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Most of all, we cannot afford more of the same timid politics when the future of our planet is at stake. Global warming is not a someday problem, it is now.
Yom Kippur ... The Day of Atonement. After the period of reflection and engagement with others between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, this is a moment to turn to internal considerations and the relationship between the individual and G-d.

As part of the prayers for the Day of Atonement, the Vidui, the Al Cheyt or recital of sins, is perhaps the most important. (Modern Judaism being what it is, there are a myriad of translations and modern variations on the Vidui/Al Chet.) A key word: Ashamnu ... "we have sinned" is a recognition of individual and communal failures. The Al Cheyt is a recognition and statement about sins by ourselves (and our community) against others, against oneself, against G-d through action ... and inaction.

It is clear: one can do wrong through action and words ... and one can do wrong through inaction and silence.

And, there is a silence that bears heavily on the heart at this time: the silence in our political leadership and among too many of us on the damage we are doing to the planetary system, the risks of climate change, and the urgent necessity for meaningful change to change our path toward something that enables sustainable prosperity for humanity.

From a Yom Kippur sermon leading into a Viddui recitation,

This is Yom Kippur.  This is a night for confession.  So let us be honest.  If ever there was a time for candor, this is it.  We humans are not good with limits.  We are pushing the planet and its animal resources to the limit.  We want what we want when we want it.  We pretty much take, hunt, fish, and consume until someone or something stops us or until there is no more to be taken.

Do you remember the Viddui we will be reciting in a few minutes?  It’s the Confession prayer that lists our sins alphabetically.


We abuse.  We besmirch. We consume.  We destroy.  We excuse ourselves.  We forget the consequences of our actions.  We are greedy.

I could continue through the alphabet, and I should go on because, as the saying goes, although religion ought to comfort the afflicted, religion also needs to afflict the comfortable.  And we truly do need to be uncomfortable tonight.  Remember an alternate name for Yom Kippur is Yom Ha-Din…the Day of Judgment.  This night is meant to be a time for severity.

"a time of severity".  We are living in a time of consequences, a time where humanity's future (and our own, unless you are on your deathbed, futures) require confronting Inconvenient Truth, and acting in this regard.

The individual matters and we need, for Yom Kippur, to judge ourselves with "severity" -- to push our own comfortable ways as to whether we 'sin' and damage and harm unknowingly or knowingly.

We, however, live within a society. And, while each of us has a voice and role in that society, there are leaders.  And, we expect leaders to show leadership.  Truthfully, there is no such thing as that perfect person (take a look and reflect on the Al Cheyt) nor is there such a thing as a perfect leader.  But, we should recognize our own faults and seek to change our patterns. And, we should look to our leaders' faults and seek to help them change for the better.

Most of all, we cannot afford more of the same timid politics when the future of our planet is at stake. Global warming is not a someday problem, it is now.
Who said this? Senator Barack Obama in 2007.

Where, however, is President Barack Obama and Presidential-candidate Barack Obama in 2012?

There is no question that President Barack Obama is better on environmental and climate issues than a tea-party ruled Mitt Romney conceivably could be.   However, this is an incredibly low bar of judgment.

Even though climate change is an arena of incredibly stark differentiation between the parties (and candidates); even though President Obama's one-liner about climate change was one of the best received lines during his DNC speech; even though "the future of our planet is at stake", the silence about climate change from Presidential candidate Barack Obama and Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden is simply deafening.

We sin ... we do wrong through action and words.  We sin, we do wrong through inaction and silence.

It is past time to end the climate silence.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If Obama's winning without sayng anything (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mother Shipper

    why would he ever change?

  •  Natl. Academy of Sciences Climate Change Video (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Share it widely:

    It's about the science of climate change.

  •  Bless your heart (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    too many people

    unfortunately neither party is going there (climate change) past some blah blah blah IF a question is asked in the debates.  If either candidate couldn't make some remark on the lowest recorded sea ice extent in the Arctic, or the record heat and drought in the midsection of the country, or any of the other extreme events that have riddled this country in the last 5 or so years, then they are going to play climate change close to the vest.  I guess both candidates think they have plenty of time to deal with climate change after the election; certainly nothing is going to get done before the election.  Whether or not they actually DO something afterwards is the question.

    •  Romney won't (0+ / 0-)

      And the most probable Obama action is what he did the first term; pretty much nothing.

      •  He couldn't do much more than he (0+ / 0-)

        did this term. If nothing means the highest auto mileage standards ever and annual 25%+ growth in the solar industry, then he did nothing. But in a second term he will have a better economy with which to work, and a populace that has started to see the impact of warming. I think he'll get the ball rolling.

