Ozone Depletion, Greenhouse Gases, and Climate Change, National Academic Press, Washington, DC, 1989, pp. 10-18.

Hansen, J., et al. Dangerous human-made interference with climate: A GISS model study. Atmos. Chem. Phys., 7:2287-2312, 2007

IPCC op. cit.




2004 UNESCO report, Priorities for Research on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World


F. Joos and R. Spahni. Rates of change in natural and anthropogenic radiative forcing over the past 22,000 years. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci USA 105:1425-1430, 2008.

CL Weber and HS Matthews, Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States, Environ. Sci. Technol., 42:3508-3513, 2008.

Gamble, J.L., K.L. Ebi, F.G. Sussman, T.J. Wilbanks. 2008. Analyses of the Effects of Global Change on Human Health and Welfare and Human Systems. A Report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, USA.

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10. Paul McCartney Calls For Meat-Free-Day

Subject: [WVW] McCartney calls for meat-free day to cut CO2


McCartney calls for meat-free day to cut CO2

(AFP) – 2 hours ago

BRUSSELS — Paul McCartney is urging consumers to fight global warming by going vegetarian at least once a week, ahead of an address he will deliver on Thursday to the European Parliament.

"By making a simple change in the way you eat, you are taking part in a world changing campaign where what's good for you is also good for the planet," the former Beatle told the Parliament Magazine.

"Having one designated meat-free day a week is a meaningful change that everyone can make," he said. "Above all, remember that the future begins with the actions we take now."

McCartney is fitting his campaign in Brussels for a "Meat-free Monday" into a European concert tour which starts Wednesday in the German city of Hamburg, where the Beatles began building their fame in the early 1960s.

McCartney, a longtime environmental campaigner, told the EU magazine that there is "clear" evidence that meat production is "major contributor" to climate change.

World leaders at the upcoming Copenhagen summit on climate change should regard a sustainable food policy as a key part of the fight to curb CO2 emissions, he said.

"A lower-meat diet could see greenhouse gases reduced by as much as 80 per cent," he said.

"Western countries currently eat meat at least seven times a week, but using a series of projected world diets, latest reports recommend reducing that to twice or three times a week."

Joining McCartney in Brussels will be Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change, and Olivier de Schutter, UN special rapporteur for the right to food.

None of the three eat meat, the Parliament Magazine said.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved. More »

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11. NY Times Article Promotes Healthier Eating

November 29, 2009

Health Care Savings Could Start in the Cafeteria


New York Times

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

Ms. Totten contends that overeating doesn't result from a nationwide failure to count calories, but from the fact that so many people consume a diet of processed, refined foods. "People overeat Doritos because those foods are designed to trick the body's beautiful ability to be able to self-regulate," she said. "When you eat primarily health-supporting foods you will recover those protective mechanisms."

A study in the January-February 2009 issue of the journal Health Affairs concluded that 75 percent of the country's $2.5 trillion in health care spending has to do with four increasingly prevalent chronic diseases: obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Most cases of these diseases, the report stated, are preventable because they are caused by behaviors like poor diets, inadequate exercise and smoking.

Obesity alone threatens to overwhelm the system. In a recent study, Kenneth Thorpe, chairman of the department of health policy and management at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, found that if trends continued, annual health care costs related to obesity would total $344 billion by 2018, or more than 20 percent of total health care spending. (It now accounts for 9 percent.)

Dr. Thorpe also said that if the incidence of obesity fell to its 1987 level, it would free enough money to cover the nation's uninsured population.

Complete article at

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12. Chief Rabbi of the UK Urges Jews to Respond to Global Warming

Article by Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks of the UK:

Essentially the Sabbath is about recognising that we are not just creators but also creation

As the Copenhagen conference on climate change approaches, it’s worth remembering a call made independently by two of the world’s most distinguished scientists. One was E. O. Wilson, pioneer of socio-biology and consilience. The other was Lord May, former President of the Royal Society. Though neither is religious, both called for an alliance of science and religion to combat global warming and the destruction of biodiversity.

They were right to do so for three reasons. First is that care for the environment is a fundamental religious imperative. In the second chapter of genesis, God places Adam in the garden to “serve and protect” it – the overarching principle of ecological responsibility. Leviticus and Deuteronomy contain the world’s first environmental legislation. The land should lie fallow every seventh and fiftieth year. There should be no needless destruction at a time of war. Jewish tradition ruled that the same applies at times of peace.

Many otherwise puzzling laws were intended, according to thirteenth century commentator Nachmanides, to inculcate respect for the integrity of nature. According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in the nineteenth century, humanity was only created on condition that we honour the earth and its non-human life. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” says the Psalm. We are merely “strangers and temporary residents” says Leviticus. Every major scientific discovery since Copernicus has added depth and pathos to this idea. We know how small we are. We are the earth’s guardians, not its owners.

