For Immediate Release : November 15, 2023
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New U.S. government report says climate change is “unequivocally caused by greenhouse gas emissions from human activities,” and underscores the need for bold, systemic action.
A new U.S. climate report sounds an urgent alarm about the threats to humanity from “accelerating sea level rise, intensifying extreme weather, and other harmful climate impacts.” The Fifth National Climate Assessment, released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) on November 14, is the result of years of scientific study, involving 14 government agencies, hundreds of scientists, and feedback from communities across the country.
After a summer of extreme weather that brought the realities of the climate crisis to the doors of nearly every American household, the report is unsparing in chronicling how drastic changes to the climate “are leading to ripple effects across sectors and regions that multiply harms, with disproportionate effects on underserved and overburdened communities.”
Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action welcomes this rigorous report as a clarion call for American Jews to confront the full extent of the climate crisis and take bold political action for immediate, transformative change.
“The report states in no uncertain terms that the things Americans value most – our families, communities, and homes – our sacred places – are at risk,” says Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Dayenu’s Founder & CEO. “At night, Jews pray ‘Ufros aleinu sukkat shlomecha, spread over us a dwelling of Your peace.’ We must work to build a ‘sukkat shalom,’ a world that is no longer threatened by climate catastrophe and that is livable and sustainable for all people, for generations to come. We also must recognize that the climate crisis exacerbates historic inequities – in our country and around the world. We cannot stand by while destruction continues to unfold.”
The assessment offers analysis of how the climate crisis impacts water, food systems, energy supply, air quality, human health, and more. While it focuses on ten specific regions, the report stresses that the climate crisis is affecting all corners of the country. (For more information on regional impacts, please contact Dayenu.)
Top findings include:
- Extreme weather events and disasters are increasing in frequency, length, and severity (e.g., hurricanes, atmospheric rivers, tornadoes, droughts, wildfires).
- Our water supply is threatened by droughts and heat waves, saltwater invading aquifers as seas rise, floods spreading chemicals that pollute wells, lakes facing harmful algae blooms.
- Climate change exacerbates inequities. Communities that are already overburdened are at higher risk of negative impacts from climate change. For example, low-income communities and communities of color often lack access to safe housing, green spaces, and flood infrastructure – at the same time that they are more exposed to hazards.
- Our food system will be increasingly disrupted. Growing instabilities in food production and distribution will make food less available and more expensive. This will “disproportionately affect the nutrition and health of women, children, older adults, and low-wealth communities.”
- Climate change is primarily the result of emissions from burning fossil fuels, coal, oil, and gas. That means immediate action to transition to clean, renewable energy is both vital and far-sighted; “the benefits of deep emissions cuts for current and future generations are expected to far outweigh the costs.”
The report says clearly: “How much more the U.S. warms depends on choices made today,” and notes that actions to reduce emissions and slow climate change can result in “systemic, cascading benefits.” However, it also notes that most actions to date have been “incremental,” and we need more “transformative” changes.
Last year, after decades of mounting public pressure, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act – the first major piece of federal legislation to confront the climate crisis, and a catalyst for America’s rapid transition to clean energy. The Jewish community, led in large part by Dayenu, showed up with people, power, and spirit. The result of this collective effort was a commitment to $370 billion of investments in clean energy, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing electrification, and other climate solutions.
Dayenu just launched A Time to Build: Climate, Jobs, and Justice for All, a campaign to mobilize American Jews to call on policymakers to ensure that recent historic federal investments in clean, good jobs, and environmental justice reach every community – especially those that need it the most – without delay. The fossil fuel industry – along with the politicians who do its bidding – want climate funding to be on the chopping block.
“This report underscores our message to American Jews: Now is the time to stand up and demand that we invest in the livable future we so desperately need,” says Rabbi Rosenn.
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Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action aims to secure a just, livable, and sustainable world for all people for generations to come by building a multi-generational Jewish movement that confronts the climate crisis with spiritual audacity and bold political action.