It’s a yearly ritual in Israel: we worry about rain. We worry when we don’t have rain in the winter, when it is supposed to fall; and we worry when we get rain if it’s the wrong time for the crops. This is not a new phenomenon: the Jewish religion is richly interwoven with customs regarding prayer for rain, and lack of rain is directly linked with divine retribution.
Recently, there have been dire predictions regarding rainfall in Israel; that because of global warming, we are seeing less and less rain. Noam Halfon of Haifa University has conducted a study of rainfall in Israel over the past 60 years, with surprising results.
According to Halfon, annual rainfall quantities have remained stable–neither increasing nor decreasing–since the establishment of the state. Halfon conducted his study by examining all the data that was ever amassed by the Meteorological Service. Additionally, researchers studied the daily rainfall statistics from 30 meteorology stations, as well as reports of unusual climatic events.
Halfon told Haaretz, “The common belief that weather events are becoming more extreme can therefore be attributed to greater press coverage of weather events…”
On the other hand, the Kinneret, upon which so much of Israel depends for water, is another story entirely. Says Dr. Daniel Rosenfeld of Hebrew University, “The annual amount of water reaching Lake Kinneret today has dropped by 100 million cubic meters compared to quantities recorded 40 years ago,” Rosenfeld said. “There are a number of explanations for this, and one of them is climate change.”
Climate change may or may not signify divine retribution, but the 100 million cubic meters leaves little room for doubt: we still have reason to worry.