Most of us know by now that our personal actions have global consequences. What and how much we drive, fly, eat, and shop, contributes to a litany of global environmental challenges, topped by climate change.
The mantra, ‘Think global, act local’, was adopted in the 1980s as a rallying cry for personal responsibility in a global age. Environmental concerns to this point had primarily been local; however a new generation of global environmental challenges were forcing people to look beyond their home communities.
Unfortunately, this new global vision came with its own challenges. While the statement’s sentiment is true, it often leaves the individual in a problematic place. Thinking global is too big! It’s hard to care about everything and everyone at the same time. It is human nature to focus on a smaller place or community. One of the unfortunate side effects of this movement is the all too common response, ‘What difference can one person make in a global crisis?’
For many Diaspora Jews already tied to two lands, the regions and countries in which we live and the Land of Israel, this challenge was even more apparent. “We Jews have enough of our own problems to worry about.” I have often heard. The global environment rarely won out.
Climate Change Threatens Israel and the Middle East
What the Diaspora Jewish community, the State and the people of Israel have not realized is that global environmental concerns like climate change, threaten Israel’s future as much as any of Israel’s unique security or economic challenges.
The recent fires in Israel have raised awareness about the drought that has struck Israel and the Middle East this year. This drought and the ensuing fires are just small signs of the climactic changes that have already begun to affect the region.
Climate model projections for Israel offer a pessimistic vision of a country and a region with increasing water shortages, desertification (loss) of arable land, and even more economic and political instability.
Predictions from Israel’s Ministry of the Environment, show global climate change will affect Israel in the following ways:
* Mean temperature increase of 1.6° to 1.8°C
* Reduction in precipitation by (-8)% to (-4)%,
* Increased rain intensity/changes in rainfall patterns
* More severe weather events, such as droughts and floods
* Mediterranean (desert) biomes expected to shift 300-500 km northward
Our Actions Can Help
Fortunately for us Diaspora Jews, climate change is a global issue with global solutions. We can make a difference in Israel’s future. Our actions, and the actions of our home communities and countries in fighting global climate change can set the stage for a politically, economically and environmentally stable Israel and the Middle East. By working to reduce the environmental footprint of our homes and communities, we are also, by extension, helping to ensure Israel’s access to freshwater, arable land and a stable Middle East.
Think Israel, Act Local!
This year, make environmental change a priority in your life to help Israel and the planet!
Reduce your carbon footprint. Drive less, fly less, eat less meat, turn off lights and other electrical devices when not in use. You know the list, you’ve heard it a hundred times before. And when you or someone you know gets lazy and asks, ‘Why global environmental issues? Don’t we Jews have enough of our own problem to worry about?’ – Think Israel and take local action on climate change!