Israel urged to 'act now' or risk global warming tragedy

Israei Environment group warns that annual rainfall could decrease by 20% to 30%.

By RON FRIEDMAN
July 5, 2007 21:43
4 minute read.
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Israel could lose its sea ports and suffer billions of dollars in irreparable damage if global warming is allowed to continue unchecked, an environmental group warned on Thursday. According to a new report by the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (Adam Teva V'din), Israel will not be spared the tragic outcomes of increased global warming and will in fact experience higher-than-average temperature increases. The group studied the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) report and derived from it the probable scenarios for Israel. The report, titled "The forecast is in our hands," describes two possible scenarios. The first reflects the outcome of unchecked global warming with few or no steps taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Under this scenario, temperatures will rise by approximately 3.3 degrees Celsius with more frequent and more intense heat waves. Annual rainfall will decrease by 20 percent to 30 percent, mostly coming from sporadic and intense storms. Rising sea levels caused by the melting of polar icecaps will flood the entire coastline, causing irreparable damage to essential infrastructure like ports and power plants, as well as residential areas along the shore. The southern desert will expand northward from Beersheba, where it is today, to places like Kiryat Gat. Public health will suffer due to problems in the water drainage systems and an increase in airborne diseases. The economic expense of coping under this scenario is calculated at roughly $33 billion a year. The second scenario, which is based on the assumption that the world makes a concerted effort to reduce emissions by global adoption of economic, social and environmental sustainability, shows a much lower impact. While temperatures will still rise and precipitation will decrease, the impact on agriculture, air quality and public health will be limited and no harm will occur to state infrastructure. Joining the world in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will cost Israel roughly $1.5 billion a year. "It is both possible and desirable to make a change. We call on the government to adopt the necessary policy, to set out clear goals and timetables in order to reduce the global warming," said IUED Executive Director Tzipi Iser Itzik. The authors of the report recommend that Israel adopt the EU's approach and commit to reducing carbon emissions by 20% by 2020. They also recommend a series of economic actions such as incentives and subsidies for the development of alternative energies, emission reduction and the capturing and storing of carbon and integrating the cost of carbon emissions in all future developments. "We cannot hitch a ride on the larger countries; we cannot say that we are small and insignificant. We must do everything we can to help prevent a tragedy," said Prof. Dan Yakir. "We have the ability to lead the way with our technology and know-how. It is no longer a technical matter, it is an ethical issue." The report and its recommendations mark the start of a national campaign meant to raise public awareness and call for government action. As part of the campaign, which goes by the slogan "Spare a minute, save a generation," the group opened a new Web site with information about the dangers of global warming. The Web site offers a calculator with which people can measure their average carbon emission rate and tips on how to reduce it. "In the same way that people go on a diet to reduce their weight and improve their health, we suggest that they reduce their emissions and ensure the health of future generations," said IUED campaign coordinator Irit Lechter. This weekend, the whole world will receive a Global Warning. Across all continents, environmental groups are pulling together to send out a message of urgency to governments, organizations and the public regarding the need to start taking action to help prevent a global environmental catastrophe. For this purpose, global environmental organization S.O.S. joined up with former American vice president and current environmental activist Al Gore to put together "Live Earth" - a 24-hour seven-continent concert series taking place in eight cities that will bring together more than 100 music artists and 2 billion people, to trigger a global movement to solve the climate crisis. In addition, concerts operating under the name "Friends of Live Earth" will be taking place in hundreds of other cities across the world. Tel Aviv will host an event at Kikar Rabin on Friday and Saturday, featuring local singers and performers and many environmental activities such as films, games, workshops and an opportunity to buy environmentally friendly products. The "Live Earth" concerts will be aired live in a special broadcast on Channel 10 starting from 4 o'clock on Saturday. IUED was established in 1990 by a group of scientists and attorneys aiming at providing citizen-based challenges to government-imposed development policies and corporate practices that impact adversely on natural resources, public health and quality of life.


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