חוף הים תל אביב מזג אוויר
Tel Aviv residents heading to the beach due to the warm weather
Photo: Reuters
Tel Aviv residents heading to the beach due to the warm weather

Scientists say Israel may become a desert by the end of the century

As temperatures around the country averaging at 40°C, environmental experts warn that greenhouse gas emissions stand behind the extreme weather, side effects from atmospheric damage will be severe

Noa Fisher |
Published: 05.19.20 , 12:46
Experts believe that the extreme heatwave besetting Israel, which might give 2020 the dubious title of "warmest year in history," is a direct result of climate change.
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  • The current warm spell is expected to last until the weekend, with temperatures averaging at 40°C (105°F) throughout the country.
    חוף הים תל אביב מזג אווירחוף הים תל אביב מזג אוויר
    Tel Aviv residents heading to the beach due to the warm weather
    (Photo: Reuters)
    "The past decade has been warmer than usual and it's getting warmer each year, for longer periods and with more extreme weather as a result," said Prof. Uri Shanas from The University of Haifa Faculty of Sciences at Oranim College. "Scientists' predictions are coming true right before our eyes. Global warming is here, it's no longer the future."
    Prof. Shanas pointed out that the average temperature is twice as warm as the global average.
    "If we look at future predictions, all of Israel will become a desert by the end of the century," he said. "Temperatures in the more temperate Galilee will be the same as in the Negev Desert."
    Prof. Colin Price at The Tel Aviv University Department of Geophysics points to greenhouse gases, which are attributed to global warming, as the reason for the extreme weather.
    בעלי החיים בגן החיות הלימודי בחיפה מצטננים בעומס החוםבעלי החיים בגן החיות הלימודי בחיפה מצטננים בעומס החום
    A white tiger in Haifa's zoo cooling off during the heatwave
    (Photo: Haifa Municipality )
    "We are witnessing a dramatic increase in greenhouse gases from industry, electric production, power stations, transportation, and so forth," said Prof. Colin Price.
    Explaining why greenhouse gases also affect the climate, Prof. Price said that "these gases act like a blanket. The more there are, the more heat gets trapped, and Earth gets warmer as a result, without being able to release that heat."
    "One of the side effects is the oceans becoming warmer and causing more evaporation from water and plants into the atmosphere," he said. "This condensation is the source of violent storms. The more humidity, the more violent, large, and frequent the storms become."
    He did point out that in regions where there is not enough evaporation to create rain, the eventual result is the ground and plants becoming drier and drier, finally leading to mass droughts.
    שקיעה בפתח תקווהשקיעה בפתח תקווה
    Sunset in Petah Tikva
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi )
    "It's already agreed by most scientists around the world that global warming is caused by greenhouse gases," said Prof. Shanas. "Every year shows a steep climb in these gases in the atmosphere, all coming from us humans. There is no reason to believe this uptick is caused by naturally."
    Despite the grim predictions, there may be hope for change. One example is "This is My Earth", a green-minded organization founded in 2015 by Prof. Shanas.
    The goal of the group is to acquire land across the world, through the help of volunteers and donors, and turn them into protected nature reserves.
    These reserves are not meant to protect wildlife, but to help stop global warming through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions reaching the atmosphere through deforestation or industry.
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