Israel not doing well on climate change

Temperatures rising and lessened precipitation expected over the next few decades, scientists say.

Global Warming 224.88 (photo credit: Jonathan Beck)
Global Warming 224.88
(photo credit: Jonathan Beck)
With temperatures rising and lessened precipitation expected over the next few decades, Israel is not sufficiently prepared to handle climate change, scientists said at a Jerusalem conference on Tuesday. Chief Scientist Dr. Yeshayahu Bar-Or said Israel is beginning to lag behind more and more countries in its preparations for climate change. "Two years ago, we were somewhere in the middle of the pack, but many other countries have now prepared or adopted plans to combat climate change," he said at the start of the conference, sponsored by the Environmental Protection Ministry. Bar-Or is part of an interministerial committee created to develop a program to reduce emissions and prepare a national plan to deal with climate change. He did not say when the committee would present its plans, but it is likely some way off. The chief scientist added that what was needed was more hard numbers and fewer general assessments predicting the effects of climate change. He also noted that cost-benefit analyses had shown that despite the initial high costs, preparing for climate change would be financially beneficial in the long run. Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan said preliminary McKinsey numbers indicated that if Israel continued business as usual, emissions would double in the next 15 years, even as the rest of the world reduced its emissions. Erdan also slammed the government for failing to recognize the importance of reducing emissions, but said he hoped they would come on board after the Copenhagen talks in December clarified what Israel's responsibilities would be. Temperatures have gradually risen by as much as half a degree each decade, primarily in summer and fall, said Hebrew University of Jerusalem geography lecturer Dr. Efrat Morin, adding that those results were pretty clearly observable. Dr. Amir Givati of the Israel Hydrological Service, said that the amount of water in Lake Kinneret per year would likely drop from 375 million cubic meters (mcm.) to 305 mcm. over the next couple of decades.