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Preparing for floods: The climate is changing but the authorities are ignoring it

Destruction of the beaches and serious damage to the marine environment in Eilat. The residents cried out, the authorities ignored

The promenade of Eilat. Infrastructure right on the coastline. Image:
The promenade of Eilat. Infrastructure right on the coastline. Image:

By Dr. Assaf Rosenthal

In March 2020, a strong southerly storm occurred in the Gulf of Eilat that caused extensive damage and destruction to some of the buildings on the beaches of Eilat. These are buildings that were erected in compliance with laws and regulations, but more than that, contrary to all logic and future thinking.

Anyone familiar with the local climate in the Gulf of Eilat knows that from time to time there are stronger than usual southerly storms. Anyone who cares about the natural environment knows that the laws that prohibit construction near the beaches are important not only because of the "builders", but also because of the need to avoid damage to the coastal and marine environment. And yet today a megalomaniacal development project is being implemented which is supposed to "rehabilitate the damage of the storm" according to the illusory plan. A project whose implementation is already harming the marine environment and it is very likely that at least part of it will be destroyed when the combination of sea level rise and the next storm comes.

Global warming causes the level of the oceans and seas to rise. Every now and then a survey is published that shows that the increase is happening faster than expected. Added to this recently was a survey that showed how large cities are sinking due to a combination of pumping that lowers the water level in local waters and added weight due to construction and development. Added to this is the serious damage to infrastructure such as: water, sewage, roads and more.

The combination of sinking and rising water levels is already causing countries to look for protection measures against the rising waters.
Islands in the Indian Ocean are already flooded and their population is looking for ways to move.

Without stopping the warming (and even if there is a stop), many coastal cities around the world will be flooded in the coming decades, unless they find ways to defend against rising sea levels. It is expected that due to the rise in the ocean level, warming and climate change - by 2050 about 100 million people in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands will be affected by the combination of the rise in the water level with intermittent floods and periods of drought.

There are examples of those who, under constraints, found solutions, for example in Venice they built floodgates that moderate the floods. Perhaps the best known are the dams that were built and are being built in the Netherlands already about a hundred years ago, dams with the help of which areas of land were "conquered" and which today protect the Netherlands from flooding.

In many countries there are activities in various stages of preparation and protection against the rising water, there are those who are already working in different ways. There are those who prepare action plans including the evacuation of the population and there are those (guess who) who are busy making statements and talking a lot and waving their hands but do nothing on the ground.

An exception is the Eilat case, where the authorities hired a planning company whose understanding of the marine environment in general and the Eilat Bay in particular is equal to its understanding of the climate - i.e. zero. Environmental bodies and residents who appealed to the mayor to change the offensive megalomaniac plans to mitigate the damage were brazenly ignored.

Already with the beginning of the works, you can see the result: destruction of the beaches and serious damage to the marine environment. There are those who speak out and there are those who shout and protest, but the authorities are closed and the destruction continues. The result is that already today enormous damage has been caused and it is doubtful whether it will be possible to repair or rehabilitate the damaged areas.

Against the offensive and unbridled activity of the project in Eilat, stand the inaction of the authorities on the Mediterranean coast and the lack of preparation and planning for events and disasters that will occur as a result of climate change (such as the talk versus the inaction in the treatment of the coastal Kurkar cliff). Faced with a megalomaniacal and offensive enterprise on the one hand and inaction on the other, there is room for a "motto" that I have been adding to my lists over the years: "It is appropriate that instead of controlling the environment for the sake of the human population - there should be control of the human population for the sake of the environment."

When surveys put the residents of Israel in the first places in their skills to pro and rave, when it turns out time and again that the Israelis break records in the generation of trash and scattering, when the Israelis are at the top in the generation of noise - it is clear how significant the "motto" is and how appropriate it is for our small corner. Which makes it clear that our situation is very bad.

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