The Unofficial English-language blog of the Israel Green Movement is proud to be powering up the blog – just in time for its 3 July primaries. Our guest blogger is Annabelle Eliashiv – undergraduate in political science at the University of Michigan and summer intern with the Israel Green Movement and the Israel Energy Forum.
She has already written three blog entries – condensed into one here below – reflecting her arrival in Israel and initial appraisal of the Israeli environmental scene. We welcome Annabelle and thank her in advance for breathing life back into the IGM English language blog. And now over to her:
Landing in Israel: Off the plane and into the local climate change debates
At the very start of summer, I landed in Israel. I anticipated Tel Aviv’s notorious weather to hit me immediately. But as the week passed, and I became more involved and aware of Israel’s environmental issues at hand, something stronger than the high eighties and 75-percent humidity grabbed my attention.
My first day, I attended a meeting that threw me right into the environmental debates and controversies in Israel. Throughout that week, I listened to and researched the status of environmental topics I had heard about in that meeting. Later in the week I had an opportunity to hear a report hosted by the Danish embassy “Rising Temperatures, Rising Climates.” It was particularly interesting to see and hear three organized presentations on Israel’s role in global warming and the water crisis. However, what I dare say was more interesting than the way global warming is anticipated to affect the Middle Eastern conflict, was listening to the comments after the report.
I sat in a room of fifty people, listening as professors and specialists raised questions, shared their opinions, and bluntly critiqued the report they had just heard. Through the long assertions of what will “actually” happen to Israel and statements of what “the real issue is,” I came to an enlightening, and refreshing, realization. There are people interested in the environment. There are people educated in environmental concerns. Of course, if you’re reading this, you have an interest degree of enthusiasm in the environment, but throughout this week in Israel, it has been hard to find the same interest in the general population.
Israel has, per capita, one of the most well-educated populations in the world, but the environmental sector of this education, it seems, is relatively new. Just because the election came and went does not mean that The Israel Green Movement- Meimad can stop working for support and popularity. The way I see it, it only means that now is the time to work harder. Start gaining support now. By reading this blog you’re agreeing to at least one thing: that you care. You care about the way this country turns out and its environment, so instead of being “just a reader”, become an advocate. Get involved. Educate the people who don’t know. Take part in making it so that next year not only does the Israel Green Movement- Meimad have a seat in the Knesset…make it a popular, well-respected and known seat. Who knows, maybe by then we’ll have enough votes to win 120 seats in the Knesset.
Learning from Savta – Energy use in a Haifa apartment
I spent the weekend with my grandmother. You might be thinking, “What does this have to do with the environment?” Well, over two days, I observed the way my grandmother lives in her apartment in Haifa and realized that she, a woman who never learned about greenhouse gases or global warming in high school, is doing more to conserve and protect the environment than, I think it would be safe to bet, a majority of the younger generations in Israel.
I walked into the greatly lit apartment and realized that not a single artificial light was on. Instead, the curtains were drawn back to reveal the beautiful valley below and allow the sun to light the room with her rays. I know it might sounds pretty romanticized and dramatic, but I promise you, not a single light was on. We didn’t have to turn on a light until the sun had set, and even then, she only flipped the switch in the room we were sitting in.
My grandmother, of course, offered me food and drink. She put a kettle on the stove and warmed us some water for coffee and tea. After we had finished our drinks, and ate some cake, she poured the remaining cooled water into a watering pot that she slowly filled and used to water the plants in her apartment.
She then washed the dishes by hand and let them dry. We closed the curtains and blinds, and went to sleep. The next morning (before noon –the start of peak hours), she put in a full load of laundry. After the cycle was finished, she hung the laundry on a line outside her window, letting the wind and sun dry them.
We spent the rest of the weekend conserving energy (both mine and the environment’s). So maybe we can use this as yet another lesson learned from our grandparents…who really do know best.
What will Israel’s role in the Copenhagen Climate Conference be?
On June 9th, an Environmental Day was hosted in the Knesset. Here, many different organizations met to discuss their progress and efforts in environmental protection. Throughout the day, presentations were made as plans for the future were drawn out and graphs of previous mistakes and accomplishments were cast onto a screen through Powerpoint presentations. After hours spent recounting the past year’s work and trying to get a grasp on what Israel has to offer the world, the topic of the international conference on climate issues arose. What will Israel be presenting at the Copenhagen Climate Conference this coming December? When the Kyoto Protocol was put together in 1997 and the framework for internationally decreasing greenhouse gas emissions was organized, Israel was still considered a developing country. However, after years of vast technological advancements and continuous CO2 emissions, Israel proudly holds the title of a developed, and polluting, country with the rest of the Western world. Before giving yourself a pat on the back, consider the ramifications that come with this title. Israel is now, as it has been, a leader. And should also be a leader in the environmental world. Come December, Israel should be ready to present the world a plan for environmental advancements, protections, alternatives – not attend to listen for recommendations. Israel should be able to stand amongst her peers with something to offer the world.
The democracy that Israel offers her citizenry is one that guarantees each person a voice. The day at the Knesset showed just a portion of the many voices there really are. After hours of presentations, the Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan ended the discussion with a request for all the environmental committees, organizations, NGOs and groups to come together. To use one voice. One strong voice to solidify the need for Israel to pursue environmental advancements. But the question is, how do you combine the organizations concerned with protecting Israel’s nature and those focused on alternative energy developments? How can you summarize the appeals for the preservation of nature, just animal treatment, decreased water pollution, increased recycling, lessening the landfills of trash, better air quality in Israel and make a plan that’s ready to execute and change the environment? The Copenhagen Conference on climate change and CO2 emissions is a reminder that Israel is a part of the international community and fight against global warming. Similarly, the day at the Knesset was an opportunity for Israel to consider what the many parts have given and must give to our country that is, too, a community of her own.