A statement from the Foreign Ministry urges international cooperation in order to combat climate change.


Climate change is believed by scientists to affect millions of people (photo credit: REUTERS)

Climate change is believed by scientists to affect millions of people (photo credit: REUTERS) The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a report on Monday, warning that climate change was happening more rapidly than initially thought.

Following the publication of the report, the Israeli Foreign Ministry released a statement, acknowledging the importance of taking action.”The report that was published today is important and deserves much attention in Israel and around the world,” the statement said. “It is a warning light, and it requires international action and sharing of knowledge and experience aimed at preventing the extreme phenomena as the report describes.”

The Foreign Ministry and Israel’s representatives around the world are pushing for a “climate diplomat” that will include taking part in international events regarding climate change such as Earth Day in which dozens of Israeli representatives around the world host events to raise awareness on the subject and present Israeli technology.”

“Israel, as a country that has been dealing with difficult climate challenges, has much expertise and experience in the matter of climate innovation,” said Director-General of the Foreign Ministry, Alon Ushpiz. “The knowledge and experience Israel has can help other countries around the world in the area of water technology and seawater purification, sustainable agriculture that can withstand drought and climate change, sustainable energy and energy preservation, development of animal protein substitutes, reforestation, and another area that will help us all face the challenges in front of us.”


The climate crisis is here – but so are other environmental hazards – Jerusalem Post

The fight against the climate crisis is starting to gain the support of public legitimacy, while other environmental issues, no less serious, are disappearing from the narrative almost completely.

By URI ANGEL   AUGUST 11, 2021

A young girl stands with collected trash sign reading SOS (photo credit: RICARDO GOMES/REUTERS)
A young girl stands with collected trash sign reading SOS (photo credit: RICARDO GOMES/REUTERS)

My grandmother used to recycle everything; she even separated the contents of her tea bag to place it in the compost bin. She liked the saying: “We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children with a commitment to return it in better condition.” I hope that the words to follow will ignite a fragment of her passion.

The fight against the climate crisis is starting to gain the support of public legitimacy, while other environmental issues, no less serious and threatening, are disappearing from the narrative almost completely. The way in which the climate crisis is presented, as a problem that goes beyond the “normal” environmental discourse, overshadows the importance of other problems and prevents us from recognizing the many branches of the environmental crisis.

Apart from the climate crisis, environmental scientists expound on many environmental hazards, the comprehension of them should be basic knowledge nowadays. Let’s familiarize ourselves with some of them. First, the loss of biodiversity, in particular harm to insects and the bee population. Insects are an integral part of many processes we enjoy: they aerate the soil, recycle organisms and are responsible for 80% of the pollination of the crops from which we ultimately are fed. Unfortunately, in the last 50 years, more than half of the world’s insect species have become extinct. Bees, which are the main helpers in the pollination process, are disappearing at a faster rate. In 2018, the US National Agricultural Statistics Organization reported the disappearance of about 60% of bees. The main hypotheses for this are: massive use of pesticides and damage to the bees’ natural habitats.

The issue of ‘biodiversity loss’ is absent from the public discourse. The solutions are to: set up more nature reserves, ban certain pesticides and let the habitats recover.Secondly, every year, millions of tons of plastic find their way into nature, and about eight million of those tons reach the sea. The rate of plastic production is increasing year by year, for instance, in the last 15 years, the amount of plastic in the world has doubled. The damage this causes to ecosystems is responsible for the deaths of animals of all species. Micro-plastic particles disperse and reach the respiratory and digestive systems of fish and birds, even in those we eat. Moreover, in recent years plastic particles have also been found in the human body, and even in breast milk a percentage of bisphenol A (known as BPA, a plastic chemical), has been detected. Plastic particles greatly affect our health and are linked to a significant proportion of cancers. Prof. Shana Swan in her book COUNT DOWN explains that plastics are closely linked to infertility. According to her, plastics reduced the sperm count of Western men by about 50%.

Thirdly, another environmental crisis is air pollution. The issue of air pollution can be simply divided into greenhouse gases and other toxic gases and particles (hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen oxide, etc.). In parallel with the extensive and important preoccupation with greenhouse gases, attention must be paid to the other gases emitted into the air. According to the World Health Organization, about seven million people die each year from air pollution, almost the equivalent of the population of London or New York City (“Air pollution in the Western Pacific”). Aside from mortality, many people suffer from; disease, anxiety, and additionally, developmental problems that have arisen in children, as a direct result of air pollution. A study conducted at the Yale School of Medicine for six years links air pollution to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression (Kai Chen & Sara Lowe, “Air Pollution Linked to Increased Mental Health Outpatients Visits”). Further studies indicate the impairment of neurological development in children. About seven million deaths, along with millions more casualties a year, warrant a sharp introspection, both of greenhouse gases and of other toxic gases and particles emitted into the air.

