The chief scientist of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Yishayahu Bar-Or, released a statement yesterday Aug. 4, (and here [in Hebrew]) warning of the well known consequences of global warming that are expected in Israel and the Eastern Mediterranean.
These include a rise in average temperature of 1.8 degrees Celsius already by 2020, a rise of 10 cm in the Mediterranean Sea above the 8 cm rise in the last 15 years, a drop of 10% – 20% in precipitation, and extreme weather events. These will cause the degradation of fresh water resources and the spread of pests and diseases, leading to severe public health problems.
Dr. Bar-Or called on the Government to establish a national program to deal with these potential disasters, and identified the opportunity for Israel to leverage its vast experience in water innovations and solar technologies to position itself as a leader in dealing with the problems caused by global warming.
Israel is one of the few western countries that has yet to recognize the problem of global warming at the national level, and the government has so far neglected to address the problem seriously. The Minister of the Environment, Gidon Ezra – instead of fulfilling his role of actively promoting action on environmental issues – reportedly excused the neglect of climate change by citing Israel’s many priorities that allegedly precede the environment: security, education, social equality and economic development.
Bar-Or’s report predicts billions of shekels in economic damage every year if the country does not prepare itself. But Israeli experience teaches us that action is taken only when disaster strikes: take for example the current water crisis, which has been foreseen, forecasted, and predicted regularly for over 20 years. The causes are described in agonizing detail, and the solutions suggested and presented: water conservation, elimination of waste and responsible use of the existing water resources. But just give us 2 months of rain, and all of the plans go out the window.
As individuals, we can all do our part towards reducing greenhouse gases and saving water until we’re green in the face. But real change will only happen when the large scale processes start, and that will require action at the national and government level. This requires public action to influence public opinion and government policy, and this can be done through joining the activities of the environmental organizations.
So act fast, Act Now before our 100 months are up!