Noah’s dove and interfaith climate action

Rabbi Steve Gutow, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, reflects on the People’s Climate March and interfaith cooperation acting as Noah’s dove:

In Genesis chapter 8, we read that when the dove returned to Noah with an olive leaf in its mouth, Noah knew that the waters had receded, and that the world had been saved from destruction. This change in climate represented a movement toward life, to salvation and a new start for earth’s population.

Today, however, climate changes mean just the opposite. Today, they are indications that we’re destroying our world with rising seas that are devastating coastal communities and severe weather that is jeopardizing food crops and human health. We see it all around us. The Audubon Society reported earlier this month that 314 bird species alone are at risk from global warming, with 126 of them classified as climate endangered. In the past century, the average temperature increased by 1.4 degrees, with the years 2000-2010 marking the warmest ever recorded, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Glaciers are disappearing — I saw that firsthand when I visited Alaska a few years ago, kayaking on the Inside Passage.

The seas are rising, the temperature becoming warmer and weather patterns so unpredictable that summers and winters are blending together, becoming less definable. Meanwhile, we continue to emit an increasing number of carbon particles, infiltrating and polluting our air — exacerbating in particular asthma in children in urban areas…

When Sunday’s marchers demand that world leaders heed the cries of those of us who want the world to continue to prosper, our shouts will come in a plethora of languages and from a myriad of spiritual traditions. Let us, this week and in the future, raise our voices in whichever languages we can and ask that the Maker of the Universe hear us and help us find the solution that will keep this planet whole and fertile. Let us act as the dove at the end of the Noah story, as messengers from the sky, whose words move history and humanity from inaction and disaster to a rainbow of security and holiness.

For the full reflection, please visit the Huffington Post here.

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