Written By: Natalie Baer
More than 5 million Israelis are threatened by climate change as rising temperatures and sea levels heighten severe flooding threats and increase the risk of disease, warns a new report.
According to a recent report by the Israel Climate Change Information Center, threats of climate change -including sea level rise and increased temperatures – are raising the risk of major flooding along the Mediterranean coast.
The report warns Israel’s health care system to be prepared for climate change threats. It states that rising temperatures will also increase the pressure on groundwater resources and increase the number of people suffering from heatstroke, dehydration and disease outbreaks.
The report was produced by researchers from the University of Haifa, Tel Aviv University, the Technion (the Israel Institute of Technology) and the Shmuel Neaman Institute for National Policy Research. It is the first to identify which regions will be at risk from flooding. Results found that 2.5 million people are threatened by rising sea levels, with a further 2.8 million in danger from river and stream flooding.
To tackle climate change threats, the report suggests that Israel erect flood barriers and increase the diameter of drainage pipes to allow drainage systems to cope with greater amounts of water at one time. The report says that for every $1 invested in flood preparation, Israeli cities will save approximately $8 in damage and compensation costs.
In terms of concrete actions to reduce water threats, the report suggests that citizens collect rainwater from rooftops and that the government encourage “green” building, which can reduce water consumption by 10% and electricity consumption by 30%.
To prevent malaria outbreaks and intestinal diseases brought on by pests, the study recommends that all public institutions be properly air-conditioned. It also recommends giving timely warnings to the public prior to extreme cold or heat events.
Commenting on the report, Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz said, “Climate changes have for some time already been no longer just a theoretical threat beyond the horizon – [they are] much closer and much more real.”
He added, “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.”
In response to the report, Peretz is calling for an interministerial committee to address the subject of climate change in Israel. According to the Jerusalem Post, 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.