Today is the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the state of Israel. Last week, on 12th April, Israel and other parts of the world marked Holocaust Remembrance Day.
One Jewish writer in New York decided an appropriate way to remember was to invent a Twitter hashtag #EnvironmentalEichmann to denigrate and demonise Trump’s head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt.
As you can see from clicking on the link the idea didn’t catch on. But how on earth have we got to this place … ?
Meeting Nir and Hilla
It was a privilege to hear Nir Shaviv, Israeli physicist, present on the Svensmark cosmic-ray hypothesis at the GWPF on 4th April, and to meet his wife and biomedical entrepreneur Hilla afterwards. (Check out http://www.galmedics.com for applied science with far clearer falsification in view compared to anything in climate.) Nobody present was surprised that Piers Corbyn gave – or tried to give – Nir a hard time on the evidence. At dinner afterwards I asked Nir if he was aware of the trouble Piers’ brother was in about antisemitism within the Labour Party. He was aware. He also made clear, both in the meeting and at the dinner, that in Israel there is no problem at all being a sceptic in academia. One or two people pay lip service to the consensus but there’s no antagonism and truly free debate.
A bit of a contrast with the work of Jeffrey Barken in NYC and those he may be influenced by or influence, perhaps including David Buckel. As Geoff quoted:
His family and friends acknowledged that Mr. Buckel had become distraught recently over the national politics of climate change — “all that’s going on with the Trump administration and the rollback by Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency,” Mr. Kaelber said, referring to agency’s embattled administrator, Scott Pruitt.
The demonisation can be costly.
Any comments in any direction welcome.
A lack of urgency regarding climate change in Israeli society and academia is seemingly confirmed by an advance summary of a forthcoming article by our old friends – the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science.
However, Israel, like most nations, has ratified the Paris Agreement.
Unlike many (e.g. see Paul Homewood’s recent post about Iran’s INDC), Israel’s INDC seems to be fairly serious.
“It runs to less than 5 full pages, so can be summarised relatively briefly. The following forms the thinking behind their proposals:
“Israel contributes about 0.2% of global emissions. Israel’s projected annual population growth is 1.8%, which is considerably higher than the OECD average. The assumption is that by 2030, Israel’s population will be approximately 10.6 million as compared to 7 million in 2005 and 8.4 million in 2015. The annual GDP growth per capita is currently 1.7% and is also growing at a faster rate than the OECD average.
Considering this projected growth in population and GDP, we believe that a per capita target for GHG emissions reduction is fair and appropriate for Israel.”
Having decided that per capita reductions rather than absolute reductions are in order, their offer is still quite impressive:
“Israel intends to achieve an economy-wide unconditional target of reducing its per capita greenhouse gas emissions to 7.7 tCO2e by 2030 which constitutes a reduction of 26% below the level in 2005 of 10.4 tCO2e per capita. An interim target of 8.8 tCO2e per capita is expected by 2025.
According to the most recent national greenhouse gas inventory prepared by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 were 83.04 MtCO2e, which is equivalent to 10.5 tCO2e per capita. Under an updated Business as Usual (BAU) scenario greenhouse gas emissions are expected to increase to 105.5 MtCO2e in 2030. This will be equal to 10.0 tCO2e per capita. Implementation of Israel’s national target will result in a reduction of 23.85 MtCO2e in 2030 bringing total emissions down to 81.65 MtCO2e.”
In other words, despite an anticipated significant increase in population, they are proposing a very slight reduction in GHG emissions – in absolute terms – by 2030. How will they do this?
“It is anticipated that the implementation plan will consist of, inter alia, the following:
The establishment of mechanisms leveraging large scale private funding together with public funding of energy efficiency projects;
A program of tenders for renewable energy. The 17% renewable energy target is substantially more ambitious than Israel’s current 10% target for 2020;
Removal of barriers for the uptake of renewable energy;
Measures to increase the use of natural gas. The recent discovery of additional natural gas reserves off the coast of Israel has and will continue to contribute to a partial switch from coal to natural gas in Israel’s fuel mix and which contributed to GHG emissions reduction between 2012 and 2015. The government is now working on the further development of gas fields, expected to have significant mitigation potential;
Further development of public transport systems in major metropolitan areas such as the construction of the Tel Aviv
metropolitan light rail; the extension of the intercity rail system and of the Jerusalem light rail.”
