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May 26, 2015 / 8 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Or Ashraf, 22, is Last Israeli Missing in Nepal

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Search and rescue teams are still hunting for 22-year-old Or Ashraf of Lehavim, the sole Israeli still unaccounted for in Nepal after last week’s devastating earthquakes.

Ashraf’s mother Orit met a state-funded El Al flight carrying 229 stranded Israelis from Nepal landed Tuesday afternoon in Israel at Ben Gurion International Airport, hoping to see her son or someone who had information about him. Among the rescued trekkers on that flight were 15 babies, including three premies.

The death toll in Nepal following the quakes and hundreds of aftershocks has risen to more than 5,000, a Nepalese home ministry official said Wednesday. It is believed the figure could reach as high as 10,000 by the time search and rescue teams complete their work, said Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala.

Ashraf, 22, had recently been discharged from the IDF. He was last heard from by his parents a week before the 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the region. He is believed to have been hiking in the Langtang region when the quake hit, but it is not clear whether he was alone or with others. Just before setting out on his hike, he told a friend in Langtang – Guy Yitzhak – that he might go alone.

So far, some 25 Israelis have already been rescued from the Langtang nature reserve, with another 30 waiting to be picked up some time on Wednesday.

There is a sense of urgency regarding those Israelis still awaiting rescue teams in remote areas and on mountain tops. There have been reports of violence against some Israelis and the helicopter teams by Nepalese in the mountains.

Approximately 70 Israelis have chosen to stay on in the country to help with rescue efforts, according to media reports. Forty others have been located but not yet reached due to their remote locations.

Jordan, Israel Sign Historic Red Sea-Dead Sea Rescue Deal

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Jordanian and Israeli officials signed a multi-million dollar deal on Thursday to rescue the Dead Sea from oblivion. The ceremony took place on the Jordanian shore of the Dead Sea, with Israel’s National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom signing on behalf of the Jewish State. His Jordanian counterpart, Water and Irrigation Minister Hazim el-Naser, signed on behalf of the Hashemite Kingdom.

The historic project began with a memorandum of understanding signed in Washington by Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian Authority leaders on Dec. 9, 2013.

The $800 million agreement authorizes the construction of a 65 to 80 million cubic meter capacity desalination plant in Aqaba, Jordan. The plant is to produce potable water that will benefit both nations.

In return for its purchase of some 45 m.cu.m. of potable water annually from Jordan, Israel will add 50 m.cu.m. To its current annual sale of water to Jordan from Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) in the north.

A 200-kilometer pipeline will supply Red Sea saltwater to replenish the shrinking waters of the Dead Sea, also benefiting both Israel and Jordan, whose borders share the shorelines of the lake on each side.

The memorandum of understanding worked out in 2013 also called for Israel to faciliate the direct sale of an additional 20 m.cu.m. of water from the Mekorot national water company to the Palestinian Authority.

Since the PA violated the terms of the Oslo Accords and unilaterally applied to the United Nations for membership as an independent Arab country – albeit within the current borders of Israel – many things have changed. The move circumvented any need to negotiate the issues of boundaries, security and economic or infrastructure issues with Israel and resulted in the two sides generally putting aside any further talk of joint projects.

“We are going to provide water from the Israeli system to the Palestinians at points where they need water, and we are going to start discussing with them as soon as possible,” Maya Eldar, an adviser to Minister Shalom told The Jerusalem Post.

Greenpeace Protests Against Drilling for Oil

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

“Greenpeace” members protested the exploration drilling for oil on the Golan Heights on February 02, 2015.

The Afek oil and gas company is set to do some exploratory drilling this week.

At least it wasn’t the Syrians protesting.

‘Race against Time’ To Contain Oil Spill Disaster in Eilat

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

The Israeli Environmental Protection Ministry said that the crude oil leak in southern Israel was four times bigger than first believed, and that as much as 1.3 million gallons of oil have polluted the Evrona Nature Reserve in Israel’s Arava area.

Ecologists have warned that it is very difficult to fully assess the damage caused to the reserve’s ecosystem, and that the area’s rehabilitation could take years.

The pipeline, which is maintained by the Ashkelon-Eilat Pipeline Company (AEPC), was breached last Thursday night, at a site some 12 miles north of the southern resort town of Eilat, sending crude oil gushing across an area stretching some four miles.

Rains in southern Israel on Tuesday skipped over the Arava, easing observers who feared that precipitation would speed up the flow of oil to Eilat.

Ministry officials criticized AEPC for using the operational confidentiality it is afforded under its license to conceal the magnitude of the leak. According to Israel’s Channel 2, the Environmental Protection Ministry has shut down the pipeline—a major oil conduit running between the Mediterranean and the Red seas—barring AEPC from resuming its operations pending a full review of its permit.

