The Observant Astronomer

The passing scene as observed by an observant Jew, who daylights as an astronomer.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Gloibal Varming

So now, apparently, we Jews are responsible for global warming too. An outfit called the "Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life" dumped a pile of fliers in shul the other day exhorting Jews to change their light bulbs. After all,
the Jewish community has an intrinsic responsibility to respond to the daunting environmental problems confronting us and future generations.

So, no longer are we to be permitted to use incandescent light bulbs. It is now, according to the unpronounceable COEJL, a halachic imperative to only use "energy efficient, cost effective compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs".

"If not now, when?" they ask. And then answer that we're to do this "as a community" on Hanukkah. So, get going and apply to your "institution's Point Person" for your quota of CFLs and, come Hanukkah, replace your incandescents with CFLs. One per night, I suppose, would be in order. This way we can become "energy observant"!

Their enthusiasm is misplaced, however, in that they are ignoring the real Jewish contribution to global climate change: Shabbos. Never mind the energy wasted by light bulbs. Consider the energy wasted by leaving on the stove and other appliances for 26 hours straight. And for what? After the cholent has come off, that stove is likely heating up nothing but the blech. And if your household is anything like mine, there are too many burners on all night anyway, since the main objective is to keep the food hot for the Shabbos evening meal. Waste, waste, waste. Further, consider the amount of carbon dioxide and other toxins being given off by the Shabbos candles. An incredibly convenient suggestion in this regard is to "replace an outdoor light fixture with one that has a motion-detector" on the first day of Hanukkah, which, fittingly, is on Shabbos this year. Incomplete combustion of wax candles is considered to be a major Jewish contribution to global CO2 production. Never mind the methane produced as a result of kiddushes and cholent beans. So, once we've replaced all our light bulbs, as our next contribution to "protecting creation", we'll be called upon to sit in the dark and eat cold food one day a week. The Karaites will be pleased to see their position justified by the Rabbinics at last.


Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der ┼íteg) said...

i try on shabbos to leave only one moveable lamp on in the whole apartment.

9:28 p.m., October 18, 2006  
Blogger The Observer said...

My problem with this is not energy conservation per se---I don't have an incandescent left in my apartment---but with their mixing politics with religion. We can argue the evidence for climate change, but that is the point, it is still an argument, and I don't think it is right to start labelling it "a Jewish problem" and trying to claim it is a mitzvah of some sort to solve it.

10:01 a.m., October 20, 2006  
Anonymous judi said...

I'm a little surprised to see you decrying the intermingling of politics and religion, and then, immediately after, holding up climate change as a theory open to arguement. How... ironic.

C'mon, you're a smart guy. We can argue the causes of climate change ad nauseum, but at this stage of the game we shouldn't be so blind as to spend any time arguing its existance.

I think that you're trying to say that this is not an exclusively "Jewish problem"; who could disagree? But yes, it is an actual mitzvah to change your lightbulbs, recycle your stuff, not use styro cups... Baal tashlich? Remember?

And with the blatant disregard for energy conservation, recycling, reduction of waste, etc. that I see in the local community (ever see the aftermath of a Sukkos street party?), I think the Coalition on Jewish Life and the Environment's message was precisely targeted. I've been told by more than one observant soul that environmntalism doesn't matter much because we're living in "The Time of Moshiach". Yeah.

Until then, would it hurt to change a few light bulbs- or is it just so much more satisfying to ridicule the message?

1:14 p.m., November 10, 2006  
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