Egozi: Climate Change and Israel’s Lack of Preparedness for Natural Disasters   

Egozi: Climate Change and Israel’s Lack of Preparedness for Natural Disasters   

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By Arie Egozi   

Global warming and climate change will cause the economy to lose billions of dollars by the end of the century, according to the US government report released recently. According to the report, damages will obstruct all ways of living,  endangering public health, infrastructure and agricultural crops. Is the Israeli economy also prepared for these threats?

The National Climate Assessment Report, written with the aid of 13 different agencies and authorities in the US, described the predictable impact of global warming on American society alongside issuing a clear warning. “As long as greenhouse gases emission rates keep rising hysterically, the annual losses in some of the economic sectors are predicted to reach hundreds of $billion by the end of the century – more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many states”, according to the report.

Those writing the report claim that global warming will unproportionately harm the lower classes in society, extensively jeopardize human health, cause damage to infrastructure, cut off water availability, change the coastline and even lead to an increase in costs of energy production.   

Despite the already felt consequences of climate change, like frequent powerful storms, the report claims that predictions might be changed if greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced significantly. “Future risks resulting from climate change depend mostly on decisions being made today,” the report noted.  

The report’s findings are in stark contrast to President Trump’s policy, still trying to erase the steps of his predecessor Barack Obama, especially when it comes to issues of environmental care and the extraction of oil out of oil shales, as part of the effort to stop the warming process. Both Trump and his administration have expressed past doubts regarding the “theory of climate change” arguing that there is a dispute regarding its consequences. Last year, President Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement to fight climate change, signed by 200 states, arguing that the agreement might damage the US economy and that the environmental benefit it might procure is minor.

These are the predictions according to the report, and they are not entirely new. The dangers are high and it appears that the world is being smug about it. In Israel too, it seems like there is not enough awareness of the dangers in store. While there is much preparation for war and terror attacks, there is a felt lack of preparation for disasters related to the climate – such as vast fires, floods and cliff erosion.

One can see this by reading the report of the State Comptroller and Ombudsman of Israel, published two weeks ago. The report determines that state emergency agencies did not improve the faults that were exposed by the 2012 report, following the disaster of the Carmel fires.

In the report, regarding local authorities’ level of preparation for fires, the State Ombudsman Yosef Shapira says the National Emergency Authority, Home Front Command, Israeli Police and Fire Department all “did not implement the lessons from the previous disaster and did not fix the faults found in previous critical reports, including the Ombudsman report of 2012 regarding the Carmel fire from 2010.”   

This is not surprising. In Israel, a common attitude states that “everything will be ok”.

Facing the American Government’s report on the dangers awaiting climate change, Israeli authorities ought to start doing their jobs properly.

Arie Egozi, iHLS Editor-in-Chief