Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What does Climate Change have to do with Purim, Passover, and Yom Hashoa?

President Trump has proclaimed that climate change is a Chinese hoax.  The newly confirmed director of the E.P.A., Scott Pruitt, is a climate change skeptic and has begun to stack the E.PA. with fellow skeptics. Nevertheless, facts on the ground don’t change when an administration changes. 2014 was the warmest year on record until 2015 broke it.  2016 broke 2015’s record and it looks like 2017 will the hottest year on record.  The overwhelming majority of scientist disagree with climate change skeptics.  A survey found 97% of scientist agreed that global temperatures have increased during the past 100 years; 84% say they personally believe human-induced warming is occurring, and 74% agree that "currently available scientific evidence" substantiates its occurrence

Climate change is also impacting us here in Queens. Last October Marathon JCC planted 360 daffodil bulbs around our Holocaust Memorial Garden.  Those yellow were supposed to bloom by Yom Hashoa to remind us of the yellow badges the Germans made the Jews wear. As I write this blog, Purim is still 5 days away and the green shoots have broken through the soil and are 3 inches tall. The weather has been crazy.  The temps have reached the 60s and even once in the low 70s and has dropped as low as 19 degrees.  Snow has been forecasted for this Friday. I worried that the cold weather would kill our flowers.  We learned though our bulbs will be all right as long as they don’t flower.

I’ve been thinking how will climate change causing earlier and earlier springs effect Passover? As you well know that Passover is the holiday of spring time. On the seder plate, we place parsley or some other greens to symbolize spring.  Did you know that there is a special one-time-a-year blessing recited in the month of Nisan?  When we see buds flowering for the first time in the spring, we recite: “Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the universe who has withheld nothing from his world, and has created in it beautiful creatures and trees for human beings to enjoy.” (See page 223 in the Weekday Siddur Sim Shalom) Erica Brown in her Haggada, Seder Talk: The Conversational Haggada writes:  “The season of spring reminds us that just as nature renews itself, so does humanity.”

I’m worried with climate change nature may not be able to renew itself. The study, published in Environmental Research Letters, looked at the onset of spring and the flower blooms and leaf bursts that come along with it. springs will arrive on average 23 days earlier in the 2100.
“Our projections show that winter will be shorter — which sounds great for those of us in Wisconsin” lead author Andrew Allstadt said. “But long distance migratory birds, for example, time their migration based on day length in their winter range. They may arrive in their breeding ground to find that the plant resources that they require are already gone.”
Any increase in false springs is bad news for the environment and for some businesses, the researchers note.
“Sub-freezing temperatures after spring onset can damage vulnerable plant tissue, and reproductive growth stages later in spring typically make plants more susceptible to damage from cold,” the researchers write. “Damage due to false springs is often observed in natural systems, and lost plant productivity can negatively impact dependent animal populations. False springs can also strongly affect agricultural systems. For example, the false spring of 2012 caused $500 million in damages to fruit and vegetables in Michigan.[1]
There could also be miss-matched timing between bees and other pollinators and flowers disrupting pollination which are food supplies depend upon.
The conclusion is clear. If we want to celebrate Passover as our holiday of springtime, we need to take care of our environment. Not only does our renewal depend upon it, our very lives are at stake