About Stephen Jurovics

Stephen A. Jurovics holds BS and MS degrees from Columbia University and a PhD in Engineering from the University of Southern California. He has had about 20 technical papers published over the years and given numerous presentations at professional conferences. Aspects of climate change mitigation have been the focus of his engineering work for more than two decades. The increasing severity of environmental problems led him, out of spiritual curiosity, to research the environmental teachings in Genesis-Deuteronomy, what Jesus called “the law” in English translations, particularly exploring whether they contained instructions relevant to contemporary issues such as greenhouse gas emissions, preserving biological diversity, treatment of the land, and sustainability. The abundance of applicable teachings, and a desire to discuss ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions motivated him to write this book.
https://www.instagram.com/hospitableplanet

Hospitable Planet Featured by United Methodist News Service

The United Methodist News Service posted to its website a comprehensive and complimentary article about Hospitable  Planet: Faith, Action, and Climate Change.  This resulted from the United Methodist Women selecting Hospitable Planet for its 2018 reading program. You can find the article at this link:  http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/using-biblical-texts-to-guide-climate-action

I am very grateful that the book is receiving this exposure for, after more than two dozen talks at congregations, I continue to believe that members of the Christian and Jewish communities can serve as powerful forces urging action on climate change.

Reminders of biblical teachings, coupled with scientific reasons for action, bring essentially uncontestable arguments to the debate: an energy company executive, or a politician, is not going to challenge a teaching of Jesus or a verse in Deuteronomy.

Let us put our beliefs into action and call for Environmental Protection, not Environmental Destruction.

The Presbyterian Outlook Book Review

Excerpt:

Jurovics combines biblical exploration (faith) with practical application (action) around this most pressing of planetary concerns (climate change). . . .  I am convinced that this brief book can be a helpful resource for people of faith who want to combine their spirituality with concrete action, both personally and communally.

Full Review by: at The Presbyterian Outlook

The Paris Climate Agreement: Withdrawal, then Response

The president’s announcement that he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement was not unexpected. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) was the centerpiece of the U.S. commitment under the Agreement and the president scuttled that months ago, leaving us unlikely to meet our goal.

The president’s oft-repeated objective to “make America great again” has rather, through his actions, diminished the U.S. in the eyes of the world to an unprecedented degree. He has aligned us with Syria and Nicaragua, two countries that did not sign the Agreement for vastly different reasons, and placed us in opposition to the other 194 countries of the world.

The responses to his announcement, both nationally and internationally, have been heartening. Individuals, local and state governments, and businesses have expressed their determination to meet our commitment under the Agreement. This effort is made more difficult given the dysfunction in the legislative branch and the ignorance and malevolence in the executive branch.

As a result, Americans will need to take to the streets even more than we did during the civil rights movement. Not with marches to express our demands, but with massive, sustained protests at those businesses and industries most responsible for carbon emissions.

For example, we can achieve the goals of the CPP by demanding that electric utility companies come into compliance with the state-by-state requirements of the CPP within the timeframe specified, preferably earlier.

We can sweeten the pot by urging public utility commissions to increase the profit margin for a decade for regulated utilities if they accelerate actions to meet their requirements under the CPP.

On the political side, we must repeatedly remind our senators and congresspersons that they will only qualify for our vote if they push for climate change mitigation. Opposition to that guarantees them no vote. While the prospect of voting for a candidate not in the party we favor may seem unappealing, we must remain mindful that the stakes could not be higher: we have a narrow window of time during which we can prevent devastating and irreversible changes to our planet. We cannot postpone action, and voting is one of the easiest ways to effect change. Perhaps this will prompt some politicians to give priority to country over party.

Consider one aspect of the natural world that you love. Now picture that aspect being ruined. All Earth changes as the climate changes. Act, if for no other reason, in your self-interest.

Let us take action as never before in response to a crisis never before experienced.

Science and Faith and Climate Change

The blog entries on this page are meant to support and reinforce what my book Hospitable Planet: Faith, Action, and Climate Change discusses and advocates. Blog and book are both written with the belief that the faith communities that embrace the Bible can strongly influence the course of the climate change debate in this country.

Arguments from the faith perspective, in tandem with those from a scientific one, are essentially uncontestable. That’s a tremendous advantage. That is, willful deniers of climate change in the energy sector, for example, are unlikely to challenge a teaching of Jesus or a verse in Deuteronomy. They can repeatedly question the science and the magnitude of human influence, but they are not likely to debate Scripture.