        •  There are notable achievements ... (0+ / 0-)

          but, well, the "couldn't do much more than he did this term" isn't true.

          And, in addition to mileage standards, a strengthened set of Executive Orders that have driven sustainability planning in Departments, fostered more aggressive energy efficiency, etc ...

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 08:38:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  It's up to US, not the politicians n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    too many people
  •  Thank you for this important diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    How can we get humans to change their consumptive ways? Our footprint, carbon or otherwise, is a moral issue. Our current course is wrong. If we don't try to change direction, we are morally culpable. Just as we would ridicule someone who shits in our house, we should shame those that shit all over the planet. I really can't think of anything more important than preserving Earth.

    And yes, we are sinning everyday, for we are the problem, unless we strive to do all we can to change course.

    Sadly, I think we have already begun our descent off the climate cliff. Nevertheless, we must do all we can to soften the landing.

    There is only one planet suitable for human habitation in our solar system.

    by too many people on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 03:23:48 PM PDT

  •  I recently attended a lecture by former ARPA-e (0+ / 0-)

    director Arun Majumdar at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment - he and Steven Chu just published a paper together entitled "Opportunities and challenges for a sustainable energy future" in Nature.  (August 2012).

    (It was, by far, the best lecture I've seen among those I've attended at the Andlinger center.)

    The person who introduced Dr. Majumdar was none other than Robert Socolow, of "wedgies" fame.

    Lots of good the "wedgies" did for us.   The slope of the line at Muana Loa is unchanged.

    You will not find a person who knows more in a wide general sense than Dr. Majumdar, who is an affable but still brilliant man broadly informed, highly knowledgable.

    Now ARPA-e has a very broad "shot gun" approach to energy technology and development.     That is not, by the way, an approach of which I approve, because I am convinced that all the "feel good" rhetoric in the world will not change the laws of thermodynamics, either in physics nor in chemistry.

    I am well known for insisting that nuclear energy is the only form of energy that is sufficiently clean, sufficiently scalable, sufficiently sustainable and suffiently safe to address the dire situation we are now experiencing.   While Drs. Chu and Majumdar are strong supporters of nuclear energy, they certainly wouldn't hold to my view.

    But my reservations aside, the mere fact that ARPA-e exists shows that the President and the administration don't necessarily have to talk the talk to walk the walk.

    I'm an atheist.    I don't have "Days of Atonement" nor do I have confessions or any theology based means of addressing my many moral failings.

    But I would submit that among those who claim to give a rat's ass about climate change - and here I would include big heros like say, the marginally sentient Joe Romm for instance - there is a lot of religious thinking and chanting.

    For instance, hundreds of billions of euros, dollars, yen and yuan have been thrown down the solar energy rabbit hole.

    And still - in late 2012, after 50 years of cheering - people are still talking about how solar energy might be cost competitive someday if we develop this, or if we develop that, blah, blah, blah.

    The average continuous power output of all the solar energy facilities on earth in 2010 produced 27.918 billion kwh of electricity.

    This about 0.1 exajoules on a planet where 520 exajoules are consumed each year - under conditions in which nearly half of humanity is without basic sanitation.

    The average continuous power output of all the solar facilities on the entire planet is about 3200 MW, which means that 3 average sized nuclear plants could easily, more reliably and more cleanly produce more energy than all the planets solar facilities combined.

    So why all the - among similar things - do we have all the "solar will save us" rhetoric?

    The experiment has been tried, an expensive experiment.    It didn't work.   Why must we do it over and over and over and over again?

    Because we didn't like the answer the expensive experiment returned?

    Could the issue be, in fact, something very much like religious dogma and chanting?  

    Even I, up until a few years ago, felt I needed to genuflect in the direction of this awful ineffective Sun God whenever I sought to speak what is - to me at least - an obvious and incontrovertible truth, that nuclear energy is not and cannot be perfect, but with all of its imperfections is vastly superior to every thing else.

    In April of 2012, this year we had the second largest annual April to April increase in dangerous fossil fuel waste concentrations in the planetary atmosphere.

    The same month a prominent Asian nation closed all of its nuclear plants not because a 9.0 earthquake and series of 15 meter tsunamis caused even one radiation death, but because a bunch of loud mouthed morons kept blabbing and babbling insipidly that someone might die, not that this same set raises even a whimper about the 3.3 million people who die each year from air pollution.

    Speaking only for myself, I would find it very difficult to be President of such a rabble.

    This is not the fault of the President that if he has spoken, has only spoken softly.  As indicated by the ARPA-e case, he has tried, maybe, to carry a big stick, but it's not his fault that the only sticks left to carry seem to be no larger than a blade of switchgrass.