The Environmental Protection Ministry and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority have launched an emergency operation to try to contain the pollution. More than 20,000 tons of contaminated soil had been removed by cleanup crews by Tuesday morning. An Environmental Protection Ministry official on Tuesday defined cleanup efforts as “a race against time.”

Eilat resident Lisa Mellish has filed a $96 million class action lawsuit against AEPC on behalf of the residents of Eilat, saying they were exposed to toxic fumes as a result of the leak. The lawsuit alleges gross negligence on the company’s part, which it says resulted in the ecological disaster in the Arava.

AEPC issued a statement about the leak saying the company “followed all emergency protocols from the moment the leak was discovered and reported it to all necessary bodies in real time.”

(Israel HaYom/Exclusive to JNS.org)




Israel’s Controversial Plastic Bag Law Delayed

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

On January 1, Israel was expected to implement a controversial plastic bag law, designed to kill plastic shopping bags in stores and replace them with more inconvenient, but reusable canvas bags.

MK Miri Regev (Likud) who heads the Knesset’s Interior and Protection of the Environment Committees announced that the controversial law was being delayed for the foreseeable future. Regev said the law is a difficult and complicated one, and requires a serious discussion about its downsides, and therefore should not be rushed into implementation.

The Department of Environmental Protection is pushing to have the law implemented quickly.

Regev said the cost of the law is too high for the public to bear, and wanted to make sure that this law wasn’t turning into someone’s cash cow, specifically referring to Israel’s Treasury department which overseas all tax collection, according to a Ynet report.

The law set the price for plastic shopping bags at 30 agurot (7.8 cents) a bag, which is 800% more than the cost of the bag. It is an unnecessary expense on the public, Regev said.

The committee pointed out the absurdity that the environment-tax law designated 80% of the revenue from the new bag tax directly to the Treasury department, while only 20% of the revenue would go towards environmental projects.

She said the Treasury Department estimated it would pick up an additional 1.1 billion shekels from the law, and therefore had a vested interest in pushing it. There is also concern that the Treasury will insert a VAT charge on top of the bag tax, and demanded that a VAT exemption be placed on the bag’s fees.

The Ministry of the Environment reported that revenue from the bags would only be NIS 200 million, as the number of plastic bags the public would buy and use would be significantly reduced.

Another issue Regev raised is that logistically, no one is actually prepared to implement the law.

Representatives from the plastic bag manufacturing industry say the law would be a “death blow” for them, and one suggestion is that all the tax bag revenue go to the environment with some compensation paid to plastic bag manufacturers for damages.

Environment Minister Amir Peretz, who recently quit his ministerial position and was championing the law, told the committee that the retail supermarket chains agreed on a compensation solution for plastic shopping bag manufacturers to allow them to change their production lines.

The Department of Environmental Protection reported to the committee that every family would receive 8 vouchers in the mail along with their electric bill. The vouchers would be traded in for reusable canvas bags. Canvas bags would also be distributed outside supermarkets and convenience stores for those who didn’t receive the vouchers.

Knesset Eco-Terrorism Bill Hurts Shoppers, Hurts Environment and Hurts Pocketbook

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

I know it sounds so pedestrian compared to the more serious problems Israel faces, but the Knesset’s new eco-terrorism “bag tax” bill annoys me. It will make our country a dirtier place, and add a needless expense (tax) onto an already heavily taxed consumer.

The Knesset just passed the first of three votes to try and kill the plastic shopping bag.

It will require that supermarkets charge you 30 agurot per plastic shopping bag you take. Every household will be given (somehow) 7 permanent cloth bags instead. Maybe they’ll hand them out with the gas masks.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when we go shopping for my family, we require far more than 7 bags (and we have to be able to lift them, so we aren’t going to overload them either). And when we get home, we don’t throw those plastic shopping bags away.

We recycle them.

Some bags line the garbage bins in the bathrooms.

Other bags are used for dirty diapers.

Another sits in my car for collecting garbage there.

Hareidim use them to protect their hats from the rain.

My neighbor (thankfully) uses his to pick up his dog’s poo, so the rest of us don’t have to step in it.

In fact, most Israelis I know recycle their plastic bags.

But now, a bunch of Knesset members (many I suspect don’t do their own shopping, clean their own houses, have large families, or pick up after their dogs) want to destroy this incredibly useful, recyclable and reusable tool.

Did you know that in 2002, in Ireland, when they imposed a shopping bag tax, shopping bag usage dropped 90%, just like their government wanted.

Instead, it had the unintended consequence of packaged plastic bags sales rising 400% in response. In fact, there was a  net gain in plastic bag usage. People were simply forced to buy them instead, and they even bought more.

Maybe some of our Knesset Members should read this fact sheet before the next vote.

Here’s a quick excerpt:

“The Scottish Environment and Rural Development Committee concluded that a plastic bag tax in Scotland would increase waste arisings by 13,742 tonnes.”

