Earth Day, Passover & the Cost of Climate Change

In Saturday’s DM, we shared Rabbi Heschel’s valuable reflections on Liberation and Redemption, and how all human deeds are meant to “advance the drama of redemption.” 

A man with a globe and butterflies on his head, at the 2017 March for Science/Earth Day, Washington, DC. Photo by scattered1. Wikimedia Commons.

All are called to participate in such works of liberation—and Passover commemorates that. He says our work for compassion and justice is meant to be a joyful work that elicits joy in others.

This year is special because Earth Day and Passover are both celebrated  today.

How can honoring the Earth and working to defend her be a Passover kind of event? Well, obviously, because when the Earth is in trouble, all who dwell on Earth are in trouble. Whether we be two-legged, four-legged, finned, feathered, winged or tree people—all beings face a common calamity called Climate Change.

Can a common calamity wake us up?

News coverage of the very first Earth Day in 1970. Video by CBS New York. 

Last week a new study came out analyzing the Earth situation from now to the end of the century. It is not good news. Let us consider some of its most salient points. The emphasis is on the economics of Climate Change. 

While I usually prefer pointing to the spiritual ramifications of continuing to crucify Mother Earth, it is useful to consider the financial repercussions also, because it is often the latter that move people and institutions to acknowledge reality. The “bottom line” gets people to sit up and take notice when an appeal to compassion by itself does not move folks so readily.  

Here are some sobering statistics:

Seen at the 2017 March for Science/Earth Day event in Washington, DC. Activities included teach-ins on scientific and environmental topics, speakers, music, and a march to the U.S. Capitol. Photo by scattered1. Wikimedia Commons.

The climate crisis will shrink the average global income 19% in the next 26 years compared to what it would have been sans global heating. The primary cause is the burning of fossil fuels.

Decisions we make now will determine whether this number holds at 19% or moves to 35% the next half of the century. If we fail to move faster now, by 2100 economic losses will amount to 60% on global average.

In dollar terms, the climate crisis will cost $38 trillion per year by 2050. Currently the entire world economy is about $100 trillion a year. America’s budget is about $6 trillion a year.

Scientist Leonie Wenz, leader of the study, says that “this clearly shows that protecting our climate is much cheaper than not doing so.”* These numbers do not include noneconomic impacts like loss of life and biodiversity or even sea-level rise.


* Olivia Rosane, Climate Crisis to Cost Global Economy $38 Trillion a Year by 2050, April 19, 2024.

See Matthew Fox, “Your Mother is Dying: A Crucifixion Story for Our Time,” in Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, pp. 11-34.

And Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, Jennifer Listug, Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action.

And Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth.

And Fox, “Creation—All Our Relations,” in Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, pp. 26-49.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: A can-sorting demonstration at the 2023 “Sure We Can” Earth Day event in Brooklyn, New York City. Photo by Wil540 art. Wikimedia Commons. 



Queries for Contemplation

Do you think the facts named in this article are enough to get people and institutions (including banks, fossil fuel companies, and political parties) to sit up and take notice? To inaugurate a new Exodus and a new Passover away from anthropocentric narcissism and fossil fuels and greed?


Recommended Reading

The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance

In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.

Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action
By Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jen Listug

In the midst of global fire, earthquake and flood – as species are going extinct every day and national and global economies totter – the planet doesn’t need another church or religion. What it needs is a new Order, grounded in the Wisdom traditions of both East and West, including science and indigenous. An Order of the Sacred Earth united in one sacred vow: “I promise to be the best lover and defender of the Earth that I can be.”
Co-authored by Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jennifer Berit Listug, with a forward by David Korten, this collection of essays by 21 spiritual visionaries including Brian Swimme, Mirabai Starr, Theodore Richards, and Kristal Parks marks the founding of the diverse and inclusive Order of the Sacred Earth, a community now evolving around the world.
“The Order of the Sacred Earth not only calls us home to our true nature as Earth, but also offers us invaluable guidance and company on the way.”  ~~ Joanna Macy, environmental activist and author of Active Hope.

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths

Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit


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4 thoughts on “Earth Day, Passover & the Cost of Climate Change”

  1. Avatar

    Are the devastating effects of climate change real? Yes, they are and let us acknowledge that. Are many countries and for-profits currently acting in a responsible fashion? Yes, they are but it is acknowledged that it is not enough and many still cause considerable harm to the environment.
    Studies on the impact of global warming can be difficult to understand and act on. There is a lot of attention now from those people suffering from loss economically from drought, devastating and extreme storms, and lack of insurance. Lack of water and food are commonplace. But studies need to be simple to understand, substantiative and widely supported by experts.
    In the mid-eighties, I attended a presentation given to business on Bay Street in Toronto by Dr. David Suzuki. I came away in ‘mortal fear’ on the effects of the total depletion of fossil fuels in the next 10 years and the substantive lack of alternative power sources to ‘fuel’ the economy. Economic devastation was imminent. He had convincing arguments and unsupported statistics. Well, we know that the amount of discoverable and available fossil fuels only continued to grow by a wide margin. I stopped believing people like Suzuki, and others at face value as many have an agenda and resort to fear mongering over substantive, supported arguments.
    I did follow the link provided and the article did not avail of any research to support the findings. — BB.

  2. Avatar

    Very compassionate appeal Matthew to world, political, governmental, business, and social leaders about the need to reverse the ecocide and destruction of Our Sacred Mother Earth and Her species, including our own, caused by a capitalistic fossil fuel economy, ignorance, and greed.
    The spiritual transformation and evolution of Our Souls continues to be urgently needed Now with the Grace of Our Source~Creator’s Divine Spirit of LOVE~WISDOM~TRUTH~PEACE~JUSTICE~COMPASSION~DIVERSE LOVING ONENESS…Flowing within and among Us in order to save Our Beautiful Sacred Mother Earth and All Her Living Species….

  3. Avatar

    I think we need to appeal both to enlightened self interest and to religious faith in dealing with climate change—and to a long term perspective. It would be helpful to trace the long run economic costs through concrete examples and to provide successful concrete examples of changing from fossil fuels to renewable energy. I agree with Bill that the information needs to be presented in simple, easily grasped ways. It would be well to acknowledge possible problems also with some of the renewable sources. I can provide one simple example of my church, First Presbyterian in Tallahassee, which on the basis of faith and the necessity to protect our beautiful creation, both installed solar panels and divested from fossil fuel companies. Utility costs are no longer a big problem, and the very substantial endowment has grown in most satisfactory ways. We are washing dishes and utensils once again. There are sources that can keep you updated about contacting banks, insurance companies, fossil fuel companies, and government officials to make changes. Sierra Club is one that I rely on,
    https://www.sierraclub.org/. Union of Concerned Scientists is another one.

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