January 31, 2010

01/31/2011 JVNA Online Newsletter

01/31/2011 JVNA Online Newsletter
Shalom everyone,

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

1. Book Discusses Why the Planet’s Future is at Risk

2. More by Lester Brown on Why the World’s Future is at Risk

3. Veggie Pride Parade 2011 Scheduled

4. Anonymous For Animal Rights, Israel’s Leading Animal Rights Group

5. Global Temperatures Continue to Rise

6. More About the Children’s Book With the Story “Chickenless Soup” Discussed in the Previous JVNA Newsletter

7. Jewish Vegetarian Message Spreading in Spain

8. America’s Dangerous Diet

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. Book Discusses Why the Planet’s Future is at Risk

"World on the Edge," a Must-Read for 2011

Monday 24 January 2011

by: World Business Academy | Currents In Commerce | Book Review

Lester Brown's World On The Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse

"We now have an economy that is destroying its natural support systems. … We are liquidating the earth's natural assets to fuel our consumption," Academy Fellow Lester Brown writes in his latest book, World on the Edge, the must-read book of 2011.

He warns: "If we continue with business as usual, civilizational collapse is no longer a matter of whether but when—a time period more likely measured in years than decades." Before offering a road map for change, he tells a gripping tale of converging trends and missed signals.

Brown writes that "the market does many things well," and that no central planner could imagine, much less achieve, the efficiency with which it al locates resources. "But as the world economy expanded some 20-fold over the last century, it has revealed a flaw—a flaw so serious that if it is not corrected it will spell the end of civilization as we know it. The market, which sets prices, is not telling us the truth. It is omitting indirect costs that in some cases now dwarf direct costs."

He asks: "How can we assume that the growth of an economic system that is shrinking the earth's forests, eroding its soils, depleting its aquifers, collapsing its fisheries, elevating its temperature, and melting its ice sheets can simply be projected into the long-term future? What is the intellectual process underpinning these extrapolations?"

He compares the situation in economics today to that in astronomy when Copernicus arrived on the scene and had to marshal observations and mathematical calculations to dispel the notion that the sun revolved around the earth. We need "a new economic worldview based on several decades of environmental observations and analysis."

Brown states that the "key to restructuring the economy is to get the market to tell the truth through full-cost pricing…. If we can create an honest market, then market forces will rapidly restructure the world energy economy."

Throughout the book, Brown marshals a chilling array of facts to document "the ongoing liquidation of the earth's natural assets. Among the most chilling parts of the book is his graphic description of how the world is hitting peak water.

"Melting glaciers coupled with the depletion of aquifers present the most massive threat to food security the world has ever faced." Half the world's people live in the 20-some countries where water tables are falling as aquifers are being depleted. China, India, and the U.S., which together produce half the world's grain, are in this group of 20.

"Water-based 'food bubbles' that artificially inflate grain production by depleting aquifers are starting to burst, and as they do, irrigation-based harvests are shrinking." Soil erosion, the diversion of irrigation water to cities, the diversion of grain harvests to biofuels, more frequent crop-shrinking heat waves, and population growth all are compounding the problem, making food the "weak link in our 21st century civilization."

As part of the new geopolitics of food scarcity, numerous countries, led by Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and China, are leasing and buying up land (and therefore water) in Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere. Other buyers include India, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Libya, Qatar, and Bahrain. The details show the enormity of the implications.

One of the two policy cornerstones of Brown's roadmap for ending this crisis ("Plan B") is to restructure taxes by lowering income taxes and raising the tax on carbon emissions to include the indirect costs of burning fossil fuels.

Brown ends with a call to action, saying that lifestyle changes won't be enough. "Restructuring the global economy means becoming politically active…. The choice is ours—yours and mine. We can stay with business as usual and preside over an economy that continues to destroy its natural support systems until it destroys itself, or we can be the generation that changes direction, moving the world onto a path of sustained progress. The choice will be made by our generation, but it will affect life on earth for all generations to come."

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2. More by Lester Brown on Why the World’s Future is at Risk


Future At Risk


Posted on 01/21/2011 by Nativegrl77 (based on book by Lester Brown World on the Edge

The first decade of the twenty-first century ended with the hottest and wettest year in recorded history, which also saw an extraordinary level of climate disasters like the catastrophic heat wave in Russia and the floods in Pakistan. This young year is already continuing the misery. Record-hot seas, warmed by billions of tons of greenhouse pollution from the burning of fossil fuels, are fueling catastrophic floods and storms around the planet. Global food and energy prices are rising as nations overwhelmed by disasters struggle with production, which threatens our economic recovery. In the United States, the blazing summer of 2010 is being followed by a harsh winter of extremes: record snowfalls, disastrous flooding, and record heat waves.