The second reason is that the pioneering work of Darwin (evolution), Mendel (genes), Crick and Watson (DNA) and the mapping of the genome add up to a momentous discovery, of consequence to science and religion alike. All life, from the most primitive bacterium to you and me, comes from a single source. It is all written in the same genetic code, what Francis Collins, head of the genome project, called “the language of God”.

The prophet Hosea spoke of a covenant with “the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that move along the ground.” All life is interconnected. The miracle at the heart of monotheism is that unity up there creates diversity down here. That is an idea capable of bringing scientists and religious believers together in a shared sense of awe and responsibility.

The third is that religion has unparalleled power to change lives. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Jewish Sabbath, which we should now see as one of the great environmental-awareness days. On the Sabbath Jews are forbidden to use a car, travel by plane, shop or operate a business. If everyone did this one day in seven, we would solve the energy crisis and end global warming.

Essentially the Sabbath is about limits. It is about recognising that we are not just creators but also creations, something we share with every living and non-living thing. Once a week we relinquish our mastery over nature to remind us of the larger truth that with power comes responsibility. Not everything we can do, should we do. The Sabbath is our defence against the heedlessness and hubris that has led human beings time and again to leave in their wake a trail of ecological destruction.

The current crisis should remind us of an ancient truth. Isaiah foresaw the day when the wolf would lie down with the lamb. This is a utopian vision – though there is an apocryphal story of a zoo in Los Angeles where, in one cage, a wolf did lie down with a lamb. “How do you manage that?” one visitor asked the zoo-keeper. “Easy,” he replied, “You just need a new lamb every day.”

There was however one non-utopian moment when, according to the Bible, predator and prey did live together, namely in Noah’s ark. How did this happen? a Jewish commentator asked. He answered: because otherwise they would drown. The improbable may happen when there is no other choice.

Not everyone is convinced of global warming, but the risk is simply too great. So let us join together, scientists and religious believers, to make a commitment to living within limits. An old rabbinic teaching says that God told Adam: “All I have made, I have made for you. Be careful, therefore, not to destroy my world, for if you do, there will be no one after you to mend what you have broken.” Never was this more true than now.

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13. Update on Meat Grown in Labs

Researchers in the Netherlands created what was described as soggy pork and are now investigating ways to improve the muscle tissue in the hope that people will one day want to eat it.

No one has yet tasted their produce, but it is believed the artificial meat could be on sale within five years.

Vegetarian groups welcomed the news, saying there was “no ethical objection” if meat was not a piece of a dead animal.

Mark Post, professor of physiology at Eindhoven University, told The Sunday Times: “What we have at the moment is rather like wasted muscle tissue. We need to find ways of improving it by training it and stretching it, but we will get there.

“This product will be good for the environment and will reduce animal suffering. If it feels and tastes like meat, people will buy it.

“You could take the meat from one animal and create the volume of meat previously provided by a million animals.”

The scientists extracted cells from the muscle of a live pig and then put them in a broth of other animal products. The cells then multiplied and created muscle tissue. They believe that it can be turned into something like steak if they can find a way to artificially "exercise" the muscle.

The project is backed by the Dutch government and a sausage maker and comes following the creation of artificial fish fillets from goldfish muscle cells.

Meat produced in a laboratory could reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with real animals.

Meat and dairy consumption is predicted to double by 2050 and methane from livestock is said to currently produce about 18 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases.

Animal rights group Peta said: “As far as we’re concerned, if meat is no longer a piece of a dead animal there’s no ethical objection.”

However the Vegetarian Society said: “The big question is how could you guarantee you were eating artificial flesh rather than flesh from an animal that had been slaughtered.

“It would be very difficult to label and identify in a way that people would trust.”

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14. Hazon Food Conference Scheduled/Special Rate Offered

Forwarded message from Nigel Savage, director of Hazon:

. . . it’s December, and I’m looking forward to the 2009 Hazon Food Conference in three weeks’ time on the Monterey Coast of California, December 24-27. In three years this conference has grown from 158 people (in 2006) to 560 (in 2008). This year we’re expecting 650 people – but we have room for 700, so if you’d like to join us, I’m writing now to invite you.

It really is the perfect event for anyone interested in food, Jews and contemporary issues. Or if you just want to escape Christmas by going to a beautiful retreat center, right on the Pacific Ocean, with local kosher organic food, various flavors of davening, and round-the-clock childcare and kids’ programming. (OK: not completely round-the-clock – but pretty nearly.) I can promise a joyful Shabbat celebration, amazing speakers, workshops, lectures, demonstrations and opportunities for networking throughout the weekend.

The conference has had a significant impact on the Jewish food movement in the United States, and we were delighted that two weeks’ ago more than 500 people went to a first-ever Israel Sustainable Food Conference – inspired by, and modeled on, the Hazon Food Conference.

If you would like more information about the conference, visit Please feel free to pass this email along to family and friends! I hope you will consider joining me.

Kol tuv,

Nigel Savage

PS – If you type in the code “Nigel” you’ll get a $75 discount. FYI.

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