Friday, April 18, 2014

Day Four: Netzach b’Chesed

Netzach: endurance and decisiveness generating loyalty

Midrash: Mekhilta de Rabbi Yishmael
(translation by David Stern, JPS publication, 1993, pp 155-156)

When the Israelites stood at the sea, one said: “I do not want to go down to the sea first,” and the other also said: “I do not want to go down to the sea first,” as it is said (Hosea 12:1): “Ephraim compasseth Me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit.”  While they were standing there deliberating, Nahshon ben Amminadab jumped up first and went down to the sea and fell into the waves. Of him (Nahshon) it is said: “Save me, O God; for the waters are come in even unto the soul (neck); I am sunk in deep mire and where there is no standing; I am come into deep waters, and the flood overwhelmth me.” (Psalm 69:2-3)

Question: What makes Nahshon a leader in this story? How does the midrash teach he was willing to take risks? Why do you think he was able to act decisively?  What enabled him to endure until the waters receded and Israel could pass through?

Climate Change: long term CO
2 impacts
The carbon dioxide we emit today endures in the atmosphere between 50 to 200 years, and thus contributes to global warming for a long time, even after we stop emitting. Other atmospheric greenhouse gases last a shorter time but are more powerful at warming the planet. However, climate change action focuses on carbon dioxide because the sheer volume of CO
2 emitted is enormous compared to the volume of other gases emitted.

What does the long endurance of CO
2 in the atmosphere have to do with oceans?

CO2stays in the atmosphere until it is absorbed by the oceans or used by trees as they grow. The amount of CO
2 that is “sunk” in tree growth is only temporary (until the tree decays or is burned). The CO2 absorbed by the ocean fills the upper layers of the ocean but it takes a long time for it to be permanently “sunk” in ocean beds.
Because of the long lasting nature of CO
2 emissions, they will cause more warming than we see now,  working like delayed action capsules. Some projections estimate that by 2050 atmospheric CO2 will reach 600 ppm and by 2100 it will hit 950 ppm, even though scientists warn that 350 ppm is probably the safest upper limit for atmospheric CO2.
Action: Senator Whitehouse has made weekly speeches on climate change for a year. Listen to his 1/7/14 speech dealing with harm to the Oceans, 


and also watch his fiftieth weekly speech marking one year of making speeches on climate change from the floor of the Senate. 
Send Senator Whitehouse a thank you note for his decisive and enduring actions to save the world. Send a copy to your Senators asking them to work with him to make decisive climate action happen.

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