Just Voices #11, October 2016 – Climate Change

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Bonnie Monteleone, “What Goes Around, Comes Around”, 2016 (from the Plastic Ocean Project)

As we experience climate change – some more than others, it is often with numbers that we get a sense of its scale: over half of the earth’s surface poses critical danger to biodiversity; last June was the hottest on record, being the 14th month in a marathon of record breaking temperatures. We were disgusted when the Australian Government – concerned over tourism– censored UNESCO’s report on coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef (as well as damage to the Tasmanian wilderness and Kakadu). Whether governments, industries and agribusiness take responsibility or not, we’ll continue to see surface water levels dropping worldwide, heatwaves becoming more frequent and intense, and flooding and bush fires worsen.

When prompted to discuss climate change, some within our ranks ask why this is relevant to the AJDS. Well, not only is the environment a primary necessity for any type of activism on a basic physical level, climate change will continue to manifest in human societies along socio-economic and political lines. Developing countries will suffer the consequences of rising water levels and pollution first, while Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders will be disproportionately affected by climate change here. Traditional owners of this land and their intrinsic knowledge of natural systems must be involved in the solution, but we suspect they won’t be without further action.

Societal collapse borne of increasingly uninhabitable conditions will create more refugees, and their reception (or rejection) will rely on the rank politics of nationalism and racism. It is also no secret that many companies, including the Jewish National Fund, operate under the guise of environmentalist organisations, the JNF is in fact an agent of environmental, as well as cultural, devastation (read more at whatsbehindjnf.org.au). Water shortages in the Middle East have played an important role in the ongoing conflict there, and this problem will not be going away. Global climate change requires both global and local action.

We embrace Jewish teachings borne of Biblical and Talmudic teachings that encourage cultivating and safeguarding our environment for future generations. But another uniting premise for the action taken by AJDS members has always been to advocate for social justice, and there can be no such justice without clean water and air, and sustainable practices.

Our organisation considers climate change and the environment as one of our core issues for all of these reasons. This issue of Just Voices captures the links between social justice activism and progressive environmentalism.

What you can do:

  • Write to your local representative to ask what is being done in your area to reduce waste and support green businesses, ask as well what poisons are currently being used by the local council, and why.
  • If you are a home owner, install solar panels.
  • Divest from funds that profit from fossil fuels.
  • Consume less meat, eggs and dairy.
  • Consider boycotting companies with poor environmental records, like BP and Nestlé.
  • Show this to a climate change sceptic.
  • Become a Healthy Futures Hero.

Also, read our Environment campaign page. Send me your thoughts and comments: editor@ajds.org.au.

Keren Rubinstein, AJDS Content Editor