World leaders will produce lots of hot air at the COP21 summit in Paris, but nothing will change unless we all recognize the severity of the problem facing our planet.
David Miron-Wapner Nov 30, 2015

Europe is facing influx of hundreds of millions of refugees, Israeli professor warns
Israel gears up to forge renewable energy nation

The sparse crowd gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square last Friday protesting climate change showed that any hopes for a breakthrough international agreement are illusory.

Many argue that real change will only come after a massive uprising, with the public demanding a fundamental shift in the business-as-usual model. The weak turnout in Israel was typical of elsewhere. And in spite of the infectious enthusiasm of young local activists, it probably reflects more on Israelis’ preference for enjoying a sunny day at the beach than it does a general lack of consciousness and awareness to the acute nature of our greatest global challenge.

The new environmental protection minister, Avi Gabbay, assured the small crowd of the government’s commitment to being part of the solution. In reality, though, just like nearly every developed nation, the greenhouse-gas emission reduction targets that Israel submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the run-up to the current climate summit in Paris fall pitifully short of the concerted international action required to keep warming within a tolerable range this century.

Neither government, industry nor science has redressed the underlying spiritual crises of humanity’s detachment from the Earth. Imagining ourselves as separate from and outside the natural life-supporting systems that the Earth has developed over millennia leads us to a false sense of complacency that the future will always resemble the past. For sure, the climate has been comfortable and conducive to the flourishing of human civilization, but scientific evidence clearly shows that, over the past 250 million years, temperatures have never risen so much in so short a time. Only in the past century has mankind assumed the divine-like power to irrevocably alter the balance between our environment and our society and economy.
A group of people with placards and banners take part in a New York protest about climate change, November 29, 2015. The main banner says, “#Earth to Paris.”
People take part in a protest in New York about climate change, November 29, 2015.Reuters

In calling upon all people of faith to protect and guard our common home, Pope Francis shows us a path to a better, healthier future for humanity and all life, flora and fauna. Once, after the deluge in the story of Noah in the Bible, we were promised that God would never again destroy life on Earth. What wasn’t promised was that humanity wouldn’t destroy itself and the very basis for all life on this precious planet.

The COP21 climate summit in Paris is being attended by the leaders of 150 countries, along with 40,000 delegates from 195 countries, including your correspondent. Coming after years of hiding from the truth, this represents an opportunity for a historic reversal – turning away from life-destructive activities toward a unified and concerted effort to respect and embrace our collective responsibility to protect and be part of creation, and the creative spark that is the image of God within each of us.

The writer is the chairman of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development
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