Post #4 – Environmental Challenges and Progress

Earth is big. It has a volume of approximately 260 billion cubic miles and a surface area of around 197 million square miles. Seventy-one percent of the planet is covered by water and 29 percent by land.

Earth is also small. Planes fly across continents, ships transport products across oceans and technology connects people from different nations. Almost everyone and everything is interconnected.

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Earth is a shared planet. Interconnectedness drives up the standard of living, educates citizens and results in a happier and healthier population. While these beneficial things are capable of transcending borders, so are the unfavorable. Examples of the latter is global climate change, mass extinction, the depletion of clean water and the overall decline of our planet.

Since Earth is a small, big-planet, things that affect one country affects all others, and Israel is not exempt.

Environmental Concerns

Its small size and lack of resources puts Israel at a high risk for environmental crisis. One of the biggest issues in the area is access to water. The arid climate of the region led to the construction of the “National Water Carrier,” a pipeline that runs water from Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) and the mountains into cities and supplies Israel with 73% of its water. Because of this technology, Israel is considered a global super-power when it comes to water innovation.

The above video highlights the positives of Israel’s current system, but it ignores the negative, long-term environmental effects. First, in order for the pipeline to work, the southern outlet of Lake Kinneret had to be dammed off. This has resulted in the southern Jordan River and the Dead Sea receiving less fresh water which has increased the salinity of both bodies. It has also caused a drastic change in the Dead Sea’s water level, which is declining at the rate of 1.2 meters a year. Second, since the transported Kinneret water is saltier than the groundwater it is replacing, crop production has suffered. Finally, counter to what the video says, Israeli’s overuse water by one billion cubic meters a year. All of these factors are quickly making the National Water Carrier, and all the progress Israel has made, obsolete.

Another environmental issue facing Israel is air pollution. In recent decades, the number of Israeli citizens who own and drive cars has increased, and as a result, so has air pollution.

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Air pollution in the Israel’s industrial region of Haifa Bay

Environmental Progress

Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry is the main authority on the country’s environmental issues and policies, but there are other groups and initiatives in the country making a difference.

First, to try and combat the air pollution epidemic, the bay city of Haifa has declared a “Clean Air Zone” in the center of the city. This zone prohibits high-polluting vehicles like diesel trucks from driving in more densely populated areas. In response, Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry has urged other cities to do the same.

Another group in the country is the Jewish National Fund. The JNF has planted over 240 million trees in Israel and built dams and reservoirs to collect the little rain water the country does get. And while the progress these groups are making in Israel is fantastic, its only a start. In order for stable, global change and a better world, Israel and other countries need to do more.

More could mean better regulations, higher standards or even just simple attempts to reduce waste. A step in the right direction is progress. This can be achieved through international cooperation and through organizations like the UN. In general, more developed countries aren’t willing to make changes which therefore discourages even less developed countries from doing the same. What we need is for countries like the United States to follow through with what they say they’re going to do about climate change and set the precedent in our big, small world.

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