Climate scientists first warned policymakers of the harsh consequences of dependence on the unconstrained abuse of coal and oil in the 1950s and 1960s, forecasting a future which is now our generation's reality. “The 2010 data confirm the Earth’s significant long-term warming trend,” confirmed the World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “The ten warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998.” With unabated pollution, climate disasters are poised to reach unimaginable levels of devastation in the coming years. The political climate in Washington, DC is not any brighter, as polluters have taken over the halls of Congress.

Lobbyists for carbon pollution interests have set up shop in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Republican Party is dominated by politicians who paint global warming as a scientific conspiracy. Some Democrats have joined the Republican assault on President Barack Obama's efforts to turn back carbon pollution, arguing that the only way to preserve the American dream is to leave the coal and oil industries in control of our nation's energy destiny.

GLOBAL FLOODS: On Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI offered prayers for the international victims of catastrophic flooding. Australia is facing a "disaster of biblical proportions" after weeks of rain. "The extent of flooding being experienced by Queensland is unprecedented and requires a national and united response," Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said. "Dozens of towns have been isolated or partially submerged” by Australia's extraordinary floods, which have killed at least 20 people and are now "flushing toxic, pesticide-laden sediment into the Great Barrier Reef, and could threaten fragile corals and marine life in the world’s largest living organism." The disaster "is costing Australia at least $3 billion in lost farming and coal exports." Elsewhere, extraordinary rains "have triggered widespread floods and mudslides" in Sri Lanka, killing 43 people and affecting millions more, prompting the United Nation to make a $51 million appeal for help.

With heavy rains across southern Africa, "over 50 people have died in floods in South Africa and neighbouring Mozambique," and "Zimbabwean authorities have issued flood warnings for points in the south and west of the country." Continuous rains in the Philippines have killed at least 56 people and left hundreds of thousands of people "reeling." Extreme rains have caused “the worst natural disaster to hit Brazil in four decades," where the "death toll from flooding and mudslides near Rio de Janeiro" could approach 1,000 victims. "Heavy snow and rain in the U.S. Midwest" likely means record springtime floods. “Changes in Iowa’s weather patterns, landscape, cities and farms have rendered some of the state’s most trusted flood prevention safeguards outmoded and inadequate,” a review by The Des Moines Register shows. "This is no longer something that’s theory or conjecture or something that comes out of computer models," Dr. Richard Somerville, the Nobel-winning scientist who led the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on the state of climate science in 2007, explained to ABC News. "We’re observing the climate changing. It’s real. It’s happening. It’s scientific fact."

POLLUTER TAKEOVER: The Republican surge into the halls of Congress during the 2010 elections was bankrolled by millions from right-wing coal and oil polluters like Koch Industries and Tesoro Oil that now expect a return on the investment. Conservatives have announced an ambitious agenda of deregulating the pollution that is killing Americans and threatening the planet. The incoming Republican chairs of crucial committees in the House of Representatives opposed the climate legislation supported by President Barack Obama, and now oppose limits on global warming pollution under the Clean Air Act. Their attack on public health is being led by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), once considered a “moderate on environmental issues,” but who has since worked hard to refashion himself as a hard-right defender of pollution as the incoming chairman of the House energy committee. To run his committee, Upton hired a slew of lobbyists, whose client rolls include fossil fuel interests and environmental criminals.

These ex-lobbyists "met in a closed-door session Tuesday with energy industry interests to work on strategy to handcuff the Obama administration’s climate change agenda,” Politico reports. In the Senate, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) "will introduce sweeping legislation later this month to block the Obama administration and states from imposing climate rules." Also, "[a]t least 56 senators -- just four short of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster -- will most likely support measures to hamstring climate rules, and an additional eight votes may be in play this Congress." Texas oil company Tesoro has launched a new campaign to vilify the Environmental Protection Agency's pollution rules as a "regulatory blizzard" and an "avalanche of regulations that will wipe out jobs." This attack on the EPA is being joined by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Farm Bureau, the American Petroleum Institute, Koch's Americans for Prosperity, and dozens of other right-wing front groups.

FIGHTING FOR THE FUTURE: Leadership that serves the American people and addresses climate change has not been abandoned entirely, however. "How many times do we have to be smacked in the face with factual evidence before we address global climate change? Report after report keep confirming it's getting worse every year," said Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) last week. The bipartisan presidential oil spill commission rebuked the "compromised" American Petroleum Insitute for being both the industry's standard-setter and political lobbyist. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) is combatting the Republican agenda of "taxpayer subsidies for big polluters, less oversight of oil refineries and drilling rigs, and less protections for our health." Activists across the country are defending their air and water against newly elected Tea Party politicians.