    Rather the fault lies will all humanity, the saved and unsaved, gentile and Jew, Hindu, Muslim, atheist, Deist, Agnostic, alike.

    In any case, the matter is decided.   There is no escape from what we have wrought.   No amount of prayer will bring back the rain, nor the glaciers, the dead and burned forests, etc.   The time to quit smoking is not just before the removal of a cancerous lung, just as the time to lead a decent and ethical life is not on one's death bed.

    Rather than appealing to any metaphysics, we should look at real physics, in which physical acts have physical outcomes.

    There is no point caterwauling against the President.    He has done more than almost every other politician on earth,  certainly more than that "Green" gas bag Gerhard Schroeder certainly who were he a doctor would have violated the first part of the Hippocratic oath - "First do no harm."

    I really have nothing soothing to say, but the glimpse of Dr. Majumdar - the mere fact that he was compelled to drop his normal life, along with Dr. Chu - and serve in government (shades of Glenn Seaborg) - gives me some insight to what might have been, were humanity invested in something other than fear, ignorance and superstition.

    The fact is that Dr. Seaborg's most important legacy to this country is being shat upon by mental lilliputians very much invested in rote dogmatic chanting about solar and wind, chanting that has gone on so long - decade after decade - that it can only now be deemed conservative.   For the people of whom I speak, their rhetoric would be no more effective - although probably less expensive - if they sat around chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

    Look more carefully at the President before criticizing him for not saying what you would say were you the nominee for President.      You will probably not see better in your lifetime than Barack Obama again for bringing science to the conversation.   But the fact is that he can do little, because at this point little or nothing is, in fact, possible.   Anything the President can do or will do will be, by definition, too little too late.

    Have a nice week.

    •  So much there ... (0+ / 0-)

      however, I will constrain to comments about ARPA-E.  For example, written in early '11:

      Without exception, every person associated with ARPA-E has impressed me.  These are highly (extremely) competent and qualified people who, to a great extent, have given up more lucrative positions to give time in public service. These are very top-notch people who are serving a mission that they believe in.
      And, elsewhere, I've commented that ARPA-E's biggest problem is $400 million/year in funding rather than $4 billion (or more?).

      On the other hand, whether it be solely nuclear power or a broader-based portfolio of low carbon energy (including EE) plus other societal changes, does open political leadership discussion enhance or undermine the chance for any serious changes for the better?  My answer to that question is obvious. Yours?

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 08:34:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I actually don't care about the "answer" to... (0+ / 0-)

        ...the question.

        My point is that I don't believe that there are any "serious" changes that are possible.

        The "serious" option was discussed by people like Seaborg back in the 1950's, the 1960's, and 1980's.

        There is a famous 1950's speech by Rickover on the "options" and they are no different in 2012 then they were when he made them.

        "Energy resources and our future" - remarks by Admiral Hyman Rickover delivered in 1957

        Surely you're aware of it.

        As far as I'm concerned a "serious" conversation is impossible.     Indeed, your comment suggests that you are unwilling to take what I regard as an obvious truth as "unserious."

        So be it.  

        I stand by my contention that nuclear energy wasonly viable option, but it was the road not taken, largely because of semi-literate assholes talking about the roads not taken while being funded by every major polluting corporation on the planet.

         Famous Anti-nuke Amory Lovins describes his revenue sources:

        Mr. Lovins’s other clients have included Accenture, Allstate, AMD, Anglo American, Anheuser-Busch, Bank of America, Baxter, Borg-Warner, BP, HP Bulmer, Carrier, Chevron, Ciba-Geigy, CLSA, ConocoPhillips, Corning, Dow, Equitable, GM, HP, Invensys, Lockheed Martin, Mitsubishi, Monsanto, Motorola, Norsk Hydro, Petrobras, Prudential, Rio Tinto, Royal Dutch/Shell, Shearson Lehman Amex, STMicroelectronics, Sun Oil, Suncor, Texas Instruments, UBS, Unilever, Westinghouse, Xerox, major developers, and over 100 energy utilities. His public-sector clients have included the OECD, the UN, and RFF; the Australian, Canadian, Dutch, German, and Italian governments; 13 states; Congress, and the U.S. Energy and Defense Departments.

        Lovins and his ilk have what they wanted and what their clients paid them for.

        We are going see 400 ppm in October in the next one or two years.

        It's done.

  •  A worthy d'var (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks, Adam.  I thought of this a lot today, reflecting in synagogue on not just my own transgressions, but our collective ones.

    “Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.” -- FDR, 1936

    by SolarMom on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 09:50:36 PM PDT

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