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Greta Thunberg as Mad Max

Broken TV sitting in a barren wasteland

Andrew Hefter/Getty Images

“There are two women tackling climate change in a big way. Michele Bachmann is one of them. The other is Greta Thunberg, the teen climate activist who was just named Time’s Person of the Year.”

My friend Frank sent me a link to former Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s pronouncement that climate change is fake because God promised not to flood the earth a second time. “When it comes to God’s Word,” Ms. Bachmann said, “you can take it to the bank.” I know a lot of televangelists who do just that, and I know that Frank sent me this link to goad me into writing a snarky essay attacking Michele Bachmann, but I won’t.

There are two women tackling climate change in a big way. Michele Bachmann is one of them. The other is Greta Thunberg, the teen climate activist who was just named Time’s Person of the Year. Michele puts her trust in God. Greta puts hers in humanity. Of the two I prefer Michele—and I don’t even believe in her God!

There are three reasons for my preference:

First, Greta demands that I change the way I live and Michele does not. The only warming I have to fear from her is burning in Hell for all eternity because I’m a Jew, and that worries me even less than the fact that the summer season in Tennessee seems eight months long.

Second, Greta is Swedish and Michele is American, and I always root for the home team.

And third because Greta yells, “How dare you,” at me, while Michelle just smiles at me.

Yet both of them are right. Greta is right that the climate is changing so fast and so horribly that human life will soon come to approximate Mad Max movies where the remnant of humanity—decimated in part by our addiction to fossil fuels—drive gas-guzzling vehicles around a now-barren landscape. And Michele is right that God promised never to destroy all life on earth with a second flood: “I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth” (Genesis 9:11, NIV).

And both of them are wrong. Greta is wrong that the nations of the world will actually do something to stem the worst effects of climate change. They won’t. Michele is wrong that just because God won’t drown all life on planet earth with a global flood, doesn’t mean that God won’t burn the planet to a cinder starting with California. As the African American spiritual Mary Don’t You Weep puts it, “God gave Noah the rainbow sign / No more water but fire next time.”

Anyway, despite my friend Frank’s goading, I’m happy we have both Greta and Michele speaking about climate change. I imagine a time in the not so distant future when Michele will play the role of Aunt Entity (Tina Turner) in a real-life Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome, while Greta plays Mad Max. Chances are, I will be dead by then. My condolences to my grandson and his generation.

If you enjoyed this piece, check out Rabbi Rami’s story “The God Gap.”

Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. In the print version of our magazine, he has an advice column, “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler,” addressing reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more. His latest book is Surrendered—The Sacred Art. Rabbi Rami hosts our podcast, “Essential Conversations.”

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