Climate scientists are fighting back as well, telling "Republican politicians to stop beating up on science and scientists." Thanks to the Recovery Act, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced yesterday that more than 300,000 low-income homes have been weatherized. High-quality clean energy technologies, he stressed, are the "road to wealth creation in the United States." At a joint news conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao, President Barack Obama said the two countries -- the world's largest energy consumers and greenhouse polluters -- "have a responsibility to combat climate change … and showing the way to a clean energy future." Looking forward, Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Daniel Weiss writes that the State of the Union address next week "presents a golden opportunity for the president to contrast conservative opposition with his reaffirmation of the nation’s commitment to a clean energy future."

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3. Veggie Pride Parade 2011 Scheduled

On Jan 24, 2011, at 8:16 AM, Pamela Rice wrote:

The City has confirmed our date:

Next Veggie Pride Parade NYC,

Sunday, May 15, 2011

More detailed info...to come.


--Pamela Rice, organizer

My Message to Pamela Rice:

Kudos, Pamela, for your continued great efforts.

You have really got this parade to be a regular, important event.

I wonder about the possibility of something new this year to get greater media attention.


* Get a superstar speaker like John Robbins, the UN Secretary General Moon, Chelsea Clinton, a Hollywood celebrity, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Bill Clinton, ...

* End with a major demonstration at the UN, with a demand that the UN promote plant-based diets to avoid the impending climate crisis.

* Stress that a major societal shift to plant-based diets is essential to avoid a climate catastrophe.

* Other ideas?

Of course, I plan to help promote the event through JVNA newsletters and in other ways.

All the best,


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4. Anonymous For Animal Rights, Israel’s Leading Animal Rights Group


Anonymous for Animal Rights

Material from their web site:

Anonymous for Animal Rights is Israel's leading animal rights group. We chose the name "Anonymous" out of deep solidarity with the suffering of those sentient beings, without name or identity, known to us only in their unimaginable numbers, who are subjected to systematic abuse. They are imprisoned in laboratories, circuses, municipal pounds - but above all: in factory farms. They are all anonymous. They all need our help.

We believe that other animals are not but means in the hands of humans to serve us as food, clothing, entertainment or subjects for research. Our treatment of other animals should be governed by compassion and by equal respect of their needs and interests. Anything less than that would qualify as a type of racism. Real change in the fate of non-human animals can only happen if we adopt a more considerate and cruelty free lifestyle.

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5. Global Temperatures Continue to Rise

Eco-Economy Indicators

Global Temperature

JANUARY 18, 2011

2010 Hits Top of Temperature Chart


Alexandra Giese

Topping off the warmest decade in history, 2010 experienced a global average temperature of 14.63 degrees Celsius (58.3 degrees Fahrenheit), tying 2005 as the hottest year in 131 years of recordkeeping.

This news will come as no surprise to residents of the 19 countries that experienced record heat in 2010. Belarus set a record of 38.7 degrees Celsius (101.7 degrees Fahrenheit) on August 6 and then broke it by 0.2 degrees Celsius just one day later. A 47.2-degree Celsius (117.0-degree Fahrenheit) spike in Burma set a record for Southeast Asia as a whole. And on May 26, 2010, the ancient city of Mohenjo-daro in Pakistan hit 53.5 degrees Celsius (128.3 degrees Fahrenheit)—a record not only for the country but for all of Asia. In fact, it was the fourth hottest temperature ever recorded anywhere.

The earth’s temperature is not only rising, it is rising at an increasing rate. From 1880 through 1970, the global average temperature increased roughly 0.03 degrees Celsius each decade. Since 1970, that pace has increased dramatically, to 0.13 degrees Celsius per decade. Two thirds of the increase of nearly 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in the global temperature since the 1880s has occurred in the last 40 years. And 9 of the 10 warmest years happened in the last decade.

Global temperature is influenced by a number of factors, some natural and some due to human activities. A phenomenon known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation is characterized by extremes in Pacific Ocean temperatures and shifts in atmospheric patterns. The cycle involves opposite phases, both of which have global impacts. The El Niño phase typically raises the global average temperature, while its counterpart, La Niña, tends to depress it. Temperature variations are also partly determined by solar cycles. Because we are close to a minimum in solar irradiance (how much energy the earth receives from the sun) and entered a La Niña episode in the second half of 2010, we would expect a cooler year than normal—making 2010’s record temperature even more remarkable.
Since the Industrial Revolution, emissions from human activities of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide have driven the earth’s climate system dangerously outside of its normal range. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have risen nearly 40 percent, from 280 parts per million (ppm) to almost 390 ppm. As the atmosphere becomes increasingly overloaded with heat-trapping gases, the earth’s temperature continues to rise.

Even seemingly small changes in global temperature have far-reaching effects on sea level, atmospheric circulation, and weather patterns around the globe. Climate scientists note that increases in both the frequency and severity of extreme weather events are characteristics of a hotter climate. In 2010, the heat wave in Russia, fires in Israel, flooding in Pakistan and Australia, landslides in China, record snowfall across the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, and 12 Atlantic Ocean hurricanes were among the extreme weather events. The human cost of these events was not small: the Russian heat wave and forest fires claimed 56,000 lives, while the Pakistan floods took 1,760.

