Victims of Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan Calls for Action on Climate Change

When faced with catastrophe and war, we are quick to recall Leviticus 19: “Do not stand idly by while your neighbor bleeds.” This Jewish teaching led us to rally for stronger laws to prevent gun violence after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school and called us to demand justice after the Boston Marathon bombing. Yet, with no guns, bombs or weapons, there remains an ongoing battle faced by our global community that often goes unaddressed. Undoubtedly, climate change has led to some of the most devastating natural disasters in recent memory and has contributed to millions of deaths. It is our responsibility to respond.

Last Friday, a monstrous Category 5 typhoon named Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines. The current death toll is estimated to be more than 10,000 people and the resulting devastation of the area has affected over 9 million people. Geographically, the Philippines’ low altitude and position in the warm Pacific Ocean puts the country at a high risk of typhoons. Additionally, as a rather economically disparate country, the Philippines has a large and quite vulnerable population. While the world’s wealthiest nations are most responsible for climate change, poor communities and nations are most severely impacted and least able to adapt.

We can no longer ignore the fact that climate change has significantly contributed to increasingly severe weather events. Meteorologists have determined Typhoon Haiyan was one of the most damaging storms in world history, attributing its formation to minor rises in water temperature and other weather conditions. More than 600,000 people have been displaced by the storm and many have little to no access to food, water or medicine.

We must respond to this tragedy as we would any other.

The URJ General Disaster Relief Fund is now collecting donations that will be distributed to aid groups working in the affected areas. Donate now to join in these efforts.

In President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, he indicated our country’s need to reduce carbon pollution, to prepare for the dire effects of natural disasters as a result of climate change and to lead international efforts in addressing how climate change affects our global community. The URJ supports President Obama’s commitment to protecting our environment and the tragedy of Typhoon Haiyan is our call to action.

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Sophie Golomb

About Sophie Golomb

Sophie Golomb is a 2013-2014 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the RAC. She graduated in 2013 from Brandeis University and is originally from Brooklyn, NY where she is a member of Brooklyn Heights Synagogue.


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