There are many issues that should worry us in the last few weeks, from our foreign relations with the Biden administration to the lack of transparency of government activity, as well as a myriad of other ongoing sagas, across the political board.
Israel has long neglected many overarching issues and has had difficulty implementing any coherent long-term policy for a while, due to frequent elections and external crises such as the CoronaVirus. Besides the obvious issue of Israeli-Palestinian relations, Israel has been ignoring an existential crisis of a different kind: we have known since the 1990s that a natural crisis looms in our future, that we will feel the wrath of Earth if we do not take immediate action.
There have been various hurdles in the pursuit of Green resolutions, like the opposition of Haredi families to reducing use of single-use dishes, or Druze protests to wind turbines being raised in the North.
Israel has a hard time prioritizing overarching issues like any elected government – no one wants to spend their budget on projects that will come to fruition long after they can take credit. Why would anyone focus on problems that feel far away, like climate change, when there are pressing issues like terror waves and the cost of living?
Unfortunately, climate change is no longer peeking through the window, it’s already at our doorstep. In recent days we broke global records for heat, and Israel is expected to suffer a particularly hellish heatwave. We can no longer prevent the changes that will affect us all, but we can still mitigate some of the effects.
OK, one might ask, we already knew all this, what has changed? In fact, Israel’s strategy has changed drastically in this arena as of late. On the one hand, the IDF is taking into account the military consequences of weather conditions becoming more extreme, as well as natural resources depleting. On the flip side, Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman has taken multiple steps backward in Israel’s journey to becoming greener, from meeting with climate deniers to holding an “Environment 2050” conference with major polluters like Nesher (a concrete factory known for its high emissions) while leaving climate activists out.
Silman has happily abandoned most attempts at fighting for our collective future. The politically-driven outlier’s latest scheme was to use the environment as an excuse to quell the protests against the judicial reform. Choosing that most dangerous of environmental phenomena, Silman has designated the noise from the protests as public enemy number one, above all other climate crisis worries, deeming the noise of public outrage a “serious hazard.” While large events are known polluters, from the trash left at venues to the drain on energy resources, and even America’s sweetheart Taylor Swift has come under fire for jetting across states to perform, most climate activists have not named “the noise from demonstrations” in their top ten causes to combat.
How can we improve our inadequate preparation for climate change? The good news is that the technology exists. Israel is a top innovator when it comes to water scarcity and other environmental solutions. The scientists have defined clear goals and courses of action. We know what needs to be done.
Usually, the best place for private citizens to exercise influence on climate change is at the polls, voting to enact Green policies as we see in the EU. Unfortunately, Meretz, the only political party that used to have a Green policy in its platform, is not even in the Knesset. And so, we are left with the harsher option of letting the government know of our dissatisfaction – although, if Silman’s new bill passes, we might have to use our inside voice to let them know the world is ending.