The Natural Step
"The non-sustainable path of society is not about some natural catastrophe that we need to tackle. It's about human desires and curiosity and wittiness and the decisions that lie behind our non-sustainable development..." ( The Natural Step Story).
This is why BJEN and the Jewish community and the entire religious world need to get behind the sustainability movement. We live in a world of limited resources and capacity but with a human appetite that is expansive and infinite. That is the human blessing. And if not well-guided, that will be our curse. How we reconcile these two conflicting elements of life is a spiritual question. What, or when, is enough? How do we get beyond stuffness to satisfaction? What is our rightful place on this earth? To what extent do we have rights to the earth's resources? In how long a time horizon do we measure satisfaction, reciprocity and compensation?
Judaism, as all religious traditions, seeks to help us answer these questions. Ultimately, their answers determine our behavior. It is not as if we have no current environmental ethic. We do. We may not have named it yet, and we may not like it when we do. But we live one. The question is: is it the one we are proud of?
Meanwhile, in the world of litigation and EPA, the 11/14 Grist.org reports:
In a major win for environmentalists, the U.S. EPA's Environmental Appeals Board handed down a landmark decision on Thursday that essentially puts a freeze on the construction of as many as 100 new coal-fired power plants around the U.S.
It will now be up to the Obama administration to develop rules on carbon dioxide emissions from such plants.
In July 2007, the EPA issued a permit for a proposed Bonanza coal-fired power plant in Utah. Lawyers for the Sierra Club, Western Resource Advocates, and Environmental Defense filed a request that the permit be overturned because it did not require any controls on carbon dioxide pollution. The enviros pointed to the Supreme Court's April 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, which found that the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
"Essentially what this decision does is it gives the Obama administration a clean slate to decide what our nation's energy future should be," said Joanne Spalding, the senior attorney at the Sierra Club who argued the case before the board. "It puts it back in the lap of an Obama EPA to determine how to treat greenhouse-gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, and it gives the opportunity to establish policies that will essentially favor clean energy and impose restrictions on fossil fuels that emit lots of greenhouse gases."
Many of us have great hopes for the Obama administration, in this area as so many others. But we cannot sit idly by and observe and judge. We must continue to support and advocate. Even if only from our computers at home! Shabbat shalom.