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Al Gore, Our Modern Day Noah

Last Shabbat we read about how God commanded Noah to collect an ark load of the Earth’s biodiversity and ride out the mother of all storms, which cleansed the earth. When Noah and his family finally emerged from the ark to a fresh new world, God makes a covenant with them and seals it with a rainbow.
This covenant is often misunderstood as a promise that God will never again destroy the earth and all that lives upon it. But if you read the text carefully two things become clear: First, The Bible states that God promised never to destroy the Earth again. God never says God will stop others from destroying the Earth.

Second: The Bible does not use the word for promise (oath in Biblical parlance) but rather the word for covenant, brit in Hebrew. (It is the same word found in the term brit milah, one symbol of the covenant between God and the Jewish people through ritual circumcision.) A brit is an eternal contract between two partners, here between God and Noah, and by extension, between God and all of humanity. Each partner has obligations that are part of upholding the covenant. In this case, God’s promise not to destroy the Earth and all within it is dependent upon humanity’s similar commitment not to destroy the Earth.
Any number of indicators tell us that we are falling down on our part of the bargain: Glaciers are melting; animals are retreating north due to habitat loss; storms are becoming dangerously more extreme. The earth may be in danger of being destroyed, not by God, but by us.
Our Rabbis ask: Why did God tell Noah to build an ark, which took time and effort to build, rather than just out and out save Noah, his family and the animals? They answer that God wanted to warn humanity and give people a chance to change their ways–in other words, the flood was not inevitable and could have been averted through consistent communal change. The same is true for us as well.
An Inconvenient Truth is just one of the many ways we can learn more about the crises confronting us and what we can do about it. In a way, Former Vice President Al Gore, who just won a much deserved Nobel Peace Prize, is our modern day Noah, warning us of our impending doom and giving us a chance to avoid it by changing our ways.
How long will it take for us to make all our synagogues and Jewish institutions green? How long will it take for us to become energy and resource thrifty in our homes and personal lives, and mobilize our entire nation’s corporate ingenuity to make conservation an essential part of our national interest (much like recycling and victory gardens were in World War II)? We must also ask ourselves, “Will it take too long?”
While we might not have the clout or connections of Former Vice President Al Gore, we certainly can do (and hopefully will do) our part, for the future of the world is literally in our hands.

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Milton Fried, MD

posted October 16, 2007 at 8:01 pm

There is no consensus among climate scientists that the current cycle of earth’s warming is caused by mankinds industrial practices. Al Gore is not a Noah, he is more like a “Chicken Little”, shouting to all the chickens that the sky is falling.
Gore’s real goal is to change the USA into a socialist country ruled by the United Nations. Fanning fear of immanent climate disaster and a need to have the Federal Government step in, take over, and regulate everything on an emergency basis as during WWII is Gore’s clearly stated goal for our immediate and extended future.
It is unfortunate that Reform Judaism Rabbis frequently confuse Judaism with every extreme left wing agenda of the moment.

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Tom Immermann

posted October 17, 2007 at 1:04 pm

The Comment posted by Dr. Milton Fried on Oct.16,2007 says it all so accurately and completely in such an eleganty simple,direct,and uncomplicated way that no further topical commentary is really necessary. I would add only that a careful and truly unbiased, objective, and cooly dispassionate, objective viewing of Gore’s pseudo-documentary openly exposes his Narcissism rather than what a great Environmentalist he is: in between the pseudo- and quasi-scientific piece-meal offerings of very questionable data going back only a few centuries or a few hundred thousand years, are foisted upon us the sappy personal meditations characteristic of the self-tortured,guilt-ridden extreme Liberal-Left political soul. Gore’s flimsy film is about Gore, and what’s scary is that it is fooling a lot of good-hearted, well-meaning people. A modern Noah? More like a False Shepherd for Foolish Sheep!

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Jack Crespin

posted October 17, 2007 at 1:35 pm

What nonsense has been posted above. Gentleman your prejudices are showing. First of all, global warming is not a left/right issue restricted to American politics. It is a global issue and an overwhelming majority of scientists agree that this problem poses an imminent danger. I am not a liberal, but an independent populist. I feel no guilt about the former status of women, blacks or other minorities and support strict border security. No North American Union for me. However I do read and I was convinced of the reality of global warming well before an “Inconvenient Truth.”
However, the earth is not going anywhere. It will continue to circle the sun until that star goes nova. Where humanity is going at the moment is a social problem and thus in the hands of humanity and in the hands of relgious leaders to try to solve. Unfortunately David Rockefellar, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, to name a few, have far more influence on humanities current course than the entire Jewish rabbinate, such intellectual lightweights as George Bush and Hillary Clinton, and the entire UN organization.
You gentleman should read Jared Diamonds “Collaspe.” He is a respected scientist and while he does not posit any “chickem little” scenarios, he gives apt of examples of how some cultures heeded environmental warnings, adapted and survived and how others did not and disappeared. Among the symptons of collaspe are the loss of respect for the authority of the ruling elite and its religious ethic. If the Gods or G-d do not seem to provivde, then the people will adopt new ones!

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Chaya Long

posted October 17, 2007 at 6:50 pm

Like it or not, global warming has become politicized. Like it or not, climate is changing. And that has nothing to do with right/left, Dem/Rep politics. Global climate change is well documented, but at the rate it’s changing now? I say we need to stop arguing about it and do something about it. What’s the big problem with “going green”? What’s the big problem with cleaning up the air we breathe? What’s the big problem with maintaining forests? Why not just do it, whether or not it will change the rate of global warming? It’s healthier. What’s the problem with that?