Although the weather of 2010 seems extreme compared with that of earlier years, scientists warn that such patterns could become more common in the near future. And while no single event can be attributed directly to climate change, NASA climate scientist James Hansen notes that the extreme weather of 2010 would “almost certainly not” have occurred in the absence of excessive greenhouse gas emissions. Warmer air holds more water vapor, and that extra moisture leads to heavier storms. At the same time that precipitation events are becoming larger in some areas, climate change causes more intense and prolonged droughts in others. By some estimates, droughts could be up to 10 times as severe by the end of the century. Like a growing number of extreme weather events, an increase in the number of record-high temperatures—and a concomitant decrease in the number of record lows—is characteristic of a warming world. For instance, while 19 countries recorded record highs in 2010, not one witnessed a record low temperature. Across the United States, weather station data reveal that daily maximum temperature records outnumbered minimum temperature records for nine months of 2010. Over the last decade, record highs were more than twice as common as record lows, whereas half a century ago there was a roughly equal probability of experiencing either of these.

Temperatures are rising faster in some places than in others. The Arctic has warmed by as much as 3–4 degrees Celsius (5–7 degrees Fahrenheit) since the 1950s. It is heating up at twice the rate of the earth on average, making it the fastest-warming region on the planet. Disproportionately large warming in the Arctic is partially due to the albedo effect. As sea ice melts, darker ocean water is exposed; the additional energy absorbed by the darker surface then melts more ice, setting in motion a self-reinforcing feedback. 
In 2010, Arctic sea ice shrank to its third-lowest extent on record, after 2007 and 2008, and also reached what was likely its lowest volume in thousands of years. At both poles, the great ice sheets are showing worrying signs: recent calculations reveal that Greenland is losing more than 250 billion tons of water per year, and 87 percent of marine glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula have retreated since the 1940s. There is enough water frozen in Greenland and Antarctica to raise global sea levels by over 70 meters (230 feet) if they were to melt entirely.

Unless global temperatures are stabilized, higher seas from melting ice sheets and mountain glaciers, combined with the heat-driven expansion of ocean water itself, will eventually lead to the displacement of millions of people as low-lying coastal areas and island nations are inundated. Sea level rise has been minimal so far, with a global average of 17 centimeters (6 inches) during the last century. But the rate of the rise is accelerating, and some scientists maintain that a rise as high as 2 meters (6 feet) is possible before this century’s end.

It is not only coastal populations that are threatened by rising global temperatures. Higher temperatures reduce crop yields and water supplies, affecting food security worldwide. Agricultural scientists have drawn a correlation between a temperature rise of 1 degree Celsius above the optimum during the growing season and a grain yield decrease of 10 percent. Heat waves and droughts can also cause drastic cuts in harvests. Mountain glaciers, which are shrinking worldwide as a result of rising temperatures, supply drinking and irrigation water to much of the world’s population, including hundreds of millions in Asia. More than any natural variations, carbon emissions from human activities will determine the future trajectory of the earth’s temperature and thus the frequency of extreme weather events, the rise in sea level, and the state of food security. The 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projected that the earth would warm 1.1–6.4 degrees Celsius (2–11 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. Yet a rise of 2–3 degrees Celsius will make the earth as hot as it was 3 million years ago, when oceans were more than 25 meters (80 feet) higher than they are today. Subsequent research has projected an even larger rise—up to 7.4 degrees Celsius–-if the world continues to depend on a fossil-fuel-based energy system. But we can create a different future by turning to a new path—one with carbon-free energy sources, restructured transportation, and increased efficiency. By dramatically reducing emissions, we could halt the rapid rise of the earth’s temperature.

Copyright © 2011 Earth Policy Institute

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6. More About the Children’s Book With the Story “Chickenless Soup” Discussed in the Previous JVNA Newsletter

The name of the book is Where the Shouting Began

Forwarded message from author Steven Sher:

Dear Richard,

Thanks for the mention of the book in JVNA. People can order the book directly from the publisher, Montemayor Press, via montemayorpress.com or, if they are curious about my work, then they should check out my website (stevensher.net), which includes a couple of links to Montemayor Press. I appreciate it. My best, Steve

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7. Jewish Vegetarian Message Spreading in Spain

Forwarded message that was sent to me:

Thank you for a great resource site like this, I would like to share the information with the people of my havurah (it is a small non-denominational group in Barcelona, Spain), is it OK if we have your Online Course translated into Spanish and distributed among our members?

Best regards,


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8. America’s Dangerous Diet


In spite of all the recent efforts, people are eating less fits and vegetables and more meats than ever.

Thanks to author, educator and JVNA advisor Dan Brook for forwarding this link to us.

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