Ok is not okay

Grace and peace to you

Last Sunday a funeral was held for the first glacier killed by human-caused climate breakdown. According to news reports the glacier was even issued a death certificate. Articles I’ve read state the following:

In 1901, a geological map of Iceland’s Central Highlands depicted the Okjökull glacier as a large swathe of ice spanning 38 square kilometers. By 1945 it had shrunk to just 5 square kilometers. Not long after 2005, it was all but gone. In 2014, Okjökull lost its glacier status; now, it’s just a shield volcano with no glacial cover at all.”

A team of researchers and documentary makers have now highlighted this loss – as well as the losses to come – by creating a memorial for the lost Okjökull glacier (these days referred to simply as Ok, having lost the -jökull or “glacier” part of its name).

Andri Snaer Magnason, the author of the memorial, titles the plaque “A letter to the future”:

“Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier.
In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path.
This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done.
Only you know if we did it.”

Along with this passage, the memorial also includes the number 415ppm CO2: the record level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere reached in May this year, the first time this has happened in human history.

“This will be the first monument to a glacier lost to climate change anywhere in the world,” says anthropologist Cymene Howe from Rice University. “By marking Ok’s passing, we hope to draw attention to what is being lost as Earth’s glaciers expire. These bodies of ice are the largest freshwater reserves on the planet and frozen within them are histories of the atmosphere.”

“Many glaciers, in Iceland and elsewhere on the planet, are losing a huge amount of ice to a warming climate. With Asia’s mountain glaciers rapidly melting and depleting the region’s people of precious water resources, and with Antarctica alone losing 252 billion tons of ice annually, the onus is on us to do something. One of our Icelandic colleagues put it very wisely when he said, ‘Memorials are not for the dead; they are for the living.'” Howe said.

“With this memorial, we want to underscore that it is up to us, the living, to collectively respond to the rapid loss of glaciers and the ongoing impacts of climate change. For Ok glacier it is already too late; it is now what scientists call ‘dead ice.'” [JACINTA BOWLER in Science Alert 20 AUG 2019]

This memorial service (even more pertinent in the light of the Amazon fires) reminds us of our interconnectedness to the whole web of life. It reminds us that the way we live our brief span matters in the whole big scheme of things. It says to us that the consequences of our living may only be truly known long after we are gone. As the ice melts we are invited to hear the “creation groaning”, not in labour pains as Paul wrote in Romans 8:22, but rather in death throws.

This memorial service leaves us with Yhwh’s pleading: “There is life and death before you… choose life.” [Deuteronomy 30:15-19]

Grace,
Alan


“I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” Donald Trump. President of the United States.

Disloyal Jew

I am a disloyal Jew.
I am not loyal to a political party.
Nor will I be loyal to dictators and mad kings.
I am not loyal to walls or cages.
I am not loyal to taunts or tweets.
I am not loyal to hatred, to Jew-baiting, to the gloating connivings of white supremacy.

I am a disloyal Jew.
I am not loyal to any foreign power.
Nor to abuse of power at home.
I am not loyal to a legacy of conquest, erasure and exploitation.
I am not loyal to stories that tell me whom I should hate.

I am a loyal Jew.
I am loyal to the inconveniences of kindness.
I am loyal to the dream of justice.
I am loyal to this suffering Earth.
And to all life.

I am not loyal to any founding fathers.
But I am loyal to the children who will come.
And to the quality of world we leave them.
I am not loyal to what America has become.

But to what America could be.
I am loyal to Emma Lazarus. To huddled masses.
To freedom and welcome,
Holiness, hope and love.

By Reb Irwin Keller

Reb lives in Sonoma County California and is a student member of Ohalah, the Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal.


The New Colossus (Statue of Liberty)

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

by Emma Lazarus

Remember the journey

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report
www.ipcc.ch

 

Grace to you

Walking up Kloof Corner to the front contour path of Table Mountain is quite something. There are a few sharp switchbacks to begin with – each switch surprising one with sweeping new views of the city and surrounding ocean. This past Monday afternoon as I rounded the first switchback that usually offers sight of an endless blue ocean creeping into Camps Bay I was shocked to see the sea was no more. The sea had sunk beneath a carpet of cotton wool. As if the sky and ocean had struck a deal to change places. It was an incredible sight.

It was warm on the path. Made warmer still by the ascent of 990m to the contour path and the cloudless sky provided no shade. On the next switchback that sharply turns one to face the harbour and beyond to the Northern suburbs I watched with horror as massive container ships were swallowed up in seconds – like someone moved a giant cursor over them and pushed delete. The fluffy cotton wool was now seen for what it was, a dangerous fog monster with a massive appetite.

On my way home I decided to drive down into Camps Bay. It was another world compared to the mountainside where the sun still shone. It was smoky, dark and drizzly. Macbeth-like. The glow of streetlights and headlights strained to make their presence felt. People on the beach looked like ghosts floating with some body parts having already succumbed to the monster’s bite. The ocean was still nowhere to be seen. It was easy to forget the mountain moments of warmth, sunlight and clear vision just minutes before and yet as I began to drive up the hill again the previous reality of clear sky and crisp sight slowly returned.

From this parable-like-experience I want to remember that life on the same day at the same time not far from each other can be worlds apart. I want to remember that my experience of life is not the only true and real experience. I want to remember that when the sky has fallen in on me that it is not true for the whole world. I want to remember that I must receive and relish the days of seeing far and feeling warmth because they will offer much needed guidance and sustenance for the journey into places of darkness and struggle.

Grace,
Alan