I hope therefore, that leaders in biblically inspired religious communities will understand that the fate of this planet may rest in their hands: offering an uncontestable argument that complements the environmental one can persuade millions of people to engage with this issue in a similarly unassailable way. The huge faith community can push companies and politicians to respond to the reality of climate change and acknowledge the imminent threats it poses to America and the world.

Clergy and congregants must rise to the occasion, driven by the biblical mandate and the environmental imperative. As the Rev. Fletcher Harper wrote:

If religion cannot provide meaningful leadership on one of the most pressing issues facing the human family, then it will lose its ability to present itself as a moral force.

We are at an inflection point in human history. The vast majority of us are well aware of the reality of climate change, have pushed for actions to mitigate it, and have expressed gratitude for the measures taken. But our actions are not happening fast enough to avoid devastating effects. We do not know whether our efforts will continue to remain unheeded and thereby allow greenhouse gas emissions to increase, or whether we will witness an acceptance and a commitment to reduce those emissions fast enough to limit our long-term temperature increase to a manageable figure. We are poised at that inflection point, fighting for sanity.

We are the last generation that can preserve this hospitable planet. We did not choose to live at this point in time, but we do. Our descendants will not forgive us if we choose expediency over action.


A note from Steve:

My profound thanks to those who have written kind comments about past blog entries – your words are much appreciated.

If you have not yet done so, please check out my book and, if you like it, let as many others as you can know of both the book and the blog. Please click on the tab labeled “The Book” to read an overview, the endorsements, and testimonials from clergy who have invited me to speak.

We must motivate huge numbers of people to push politicians, electric utility companies, car manufacturers, and others, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a rapid pace. We must meet the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement.

Like many others, each in their own way, I am working to alleviate this crisis. In my case, by seeking opportunities to speak at congregations, civic organizations, and other places about climate change and religion. My book does not just discuss biblical environmental teachings, but also identifies 10 measures that would reduce those emissions significantly and advocates an environmental rights movement, akin to the civil rights movement, to push for their implementation.

Please use the Contact form on the website to reach me about a possible engagement. Consider this an urgent request, for time is not on our side.

Seasons in the Era of Climate Change

Each of the seasons of the year can evoke, for many of us, an image of what we most enjoy about that period. It may be the sequence of warm spring days with clear blue skies during which the outside world exerts a strong pull and diminishes our commitment to work or study, that period we call “spring fever.”

For others, it’s the summer days of sunshine and high temperatures when many leave work to vacation at the beach and enjoy the water, sand, and sunshine.

The familiar images and anticipated enjoyment are inexorably moving towards the remembered and unpredictable. Climate change is transforming everything, including our experiences of the seasons, and those changes will challenge our physical, visual, and emotional lives.

The extended period of spring fever may shrink to a series of brief periods of ideal weather followed by drenching rains or intense storms.

Summers at the beach may become less enjoyable with temperatures consistently above 100 degrees, or far higher in the southwest.

The spring return of the birds, with their repeated, characteristic calls, their newly visible nests, and frequent trips to a feeder will become less noticeable, for 314 species of birds are at risk from the effects of climate change, according to the Audubon Society.

Each week that the willful denial of climate change by corporate executives or government officials impedes actions to mitigate these effects, we condemn ourselves  and future generations to a far tougher life on this planet than experienced by our ancestors.

We have seen such willful denial and accompanying obstruction before:

  • Lead was introduced into gasoline around 1926. For many years, low doses (3 cc per gallon) were considered safe. The first warnings were raised in 1959 about the adverse health effects of lead at very low levels—one effect of lead in a child’s blood stream is mental retardation. It took about 25 years, multiple studies, and repeated challenges and lawsuits by the manufacturer of the lead additive and the lead industry, before lead was phased out from gasoline use. In 1988, the government estimated that 3-4 million children had lead in their blood at a level considered toxic, and that the phase out had spared about 3.4 million children from growing up with a hazardous concentration of the metal in their bodies.

 

  • A similar pattern of corporate behavior manifested after theoretical predictions and experimental verification showed that a chemical in spray cans was widening the hole in the ozone layer. That opening would admit more ultraviolet radiation and put the world’s population at risk of elevated levels of skin cancer and eye damage. It took over a decade of battling corporate denial and repeated calls for more studies before the Montreal Protocol was signed, phasing out the use of the offending chemical.

