Bloomberg added that “over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption.” Thus, according to Bloomberg, Obama is the best guy to deal with climate change and thus prevent future devastating floods and hurricanes.
Then we have the religious Right, which are questioning why God brought the hurricane upon the US. There have been some rabbis in Israel who have indicated that the US deserved this hurricane. Both of these approaches have something in common: They are based on faith.
Whenever something good or bad happens, we humans have a need to try and make sense of it. We ask: Why have I been blessed in this way? Or why has this terrible thing happened to me?
Both religion and science try and answer some of these questions for us. Religion often makes the mistake of saying that the answers to these questions are fact when they are nothing more than articles of faith. But many secular people are guilty of exactly the same thing. Hurricane Sandy is a prime example of this.
Businessweek’s headline screamed, "It’s global warming, stupid." Others, such as Mayor Bloomberg, have also jumped on the bandwagon. They extend this to say that global warming is manmade, and that we should therefore vote for Obama who is going to do something to stop human caused global warming.
When we look at what the experts are actually saying it becomes clear that no one can link Sandy directly to climate change. In fact, linking any hurricane to climate change is something that climate experts have not yet been able to do – no matter how hard they have tried. Rising sea levels, however, can be linked to climate change.
But even experts agree that the sea has only risen eight inches since the 1800s. Thus, this does not explain why during Sandy the tide rose more than two feet above that the previous level during the 1821 flood of New York City.
Even if we take it as fact that the intensity of Sandy’s flood had to do with climate change, the percentage of climate change that is linked to human activity rather than nature is also hotly debated by experts.
Thus, to say that Sandy had anything to do with manmade global warming is mainly a position of faith. Now, as a man of faith this is something I am willing to accept – as long as it is seen and accepted as such.
Similarly, those who say that God caused the hurricane as a punishment for this or that are stating an article of their faith – no matter how many proofs are brought from the Bible or elsewhere, this will not change.
In the final analysis, any explanation that helps us become better and more responsible human beings, whether personally or towards the environment, is to be welcomed, as long as we present it for what it really is – an article of faith rather than fact.
Rabbi Levi Brackman is co-founder and executive director of Youth Directions , a non-profit organization that helps youth find and succeed at their unique positive purpose in life