Sea level rise is expected to damage hotels, power plants, desalination plants and settlements. If so, why is there no comprehensive preparation in Israel for the effects of sea level rise on coastal areas, despite estimates in Europe that such preparation could save billions?
Get your swimsuits and wetsuits ready: It looks like sea levels are going to rise dramatically as early as the 50s. Climate change continues, whether the new president of the United States believes it or not, and according to predictions, the melting of glaciers caused by climate change is expected to change the seas and coastal areas beyond recognition during this century.
The forecasts foreshadow an increase in the level of the oceans, Warming of the water temperature, An increase in the level of acidity of the sea water, An increase in the frequency of floods from the streams, and specific to our region - The disintegration of the coastal cliff וErosion of the grouping tables, which constitute a unique habitat for many species. These predictions are already partially realized, and are expected to change Israel's coastline as it is today.
Although according to Report of the International Panel on Climate Change As of 2013, the average global rise in sea level predicted until the end of the 21st century is about 74 centimeters according to the most severe scenario, since studies from the last year and a half, Like that of climate expert James Hansen, talk about an even more serious increase, of about three meters already during the next 50 years. Hansen claims that when the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica melt beyond a certain level, the rate of sea level rise will double over and over again - and therefore it is worth preparing for the rise in sea level to be sudden and sharp and not necessarily gradual, as is usually assumed.
Even if you refuse to accept these prophecies of rage, even the most reassuring forecasts speak of a rise in the sea level by a quarter of a meter or more by the middle of this century. That is, with a very high probability already in the coming decades a considerable rise in the sea level is expected to occur which will affect most regions of the world - and Israel as well.
A particularly sensitive sea
Israeli residents' awareness of the effects of climate change is low to non-existent. Few people know, for example, that climate change means not only warming, but also extreme climate events, like those that bring with you fierce floods in the winter and huge fires in the dry seasons. In the same way, few in Israel are aware of the consequences of sea level rise, even though it is just around the corner and in many parts of the world it is taken very seriously and prepared for while investing considerable budgets.
The rise of the sea level may, in fact, change the surface as we know it today, and along the way damage many facilities that we now take for granted. Imagine what will happen to Israel's drinking water supply when the sea water rises and damages the operation of the desalination facilities, the pride of the State of Israel? What damage is expected to tourism and the economy in Israel when hotels, restaurants and dozens of businesses on the coastal cliff will be damaged by the consequences of the rising sea level? Power plants, military bases, residences and many other facilities that we rely on on a daily basis are currently located on the coastline, and it is hard to imagine the price we will have to pay to adapt them to the changing reality. The sea level rise will also raise the surface of the streams and make them more susceptible to flooding, and these will reach deeper inland and cause more serious damage. also, In the event of a tsunami, the massive water wave will "ride" on the new water level, something that will strengthen it and allow it to go deeper into the land.
The Mediterranean region is perceived by the scientific community as an area with increased climatic sensitivity. According to the forecasts, the region is expected to experience warming in the next decades, in the form and decrease of precipitation. Some projections regarding sea level rise suggest that they are expected to rise at a higher rate than the global average data. as per A document of the Society for the Protection of Nature From 204, based in this part onThe work of Dov Rosen, the rise in the level of the Mediterranean Sea in the years 2002-1992 occurred at a rate of 10 mm per year - more than the global average during these years, which was about 0.4-2.6 mm per year, and more than the rate during the rest of the twentieth century, which was about 1- 2 mm per year. In the years 2013-2001, the rate of increase, as measured at the monitoring station in Hadera, actually moderated a little, and was about 6 mm per year; And still the rate is higher than the average global rate.
It is cheaper to prepare in advance
so what are we doing? How do we prepare for these frightening predictions, and make sure to maintain the security of the country's citizens, their place of residence and the source of livelihood for so many? The answer may not be simple, but there are countries that already understand the need to prepare for sea level rise and integrate it into their maritime and coastal planning. The main reason why it is necessary to prepare already now (or maybe already yesterday) for sea level rise is economic: Reports of the European Union They show that financial investment in proper preparation today will be negligible compared to the costs of restoring the damage caused by sea level rise in the future. According to the reports, in the relatively optimistic scenario according to which the sea level in Europe will rise by 37 cm by 2080, the estimated economic damage - assuming that the coastal defense systems are not upgraded - will jump to 25 billion euros per year. However, it is claimed there, if preparation efforts are carried out across the continent, the expected costs will be greatly reduced and reduced to 3.5 billion euros per year in 2020, and approximately 8.6 billion euros per year "only" in 2080.
In Australia, for example, the Department of Environment and Energy of the Australian government established a tool called CoastAdapt, and it provides accessible information and possible solutions to policy makers and decision makers on risk management, preparation strategies according to local forecasts. Since Australia is a federation that is divided into states, each of which has a local government, each state prepares for sea level rise in its area and issues guidelines for building houses and infrastructure in the coastal area according to the predicted height of sea level rise.
In Israel, on the other hand, there is not a single body whose role it is to outline a guiding policy on the issue of sea level rise. The body responsible for preparing for climate change is currently the Ministry of Environmental Protection, but it does not provide guidelines to entities such as cities, other government ministries and planning bodies on how to behave when planning new buildings or protecting existing buildings and facilities. There are indeed certain bodies that choose to do this on their own initiative, and in the expansion plan for the ports of Haifa and Ashdod The extensions were planned to adjust to the rise in the water level up to 30 cm, but there is no comprehensive directive on the subject from any governmental or planning body.
