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Issues of the Day Climate Change and Israel’s Week of Fire

The fires that burned in the Judean Hills and the Jerusalem Corridor, Zichron Yaakov, the city of Haifa and other places in Israel and the West Bank last week were fanned by searing easterly winds. 


The groundcover that burned was easy fodder for a machine spark, recklessly-disposed match or, as is now estimated to have been the case in 40-50 percent of the blazes, intentional arson, an old-new addition to terrorism’s arsenal.


But there is another threat underlying the fires, one that has barely been discussed but which is as much a strategic challenge to Israel and its neighbors as terrorism and armed conflict: climate change.


Intensifying Drying

The trees and plants that went up in flames had been desiccated by extraordinarily dry conditions, which though inherent to the largely arid and semi-arid Middle East has been steadily intensifying.


I discuss the science behind these trends in an article titled, “Beyond the Fires: Climate Change,” published in the Nov. 30, 2016 The Times of Israel.  


Israel’s strategic planners and its public – and those of countries everywhere --  must recognize that climate change is not an abstraction but a concrete development that stands to change virtually all aspects of our lives. Unless we prepare accordingly, through mitigation and adaptation, the future looks bleak indeed.


Environmental Resilience through Cooperation
This immense challenge offers a silver lining of sorts: neighboring peoples, through resource sharing, joint planning and combined efforts to strengthen  environmental resilience, may find through such concerted action the will to put conflicts aside.


This could be an opportunity for Israelis and Palestinians, and other nations with troubled relations, to overcome the past and look to the future.


© Yosef Gotlieb, . All rights reserved