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The climate crisis is not here

Opinion: The indifference of the Israeli public in the face of the global climate crisis inevitably also leads to the indifference of the decision makers on the issue

Ran Levy, Angle - news agency for science and the environment

The climate march in front of the US embassy in Tel Aviv, 2017. Photo by shutterstock
The climate march in front of the US embassy in Tel Aviv, 2017. Photograph by shutterstock

Israeli citizens are not indifferent. In recent years, they have embarked on struggles against racism, for individual rights, for equal rights and against governmental corruption. What these struggles have in common is their inability to formulate a justified sectoral claim in terms of a broad public interest. The reasons for this lie in the political culture and discourse in Israel and a narrow concept of active citizenship as thematic mobilization.

Struggles in the field of the environment are also often thematic or local (Emek Sassegun or Emek Al-Emadim, for example). This does not detract from their value, but they failed in placing them within a broad social and environmental context. The struggle over the gas outline had the potential to connect various issues, and this was done to some extent, but for the above reasons it was difficult to connect the blatant preference of a narrow economic interest and the decision-making in violation of good governance with the colossal failure to formulate an energy policy that would be relevant to the reality of Israel and its international obligations .

Israel is threatened, like the entire world, by a crisis that crosses sectors and interests, which is already disrupting the environmental, social and economic balance with increasing violence: the climate crisis. Perhaps because the climate crisis is so broad, unrelated to a specific group, and not perceived as a concrete threat, it fails to rise on the socio-political agenda. But the public can no longer remain indifferent to him.

The facts that support the existence of the climate crisis and its intensification cannot be refuted. The risk it poses to humanity occurs every day in natural disasters: the floods in Venice and the huge fires in Australia are examples from the very last days. The dispute, apparently, about the extent of the catastrophe is raised by supporters of conspiracy theories or agents of ignorance and by those who take advantage of the inability to discern reality through discourse, in favor of political capital and short-term economic interest.

According to a survey in Great Britain, the majority of young voters (about 75 percent of those aged 25-18) see the climate crisis as the factor that will most influence their vote in the upcoming elections, and most respondents agree that this is the most important issue facing humanity today (similar results were also recorded in other countries) . In contrast, the Pew Research Institute found that the public in Israel sees the climate crisis as a minor threat at most.

Awareness of the threat leads to public support and action on the ground by decision makers: more than 60 countries have pledged to reach zero net emissions by 2050, and their greenhouse gas emissions will be offset by technological means, carbon trading, absorption (for example, planting trees) and more. Even the American Chamber of Commerce - a business lobby organization that until recently advocated a consistent climate change denial policy - changed its approach and called for intersectoral cooperation in the fight against the climate crisis.

Moreover, when Trump's federal administration abandons the Paris Agreement and adopts a policy in favor of the outdated energy sector, the local government (alongside the business sector) takes independent and long-term steps to promote the opposite policy (so, for example, over a hundred cities and districts have pledged to promote zero emissions). In Israel, the absence of the climate crisis from the public discourse also reflects on local government policy. And so, just recently the mayor of Netanya canceled public transportation routes and the mayor of Haifa promoted the expansion of an airport, two steps that are not in line with desired climate policy.

To fight the climate crisis effectively, the direction of economic development and the management of national assets such as agriculture and public health must be changed. Above all, the essence of the existential threats that Israel faces must be perceived differently: not only rockets and tunnels, but also climate change.

These issues and many others came up for discussion at the 4th Israeli Climate Conference, which dealt with various aspects, local and global, of the climate crisis. However, in order for talk to become action, someone needs to listen to the voices coming from there and around the world.

4 תגובות

  1. Ran,
    Especially in the 21st century, it is advisable not to treat the "crowd" as ignorant, but to learn the wisdom of the masses.
    Any simple analysis will show you that when me and my neighbor fight over an ecological corridor/ecological niche/landscape value near my house we may win and save it for generations.
    On the other hand, even if I, you, your neighbors and all the residents of Israel together stop emitting soot completely and switch to breathing nitrogen, this will only change 1/3% of 1 ppm (the average annual increase in the concentration of soot twice Israel's share in it) that is, 0.0000001 of the increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide The world, that is Gornish with Gornish.

    The expected rise in global temperature is also 2 degrees by the end of the century.
    The average temperature in Israel has increased since the fifties and our situation is still good, thank you and the end of the world has not come.

    On the other hand, it is certainly possible to evaluate the lack of water, the Midbor, the warming resulting from the transformation of the entire coastal plain into an urban heat island, the construction of national ecological corridors that will prevent the cutting of habitats and the extinction of animals, and a variety of other issues in which we can influence local activity (and all of Israel is just a tiny point on a map the world) of global significance.
    Underestimating the wisdom of the crowd, apart from being stupid, is undemocratic and a shame

  2. In three months there will be elections in Israel - the only way to get out of the political crisis and stop talking about left and right is to unite around environmental issues - it is true that the left is winning here and maybe it is good for our future and the future of our grandchildren. We residents of Israel do not lack challenges and crises - all over the world it is not easy to connect with a crisis or an existential threat - we, like all residents of the world, avoid engaging in what does us no good. The threat seems far from us both in time and place. Floods in Africa - drought in Australia - heat wave in Europe - mudslides in Asia - what's up with that and us. Does it bother any of the citizens of the State of Israel the fact that in a hundred years the sea will be warmer or the sea level will be a meter higher - probably not - so going out on the street does not seem like the right way to act.

  3. again:
    It is correct and appropriate to write in pure Hebrew:
    Instead of "sectoral" it is appropriate to write sectors,
    instead of "effective" - ​​efficient,
    instead of "conspiracy" - conspiracy,
    And so on :
    In the body of a subject, among other things, it is written:
    "The public in Israel sees the climate crisis
    A minor threat at most.'
    No wonder when it's the same "public"
    who again and again raises to power
    A pathological liar and with him a group of corrupt people
    and "nice" bordering on criminality,
    When those "leaders" say
    because "the public is not stupid"
    There is reason to doubt this...

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