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posted October 17, 2007 at 8:54 pm

First ,I believe it says G-d will never again destroy… the “entire earth” with “water”. Doesn’t exclude fire,volcano,earthquake,meteror,drought,plant or animal extenstinction or climate change, ect.IF.. he chose to. Second, that states what HE WILL DO , not what WE MAY DO. After all he gave us free will do good as well as bad. Third, No one can say that this is not a normal cyclical plantary change (like it or not) Look at the ice age,disaperance of the dinosaurs. We have only been here a speck of the life time of the planets exhistance, and out of that only been able to study this phenonome for part of that time.How many of you remember the 60″s global cooling predictions by Notable scientists and the govt.?Yes we forget so quickly. It’s like skirt hems in history, they go up and then a decade or two latter they come down. Ever figure may be it’s G-d”s way of balancing nature…. kinda like the waves on the shore every few seconds .. in and then out … and in a bigger way the tide.. high and then hours later low .To see this tho you must live in and be able to observe the entire phenonom from begining to end, whether it is minutes, hours or thousands of years! I agree with the first two gentlemen. I also think Al Gore just decided to jump on to a controversal theory and gain some popularity and a lot of money. His own personal life does NOT reflect his beliefs: He does NOT dry his laundry on a clothes line out side,Nor wear NON drycleanable clothing,I’m sure they are air conditioning a house that is WAY TOO BIG for the two of them(plus the maid),do you think since it’s only him and his wife they wait to run the dishwasher a few days till it’s full?,do they walk /bike to where they need to go localy? he flies around the country in a model of private jet that is by goverment ratings one of the most NON fuel effecent models ,while he rides around in a NON fuel effecent huge limo,I don’t know but some how I doubt that him and his wife both drive small Toyota Prius’s. Chicken little rides again! For thoes of you who do not die of fright give it 20-30 years and it will be a whole new story/theory.

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posted October 18, 2007 at 6:19 pm

Just think, in the 70’s we were afraid of global cooling and the potential of another ice age. That is the same decade Mr. Gore began his political career.
Al Gore is a hypocrite along with much of Hollywood who like to tell us how we should live our lives. Their philosophy is: Do as I say, not as I do because I’m rich and famous.
It’s a shame the Nobel Peace Prize has become a political tool. That should be obvious even to the most naive among us. If Jimmy Carter and Yassar Arafat could win, why would anyone be surprised that Al Gore has? It is yet another opportunity for taking a jab at the United States.
Speaking of being surprised as well as referring to Dr. Milton Fried’s comment about Reform rabbis, is it any wonder that more Jews are turning to Orthodoxy?

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Jack Crespin

posted October 19, 2007 at 7:26 am

Here is one Jew that is not turning to Orthodoxy. Why should I bury my head in the sand and wish to return to the Middle Ages. Much has changed since then including a great deal of wisdom added to or at least made available to the human mind. Einstein was not an orthodox Jew, but he did believe in G-d. Buddha was a gentile, but a wise man. Lao-Tze and the followers of Taoism can teach us a thing or two.
My faith began to be shaken when as a 10 year old, I began to question authority and while my Jewish rabbis and my parents gave me incomplete answers which denied or ignored the findings of modern science, as several of the commentators do above, my fifth grade public school teacher gave me answers that satisfied my curiosity and lead to me respect the solid methodology of science, which supports the concept of global warning, and to be critical of prejudicial statements often spouted by politicians and by people who consider themselves holier than thou or at least me. If that makes me a despised secular humanist in the eyes of this forum than so be it.
As for science’s “reversal” re global cooling/global warming, the scientific methodology is such that new evidence equals new conclusions. Right now science is issuing us a warning based on solid evidence. It is up to the rest of humanity to decide how to interpret it, using reason, a key component of Jewish thinking, and not prejudicial arguments. Remember that science has given us the technologies that made the twentieth century a transformative century. We have been warned about many environmental problems since the mid-twentieth century and most scientists believe that we need to rethink our own lifestyles and the way the global economy is organized. How long do you people think that we can afford to ignore the warnings of our brightest people?

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Jack Crespin

posted October 19, 2007 at 7:43 am

Also about the 70’s. As an engineering student I was taken on a field trip to a power plant in Ravenswood in New York City, in 1968. I was told that the pollution spewing from the smokestacks was an “economy haze,” meaning that Con Edison made more money by polluting the atmosphere with sulfer dioxide, nitrous oxide, fly ash and carbon monoxide and dioxide than by being environmentally conscientious. No wonder, my car parked at home, ten miles away was constantly covered in soot. Today we know better and Con Ed and other power plant operators were required to clean up their act.
Yes the 70’s were a cooler decade that the three that have followed, but records of global temperature show a definite and extreme warming trend. The conclusion that the planet is irreversibly warming up and will continue to do so for decades, if not centuries, is based on solid data and not on mere ancedotal evidence.

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posted October 21, 2007 at 9:23 pm

Um, sorry sir, but Noah had a conversation with the God of the universe. Gore is dealing with Gaia. An altogether different deity than the One that gave orders to Noah.

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posted October 22, 2007 at 1:37 pm

From the posts above, Karma dictates that Milton’s, Tom’s and Donny’s towns be among the first ones to disappear under the rising oceans.
Let’s see how long the free market economy lasts under 45 feet of seawater.

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posted October 23, 2007 at 2:59 pm

1/ I thought Gore was an atheist (The Assault on Reason). Was Noah?
2/ ‘Karma dictates’? Well environmentalism has much to do weith Eastern religions and not Judaism
3/ I don’t travel in private planes or have multiple homes or even one huge home. Better babble to the wealthy environmentalists first.

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posted October 23, 2007 at 10:21 pm

Right – because somehow the fact that some rich white man rides in a plane means the climate isn’t changing.
I’m sure the millions along the coasts will be jeering right along with you when they’re under trillions of gallons of seawater.
Good luck with that!

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