 

  • A third instance occurred with cigarettes. Medical findings showed how smoking could damage the lungs and epidemiological studies demonstrated that smoking was correlated with several illnesses, such as lung cancer and emphysema. The denials, for decades, by the tobacco industry impeded progress by the government in asserting an unambiguous connection between smoking and health.

 

This time the denial and obstruction are jeopardizing the future habitability of this planet—placing at risk the hospitable environment humans have known for millennia.

 

We know how to mitigate climate change and its multiple effects, but are trapped in the familiar pattern that values short-term financial gain over all other considerations.

 

Consider what we love, consider the endearing characteristics of each season, and consider biblical teachings that instruct us on how to live in the natural world created by God. Join with others who seek to bring about a transition from fossil fuels to non-fossil fuels for our energy needs. We still have time to limit the damage, but time is not on our side. Respond like Abraham: Hineni (Here I am).

 

The above blog entry was written for and originally posted to the Wellsprings of Wisdom website. Please see:

Linkhttp://wellspringsofwisdom.com/project/seasons/

 

Climate Change and the Trump Organization

The blog entry from October 2016 included mention of an application by the Trump organization for a permit to build a seawall to protect its golf resort in Ireland from the effects of sea level rise and climate change.

The New York Times reported in December 2016 that the request was denied in order to protect both coastal dunes and the tiny narrow mouthed whorl snail. The protection is required under European Union rules.

The article indicated that Eric Trump led the effort in Ireland, leaving us confident that the president-elect understands the threat from climate change. The general manager of the resort was quoted as saying, “I have the Atlantic Ocean coming at me.”

We have the Atlantic Ocean coming at our entire east coast, and surely deserve as much attention and protection as a golf resort.

Climate Change and the Election

The lead article on the front page of the Sunday New York Times of September 4, 2016 was titled, “Global Warming’s Mark: Coastal Inundation.” The paper reported on major problems with sea level rise in cities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Of particular concern is Norfolk, Virginia, home to over 240,000 people and Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest naval base. That installation is “profoundly threatened” by rising seas, as is the city.

While the Pentagon has built floodgates and other protection measures in certain locations, it attempted in the summer of 2016 to appoint officers dedicated to addressing the climate change threat comprehensively. In a blow to American military readiness, the House voted to prohibit spending taxpayer money on that plan. One Congressman referred to the effort as part of a “radical climate change agenda.” Such blindness to the massive problems confronting not just the military but our country, threatens to diminish both America’s role in the world and our prosperity.

It will come as no surprise that I view climate change as the dominant issue of our time. Therefore, I urge citizens to vote only for candidates who agree that climate change is real and that will support efforts to address it.

The Republican candidate for president has maintained on the campaign trail that climate change is a hoax. He believes it is real, however, when it comes to his golf resort in Ireland; he has applied for a permit to build a sea wall to protect it, citing erosion, sea level rise, and climate change as the reasons. Such behavior exemplifies shameful hypocrisy, to put it mildly. For more about this, see The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/05/24/donald-trump-calls-global-warming-a-hoax-until-it-threatens-his-golf-course/

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/04/science/flooding-of-coast-caused-by-global-warming-has-already-begun.html?_r=0

Climate Change News Article

An article by the author of Hospitable Planet, discussing the importance of the faith community in advancing climate change mitigation, was posted to the climatehome.org website. You can read the article by clicking on the following link:
http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/09/26/can-christian-groups-heal-bitter-us-climate-rift/

Midwest Book Review

The following excerpt from the review of “Hospitable Planet” is featured in the June 2016 issue of the monthly book review publication “Wisconsin Bookwatch”

Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, “Hospitable Planet” impressively informed and informative, making it very highly recommended and critically important reading for all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation.

*Please scroll down to the 15th review by: Midwest Book Review

Book review: A biblical basis for fighting climate change

The Bible that Christians and Jews hold sacred places numerous limitations upon our behavior toward the natural world, meaning that we have been treating the environment in ways that damage our personal relationship to the divine,” he writes. “Christians and Jews who care about that relationship may seek to change personal behavior and find motivation to influence national policies.

Review by: Richard Stradling at NewsObserver.com