The development of their own natural gas fields would seem to be a very important element in the plan, given this:
“Israel is a small and densely populated country characterized by an expanding population and economic growth, facing land and water scarcity. Arid zones comprise over 45% of the area of the country while there is an exceptionally high degree of biological diversity that must be protected.
Electricity generation has been largely based on imported fossil fuels as Israel has no access to a number of widely used low-carbon sources of energy such as nuclear, hydro-electric and geothermal power. The country is an energy island, without the possibility of grid interconnectivity. There is limited surface area available for large-scale energy installations. The few available areas are subject to competing uses such as industrial development and housing, bio-diversity preservation, habitat conservation, agriculture and defense.
For many years, there has been significant use of solar heaters for water heating and greenhouse gas emissions from this source are substantially lower than the global average. An additional factor limiting Israel’s abatement potential is its small heavy industry sector with relatively low emission levels.”
So, a decent offer in the circumstances, in my view. And I can’t see them asking for money – at least if they are, the request isn’t contained within the INDC.
The involvement of those from Israel, Arabia etc is welcome in Science, whatever their individual Religious Faith and/or personal beliefs.
When it comes to Climate Science, it is interesting to note that Islam and Christianity both evolved out of Judaism, in an area of the world that was capable of sustaining farming as a commercial enterprise, as opposed to mere subsistence agriculture.
Clearly the climate has changed.
Why was Petra (Jordan) abandoned as an economic centre, that had been so prosperous?
Do you think it possible that Israelis have less of a hang up about climate change because they already live in a harsh climate but have partly tamed it by the application of good farming practices (or at the very least have done demonstrably better than neighbouring countries).
GolfCharlie: I’m uncertain if the climate has changed much, but certainly the native vegetation has. Goats have much to answer for.
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I wasn’t aware that JFK felt the UN might be a bit out of touch with reality(1):
“I cannot resist the feeling that the UN world is an immense and picturesque form of make-believe, and that it’s problems and crisis are remote from the serious issues of the day. I am sure that this feeling is wrong, certainly it is wrong in the long run; but it enables me to understand the inevitable gap between Washington and New York.”
It sounds, from Mark’s comment, that the Israeli plan to comply with the Paris accord are more than enough given the status of the Agreement- agreeing to move the target to 1.5C at Paris will become problematic in the short term as it leads more credence to the leave it in the ground folks(3).
Most of the countries in the middle east are likely a bit more concerned existentially about the conflicts in their neighborhood in the near, and mid, term than the potential impacts of CO2 levels in the year 2050 or 2100. Martin Van Creveld’s recent post (2) is a bit scary to contemplate.
1) A. Schlesinger, Journals.. “Oct 22, 1961 entry” just before a hilarious discussion late in the evening on the effect Randolph Churchill had on a party. I am still not sure which definition of “cuckholded” (ness) applies.
GolfCharlie. I’m not certain that the climate of Petra has changed very much in historical times. Petra lies within the southern part of the Jordan Rift Valley south of the Dead Sea and the Dead Sea sediments reveal continued hyper-aridity for thousands of years.* My wife, who had visited it, told me the city was a nexus of important trade routes and only survived because of good water management practices. The inhabitants were former desert nomads. The city declined when trade shifted to sea routes but particularly after annexation by the Romans. The water management system was damaged by earthquake at a time the city was weak, could not be repaired, and people moved away, wind-blown sand buried part of it, and it was forgotten 😭. I believe, if the water husbanding system were to be repaired, people could live again at Petra.
*Dead Sea sediments do show the region affected by climate change but these involve varying degrees of aridity.
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Alan Kendall, I have never been to Petra, but I am intrigued that a dry desert could support such wealth and investment without a reliable water supply.
A dried up water course runs through it.
Wikipedia notes the presumed skills of water catchment and management, but it still has to rain to produce some water to manage.
I do not understand how the Ancient Civilizations around the Mediterranean could have fed themselves in the current climate. Hence the views of those from such areas, whatever their religion are interesting, especially when compared with archeological evidence that ties in with religious accounts.
A mess was made of Egyptian history by Europeans trying to prove Biblical accounts. The idea that Climate Scientists mess with history, archaeology etc to prove a point, and mess things up, does have precedence
Israel’s INDC – an admirable solution to a non-problem. With all the on-going conflicts in the ME, does anyone, I wonder, include the emissions from all the weapons of war into the INDC’s?
Dennis – an admirable question! It’s one that Mrs H and I ask regularly. I suspect that the recording of emissions is as one-sided and adjusted as many temperature records.