Fourthly, another serious problem is soil contamination. Excessive use of fertilizers over many years has fundamentally changed the composition of the soil; the consequences of which can be severe for future generations. The amount of nitrogen in the soil and rivers has increased significantly, mainly due to farmers’ unbridled use of chemical fertilizers. The various chemicals in the variety of fertilizers harm the bacteria in the top layer of the soil, which is responsible for the decomposition of organic matter and soil loosening. In fact, fertilizers kill these microorganisms and leave diseased soil, which depends on chemical fertilizer. Additionally, a study at Yale University (Fred Pearce, “Can the World Find Solutions to the Nitrogen Pollution Crisis”) found that due to nitrogen pollution, our ecosystems are likely to face a “red tide,” in which red unicellular algae release toxins in rivers and seas, the algae leave toxic and lifeless areas, for instance in Florida and the North Gulf of Mexico. In the National Geographic magazine, a number of researchers claim that many chemicals leave the Earth wounded, moreover the chemicals are seeping into the soil polluting groundwater and seawater. Mankind is changing the Earth, and yet hardly any organizations have stood up to speak. A farmer who wants to stop using chemical fertilizer cannot compete with his chemically equipped counterparts.

Fifthly, the shortage of drinking water is related to the climate crisis, but it is not the same. One in nine people in the world does not have access to clean drinking water. The UN warns that by 2035, 40% of the world’s population will live in areas where there will be a shortage of clean drinking water. Only a small portion of the clean water is used for households, while the majority is used for industry and agriculture. The problem is that 80% of the water used in factories and agriculture returns to nature without proper treatment, and it is full of chemicals and waste. AS PRESENTED here, the many facets of environmental problems, the unbridled use of nature has a boomerang effect. Lastly, improper sewage treatment produces an environmental hazard that decimates the fish population and directly harms our health. The breakdown of organic matter in water consumes oxygen and thus harms fish. Also, polluted water in recreational areas, for example beaches, is responsible for infections and other serious diseases in humans.

\The number of hazards is large, and many of them are intertwined and originate from the same root – unbridled use of nature and the failure to address the environmental consequences of our actions.When the problem is multifaceted, there is a tension between the representation of the whole problem and the representation of the aspect that is perceived as more pressing: the climate crisis. On the one hand, there is a desire to achieve results in the aspect that is burned into our consciousness with great urgency. The climate crisis marketing strategy as a single-major issue makes it easier to mobilize support for it, as it differentiates it from the lesser-known or difficult-to-market problems. On the other hand, its differentiation interferes with the understanding that the overall picture entails additional dangers that require urgent attention. The differentiation of the climate crisis leaves the rest of the environmental hazards out of the public consciousness and deprives them of the attention they need.

A decision to present the environmental struggle as an overall issue requires society to recognize the multiplicity of the problem, even if these may sound less sexy or romantic like insects and sewage. The environmental crisis is serious in its consequences, we are required to make tremendous efforts in all environmental sectors beyond the issue of climate. We must divide the resources of the struggle in a dynamic way that matches the urgency of the variety of issues. The climate crisis has become a headline that overshadows other environmental hazards and deceives the public that other hazards are trivial matters, while the implications and changes required are astronomical.

Some of the solutions are in changing the lifestyle of the ordinary citizen, while other solutions are aimed at changing legislation and enforcement on industries and on us. The environmental effect of changing our private lifestyles is significant, but an individual who stops consuming many products will have a hard time affecting air pollution as a whole, biodiversity, or the cleanliness of drinking water in the world. As stated, both solutions are important and necessary, but I would like to speak this time in praise of the benefit of legislative changes and civic pressure on elected officials.

In order for changes in legislation to take place, we as a public have a responsibility and job that does not fall short of changing our lifestyles. This responsibility includes constant pressure on elected officials to engage in it. Only significant pressure from the population can bring about meaningful change.Nature is a limited resource, and the climate crisis is just one of many issues. Due to its “privileged” status, the crisis serves as a pioneer in the conscious-environmental battle. However, the absence of many hazards from public discourse, along with the highly regarded fight against global warming, impair our ability to understand the extent of the situation and act on its behalf. The time has come to give recognition and validity to all environmental struggles, and to turn the spotlight on them, both in adjusting our lifestyles and in changes in legislation.

\The author is a climate lecturer and publicist, student of PPE at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a manager at Bar Kayma NGO.