Storm, lightning rain sea thunder clouds 370 (R).
(photo credit: Baz Ratner / Reuters)
Rising temperatures and climbing sea levels due to climate change could be
putting more than five million Israelis at severe risk, a special Environmental
Protection Ministry report has indicated.
The rise of the Mediterranean
Sea’s levels as well as the flooding of rivers could gravely impact five million
Israelis as water barrels into their communities, the study warned. In addition
to the flooding dangers, the conditions could also result in outbreaks of
transmissible diseases from pests such as mosquitoes, the report explained.
Escalating temperatures combined with population growth will also undoubtedly
lead to an increased demand for water from decreasing aquifer supplies, it
The report was assembled at the request of the Environmental
Protection Ministry by the Knowledge Center for Climate Change, with researchers
from the University of Haifa, Tel Aviv University, the Technion and the Shmuel
Neaman Institute for National Policy Research.
“Climate changes have for
some time already been no longer just a theoretical threat beyond the horizon –
it is much closer and much more real,” said Environmental Protection Minister
“They are also not inevitable or predestined, but processes
that are influenced by the actions and deeds of human beings, and therefore, we
must address this issue seriously and comprehensively in order to contribute our
part toward coping with this.”
Within the report are maps that define in
detail which areas of cities and the exact streets where flooding will likely
occur due to the rising sea and river levels. In Tel Aviv, the flooding could
reach up to the Ibn Gvirol Street thoroughfare in the city’s center, while
similar problematic events could affect Acre, Haifa, Bat Yam and several other
coastal municipalities, the report warned.
About 2.5 million people are
located in these seaside risk prone areas, while another 2.8 million also may be
in danger due to their proximity to rivers, the study explained.
to weaken the impact of extreme weather events, the report recommended erecting
barriers against flooding as well as increasing the diameters of drainage pipes
so that they can handle greater amounts of water at a time. For every $1
invested in flooding preparation, cities will save about $8 worth of damage and
compensation costs, according to the study.
Despite the rising sea levels
that climate change brings, reduced rain events and escalating temperatures will
reduce available groundwater for an increasingly thirsty population, the report
warned. To cope with some of these challenges, the study suggested using treated
wastewater for firefighting and for cleaning streets, as well as collecting
rainwater from roofs for gardening purposes and spreading messages about the
importance of water conservation.
The government should be encouraging
green building, which reduces about 30 percent of electricity consumption and
10% of water consumption, the report added.
Potential heat waves in the
future could lead to an increased presence of invasive species, such as
mosquitoes, which could bring with them malaria outbreaks and intestinal
diseases, the study said. The report recommended that all public institutions be
properly air conditioned and that the public always receive timely warnings
ahead of extreme heat or cold events.
In light of all the potential
hazards described in the new report, Peretz has called for an inter-ministerial
committee to convene in the near future and address the subject of climate
change in Israel, to be led by Environmental Protection Ministry
director-general David Lefler. The committee will include senior officials from
16 relevant government ministries, such as the Health Ministry, the Defense
Ministry and the Construction and Housing Ministry.
representatives will determine ways to prepare for ongoing climate change and
rising temperatures, in order to reduce and prevent the anticipated damage, the
Environment Ministry said.