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Climate Change and Tornados

Climate Change and Tornados

350_org_a-s.jpgThis past week, Bill McKibben, founder of, released a powerful op-ed in the Washington Post. Titled "A link between climate change and Joplin tornadoes? Never!", the piece looks at the current weather patterns and, in a satirical way, challenges readers to consider the connection between the recent series of extreme weather events and climate change.

"Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections. When you see pictures of rubble like this week's shots from Joplin, Mo., you should not wonder: Is this somehow related to the tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, Ala., or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that (which, together, comprised the most active April for tornadoes in U.S. history). No, that doesn't mean a thing.

It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advisable to try to connect them in your mind with, say, the fires burning across Texas -- fires that have burned more of America at this point this year than any wildfires have in previous years. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they've ever been -- the drought is worse than that of the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if they're somehow connected."

You can also watch the video below that uses the text from the op-ed, but splices in some moving video and photos from these events.

We have a moral obligation to start confronting climate change for the sake of those whose lives have been devastated in all those events around the world. If you don't believe me, how about Barack Obama, Pope John Paul II, the Dalai Lama, and Ursula K. Le Guin? They all are featured in a new book called, Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril . For more information check out their website

As we learn from pirke avot, the teaching of our ancestors, "The day is short, the work is great. You are not expected to finish the work, but you are not free to desist." There is much work ahead to protect our planet, but we must begin the process.

This entry is part of our "Let's Get Sustainable" blog post series -
look for an environmentally themed post each week and learn more on our
Greening Reform Judaism web portal.

Published: 6/16/2011

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