Here’s another interesting tidbit, the amount of tax money collected as a result of the Irish bag tax went up, which makes one wonder about the true motivation behind the Knesset’s bag tax.

It’s also a myth that plastic bags kill masses of fish and wildlife like some eco-terrorists claim.

I wonder if our MKs even know what percent of landfill garbage plastic shopping bags make up. Maybe the MKs would like us to stop throwing away garbage completely, then our landfills would never fill up at all.

The Knesset doesn’t even wants us to switch to the more expensive, dual-use, biodegradable paper bags (which require more resources and energy to make, and take up more space per bag, but at least you can pick up dog poo with them).

By the way, in 2008, a 16 year old discovered how to biodegrade plastic bags in only 3 months.

And don’t think those 7 cloth bags are so eco-friendly in the long term. They get dirty and moldy, and you need to use up (expensive) water to wash them, otherwise bacteria builds up.

For health reasons, let me repeat that, you MUST wash these bags.

A 2010 joint University of Arizona and Limo Loma University study found that “Reusable grocery bags can be a breeding ground for dangerous foodborne bacteria and pose a serious risk to public health”. The study found that 97% of users did not wash them and that greater than 50% of the 84 bags contained coliform (a bacteria found in fecal material), while E. coli was found in 12% of the bags.

There’s a cost to making them too. And don’t get me started about what happens when the milk container leaks. And you’re obviously going to have to buy more than 7 of them if you plan to take your shopping home, especially if you want to be able to lift the bag. And when they start to rip, you’ll be throwing them away too.

A United Kingdom Environment Agency unpublished study in 2005 found that the average cotton bag is used only 51 times before being thrown away.

The problem is, a cotton bag actually needs to be used 131 times before it becomes better for the environment.

How many plastic shopping bags do you need, to take up the same amount of landfill space as one discarded cloth bag?

My guess (just a guess, I haven’t checked) is around 50. So if my guess is right, your 7 (initial) cloth bags will take up the space of 350 plastic shopping bags when you throw them away. And don’t forget, the average family will need to buy a few more each year to handle a normal weekly shopping.

And let’s not even talk about the inconvenience of having to take them with you everywhere in case you want to go shopping.

If our MKs want to really help our environment, they would stop the Arabs from wantonly burning their garbage everywhere in every open field they have.

Our MKs have an obligation to review this controversial bill before passing it, to determine what the real impact to our convenience, environment and pocketbook will be.

If they find that there is a clear, unequivocal benefit and the (clearly) predictable unintended consequences don’t negate its supposed benefits, then I won’t stand in their way.

But even if the sources I found are slanted, it is clear that the benefits are not as clear cut as the eco-terrorists would have you believe.

As I see it, this law, if it passes, amounts to nothing more than a new tax on households with babies, dogs, hats, and most everyone else.

We need plastic shopping bags to keep Israel clean.

Israelis Invent Revolutionary Alternative Fuel

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers have invented a process to make a green feed alternative for crude oil out of two of the most common substances on Earth – water and carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas detrimental to the environment.

Profs. Moti Herskowitz and Miron Landau, along with Dr. Roxana Vidruk and the team at BGU’s Blechner Center of Industrial Catalysis and Process Development have developed a green feed that can be converted using well-established technologies into liquid fuel and delivered using existing infrastructure to gas stations. As opposed to other alternative fuel sources, such as electric cars, which require additional infrastructure, this green feed would merely replace oil as the input for refineries.

The project is partially supported by I-SAEF (Israel Strategic Alternative Energy Foundation).

Herskowitz unveiled the revolutionary breakthrough at the Bloomberg Fuel Choices Summit in Tel Aviv last week.

“It is an extraordinary challenge to convert carbon dioxide and hydrogen to green feed,” says Herskowitz. “The technology is based on novel specially tailored catalysts and catalytic processes. Well-established, commercially available technology can be directly applied to the process developed at BGU. It is envisaged that the short-term implementation of the process will combine synthetic gas produced from various renewable and alternative sources with carbon dioxide and hydrogen.”

Prof. Herskowitz, who is the Israel Cohen Chair in Chemical Engineering and the VP & Dean at BGU, indicated that the new process should become a reality in the near future. “Since there are no foreseen technological barriers, the new process should become a reality within five to ten years,” he says.

Regarding other alternative fuels, Herskowitz maintains that his invention represents a game-changer.

“The liquids that have been used over the past decade are ethanol (alcohol), biodiesel and/or blends of these fuels with conventional fuels, as will continue to be done in the foreseeable future. These alternatives are, however, far from ideal, and there is a pressing need for a game-changing approach to produce alternative drop-in liquid transportation fuels by sustainable, technologically viable and environmentally acceptable processes from abundant, low-cost, renewable materials.”

Researchers at the Blechner Center have also developed a novel process for converting vegetable and algae oils to advanced green diesel and jet fuels.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israelis-invent-revolutionary-alternative-fuel/2013/11/17/

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