The sea falls between the chairs
In recent years, two significant plans have been drawn up in Israel that relate to Israel's maritime space: one is "Naval program for Israel", conducted through the Center for the Study of the City and the Region in the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning at the Technion; And the second is "Israel Maritime Space Policy Project" of the Planning Administration, the entity responsible in the State of Israel for formulating a national planning policy. Both programs were created with the aim of creating a planning order in the maritime space belonging to Israel, mapping its users and uses (such as marine reserves, areas for gas and oil exploration and production, fishing areas, port and shipping areas, etc.) and proposing a long-term planning strategy. Although work on the plans began more or less at the same time, the Technion's plan was already completed and its results were published in November 2015, while the "Israeli Maritime Policy Project" is after the stages of collecting the background material and in the process of writing the policy document for the government.
Both programs reviewed the issue of climate change in the context of the marine and coastal environment at a certain level. The recommendations of the Planning Administration on the matter - if there will be any - cannot yet be known, because the document has not yet been published. But according to the background chapter published to the public, there does not seem to be extensive reference to climate change preparations. Dr. Dov Tzvieli, head of a qualified program in "Marine Resources Management" at the Rupin Academic Center, also coordinates the field of physical planning as part of the policy document of the "Policy Project for the Planning of Israel's Maritime Space". Tzviali claims that "at the current stages of the plan, it is too early to talk about issues of climate change forecasts, although the issue comes up from time to time on the agenda in various aspects." In addition, he notes that, to the best of his knowledge, "there is no specific chapter in the policy document that talks about ways to deal with rising sea level (if it occurs), but it is important to note that this document is not intended to solve coastal problems, but to deal with the planning of the maritime space as a whole.' The document, according to him, is intended to "regulate uses of the maritime space, establish priority orders for users in the various territories and determine and adjust activities, while preserving the maritime and coastal environment."
In the Technion's maritime program there is a reference to climate change and sea level rise, but the main recommendations of the program are to invest in monitoring and developing studies that will allow a better understanding of the issue - and not concrete coping measures. Dr. Alik Adler, the author of the chapter dealing with climate change, explains that "the maritime plan is a document originating from an academic institution, and it is a proposal for a policy document. The plan was widely publicized and thus was placed on the government's table after the considerable efforts of many researchers and experts had been put into its compilation for about three years. Our essential and most important recommendation in the field of climate change is that when the State of Israel enters into writing a strategic document on preparing for climate change, there will be a special and specific chapter dealing with coastal and sea matters.
And what has the government done about it in recent years? Already in 2009, a government decision was made to establish a committee of CEOs to formulate a national action plan for preparing for and adapting to climate change in Israel. The committee, chaired by the Director General of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, was supposed to submit the action plan within two years of the decision, but seven and a half years later the plan has not yet been published. The Ministry of Environmental Protection stated in response that "as part of the national plan for preparing for climate change, the ministry will submit to the government a document of recommendations that addresses the effects of climate change on Israel's maritime and coastal areas. More information on climate change in the coastal environment can be found on the website of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
Too many stakeholders
So, out of three bodies that recently dealt with the issue of preparing for climate change in the maritime space of the State of Israel, only the academic program drafted by the Technion reached completion and was placed on the government's table. This situation points to the main problem in the field of preparing for climate change in Israel, and specifically regarding sea level rise: as of today, there is not a single authority that is actually responsible for the issue of the sea, or an authority that is responsible for drawing up guidelines on preparing for climate change in all sectors. Therefore, the issue falls by the wayside and does not receive the proper attention that such a burning issue warrants.
"The number of stakeholders in this story is enormous," says Prof. Ofira Elon, former head of the Israeli Knowledge Center for Climate Change Preparedness, who currently serves as the head of the Center for Natural Resources and Environment Research at the University of Haifa and head of the environmental quality field at the Shmuel Na'aman Institute. "There are many bodies that have a bearing on the issue of the impact of climate change on the sea and coastal area: starting with the army and the Ministry of Defense, which have bases and facilities in the coastal areas, through the electric company and essential desalination infrastructures, continuing in the cities that lie along the coast and ending with the Nature and Parks Authority, which has reserves in these areas. In the region, which may be exposed to these changes, there are multiple stakeholders, and the fear is that due to the multiplicity of authorities, when a disaster occurs, each one will dump the responsibility on the other.
"The national plan for preparing for climate change has been in the preparation stages for years at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and should examine readiness for sea level rise as well," she adds. "But the problem is that the plan overrules many decrees, and the question is what will actually be done in the end and who will be responsible (both for promoting preparedness and for the response when, God forbid, the predictions come true). In terms of preparations for extreme events, for example, the National Emergency Authority (NAE) should be aware of the conclusions and recommendations and prepare as soon as possible, and realize that expected extreme events are part of climate change.
"There is no doubt that there should be a body that will take care of the issue of preparation," concludes Elon. "If there is an authority specifically dedicated to the topic of climate change, then this authority will also be responsible for preparing for coastal issues, both for the issues at the local level and for directives at the political level - seeing the broad picture of all the different sectors that climate change is expected to affect."
See more on the subject on the science website: