Sunday, April 24, 2016

Day 2 of the Omer and Creation

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen
And God said: ‘Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.’And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so.And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. --Gen. 1:6-8
The swallow-tailed kite, a raptor living in the southeastern US, is in decline (See the report in Nature Conservancy). As they work to protect these birds, researchers have discovered that:
...a new peril looms: salinity intrusion linked to climate change. As sea levels rise, ocean tides push the “salt wedge” farther inland. This is the zone where saltwater pushes upstream in a wedge under the freshwater flowing out to sea. 
As we know, excess carbon in the atmosphere is causing the level to rise; the degradation of the "firmament Heaven" is impacting "the waters," which in turn is impacting the kites, along with so many other living things.

So how to protect these birds? Conservationists are hard at work:
“Thousands of acres of protected kite nesting habitat will be the first to transition to brackish marsh,” Whitehead says. “To protect the future of kites, we’re prioritizing permanent protection of freshwater forested wetlands that are upstream of the advancing salt wedge.”
In other words, conservationists have to target and preserve areas the kites need before they actually need them, so that as the sea level rises, there will be protected areas where they can nest.

We may wonder, as the interplay between firmament and waters continues: What about humans?

Rabbi Katy Allen is a board certified chaplain and serves as an Eco-Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit. She is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long. She is the co-founder and President pro-tem of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network, and a hospice chaplain at CareGroup Parmenter Hospice. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in 2005. 


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