How is the climate crisis specific to Israel?

The climate crisis is already here, and it threatens the future of us all. However, the specific geographic and geopolitical nature of Israel leads to some unique issues that concern our tiny country.

Desert

Many who have never travelled to Israel imagine it all to be a desert, and are surprised by our greenery and modern skyscrapers and built-up towns. Yet, approximately 60% of Israel is desert.

As per David Ben Gurion’s dream to make the desert bloom, there is plenty of life in the Negev – Israel’s south – including 13% of the population. Yet as temperatures rise, deserts become increasingly vulnerable. Indeed, scientists predict that “super and ultra-extreme” heat events with temperatures above 56°C will become frequent in the Middle East and North Africa in the second half of this century. (NPJ Science of Learning). In addition to such temperatures being intolerable to humans, it will also wreak havoc with “the landscape’s surface protective layer, known as biocrust,” which is abundant in microorganisms that help preserve water and natural ecosystems.

If we were just a desert – dayenu! It would be enough…to deal with. Yet Israel is considered to be a desert coastal state. As the name suggests, as well as so much of the country being desert, we are also located on the Mediterranean Sea, which brings an entirely different set of threatening issues.

Water

Israel is a proud leader of a water revolution, having overcome previous drought and water shortages. Over the decades, Israel has reversed its water fate and now enjoys excess water through careful planning (our National Water Carrier) and technology including drip irrigation, wastewater treatment plants and seawater reverse osmosis desalination plants.

However, all our desalination plants are along the coast. Israel’s coastline measures 273 km / 169.6 miles, where many towns are situated, Tel Aviv being the largest and Israel’s densest region (with 7,522 people per square km). Rising water levels would wipe out much of our infrastructure, including beaches, power plants, desalination plants, and residential areas.

Climate Refugees

The climate crisis will also cause climate refugees. No one yet knows what this will mean, but it places Israel, as a land bridge between three continents (Europe, Africa and Asia) in a new light.

With a total land area similar to New Jersey (of 22,070 square km / 8,521 square miles), and a current population of just over nine million people already struggling over property prices, the cost of living and infrastructure to cope with a growing population, how will we cope with an influx of climate refugees? Will Israel find itself opening its doors to climate refugees from enemy countries? Or will Israelis be the refugees, seeking out another land as ours will no longer be inhabitable…? How do we prepare for such a future?

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

While Israel is not one of the world’s major emitters of greenhouse gases, we will and do feel the effects of what happens elsewhere. Successive Israeli governments have assigned climate change to a low priority and as such we are severely lagging behind the other OECD countries in terms of climate legislation. We desperately need a clear, national plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, for carbon offsetting by 2050, transition to renewable energies and a plan for tackling anticipated damage.

Climate legislation will provide the framework for tackling local and national impacts of climate change.

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ההשלכות הקטלניות של הרפורמה המשפטית על איכות הסביבה

המציאות הדמוקרטית כפי שאנו מכירים אותה כיום, המספקת הגנה על זכויות אדם סביבתיות, תשתנה ללא היכר אם ההפיכה המשטרית תעבור. גם הזכות הבסיסית לסביבה ראויה לכל אדם תירמס יחד עם זכויות האדם האחרות.

אסור לתת יד להפיכה המשטרית! יחד נשמור על הדמוקרטיה