The “Adaptation to Climate Change in Israel” report should be a must-read for all Israelis.

The Israeli Climate Change Information Center compiled the report that highlighted the climate-change challenges faced by Israel.

“In the multidisciplinary geostrategy field, three major climate-induced risks are expected to affect Israel — water shortage, rising sea level and rising temperatures,” the report noted.

Energy, fires, food security, geopolitics, migration, tourism and transportation may also be affected by climate change.

“Despite the potentially profound effects on Israel and its neighbors,” the report continues, “insufficient knowledge exists on such issues as the geostrategic balance of power in the Middle East, water resources, migration patterns to, around or through Israel, accelerated energy consumption, food availability and preparedness of the defense system for the anticipated climatic changes.”

The 2014 report advocated analyzing climate change’s effects on Israel’s domestic and foreign policy, national security and the Israel Defense Forces.

The response to climate change, the report noted, should also include “enhancement of water production, preservation of agricultural land, development of a policy on underground construction, securing the food supply and food storage, and securing the energy supply, including local natural gas resources.”

Many of the analyses of potential economic ramifications from climate change have mostly dealt with global effects, thereby limiting localized estimates.

“Israel’s water sector is expected to be highly affected by climate change,” according to the report. “Reduced rainfall and increased extreme weather events are likely to increase flooding and surface runoff as well as to reduce water recharge.

“While desalination and advanced wastewater treatment for agricultural reuse are helping to close the gap between water supply and demand in Israel, they are expensive and energy intensive, resulting in increased emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases.”

The report said climate change will have an “effect on chronic and infectious diseases and on mortality and morbidity from external sources.”

“Extreme weather conditions are known to increase the frequency of certain illnesses,” the report stated, “such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, while climate change is known to affect the presence and behavior of vector-borne diseases.

Other climate factors, such as ultraviolet radiation, are associated with such diseases as cancer and cataracts.”

Climate change will also have an effect on the “geographical distribution of diseases and their seasonal patterns,” according to the report.

Furthermore, “gradual changes in temperature and rainfall [may] lead to the outbreak of diseases due to the invasion of new disease vectors,” the report noted.

“Biodiversity is likely to be extensively affected by climate change, bringing about changes in the geographical distribution of species and in the ecological services provided by natural ecosystems,” according to the report. “Ecosystems that will be affected include freshwater ecosystems, marine ecosystems and terrestrial ecosystems.

“… Since climate change is expected to lead to higher temperatures, greater evaporation and reduced precipitation, the pressures on freshwater systems will increase, aggravating the deterioration of these ecosystems.

“In addition,” the report continued,  “specific species or species sensitive to salinity, temperature and/or oxygen concentration may disappear from ecosystems and be replaced by more robust species, either local or invading.”

The Mediterranean’s ecosystem will also be adversely affected by an acceleration of invasive species.

The acceleration of seawater acidification may exacerbate the erosion of the sea cliffs and lead to the collapse of the unique abrasion platforms,” according to the report. “In the Gulf of Aqaba, coral bleaching may threaten the reef ecosystem.”

The report also addressed the concept of “green building.”

“Green building addresses the dual needs of mitigation and adaptation since the building sector is responsible for about 40 percent of the global energy consumption and a third of the greenhouse gas emissions,” the report stated. “Green building helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the long term while responding to the impacts of climate change in the short term.”

To encourage green building, the report said “legislation, economic tools, training, and education and information” are needed.

A future column will address how to deal with the effects of climate change.

Further reading:

Adaptation to Climate Change in Israel.
Israel’s Second National Communication on Climate Change (2010)