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A Word from Rabbi Schulman - 6/2/17

In 2016, the Paris Agreement marked a turning point in the battle against climate change. 195 nations, including the United States, endorsed an effort to reduce global warming by creating an international network to lower carbon emissions. Donald Trump has described climate change as a “hoax.” Yesterday, President Trump announced that the United States was pulling out of the Paris Agreement, describing it as a bad deal for America. His action reminds me of the story of a group of people travelling in a boat. One of them took a drill and began to drill a hole beneath himself. His companions said to him: "Why are you doing this?" Replied the man: "What concern is it of yours? Am I not drilling under my own place?" Said they to him: "But you will flood the boat for us all!" (Midrash Rabbah, Vayikra 4:6). The moral of this story is clear: all of us on planet earth inhabit the same boat. The destructive action of one person, or one nation, may literally drown everyone onboard. I believe it is immoral for the United States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Torah teaches that God entrusts humanity to care for the earth, to guard our planet not only for ourselves but for future generations. I am fully convinced that climate change is real and endangers our world. Its effects are already impacting life on earth. The American Jewish World Service, which advocates for people in developing nations, has said such countries would bear the brunt of the severe storms, flooding, droughts and famine that a scientific consensus regards as the already apparent signs of the effects of man-made global warming. In the wake of the president’s action, Robert Bank, head of AJWS, stated, “We stand proudly as Jews who cherish the Earth. We object in the strongest terms to the President’s shortsighted and damaging decision. As American Jews, we will continue to raise our voices in solidarity with the people worldwide who have done the least to cause global warming but who suffer the most.” When it comes to life on earth, we are all in the same boat. We can shut ourselves in an ark and let the waters rise or we can commit ourselves to caring for all passengers on our beautiful ship as she floats through the heavens.

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