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February 9, 2016 / 30 Shevat, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Obama to Meet Putin at Paris Climate Change Conference

Monday, November 9th, 2015

On the surface, it seems odd that U.S. President Barack Obama and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin both are taking the time and trouble to attend a global climate change conference this month in Paris.

But both were asked to speak on the first day of a conference in which thousands from around the world are planning to participate. Both are also involved in a life-threatening battle in Syria that now appears to have spread to Egypt despite the best efforts of Western fighters.

It is possible — likely even — the two leaders may find time to discuss their mutual concerns while at the conference for climate control as well, albeit away from the very interested eyes of the media.

More than 100 other leaders of nations joined the two world leaders Sunday as they arrived in Paris to prepare the groundwork for the talks at the COP 21 event. The three-day conference is convened with the aim of reaching the most ambitious accord ever — aimed at limiting greenhouse emissions that cause global warming.

Despite being one of the driest nations in the world, has become a world leader in the management of precious ecological and environmental resources, particularly water.

The European Union Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen sat down with Avi Gabbay, Israel’s Environmental Protection Minister last week and ambassadors of EU member states for a working breakfast to prepare for the Paris conference.

Organizers are hoping to reach a new global climate deal at the conference by the time the event reaches its last day in December.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a win-win situation, for the environment and for the economy, in Israel and in the EU,” said Gabbay. “Governments and business leaders must work together to reduce emissions, and foster a global transition to a low-carbon economy. We look forward to continuing our cooperation with the EU and its members on this issue,” he said.

“French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabian told international media that Putin accepted an invitation to speak on the first day of the conference, scheduled for Nov. 30-Dec. 11. He is to be joined by Obama, as well as the leaders of India and China on that first day, but the Kremlin has yet to confirm his participation, according to the Associated Press.

Some 40,000 people are expected to attend the gathering in addition to thousands of activists from the fields of human, environmental and ecological rights.

Forest Fire in Gush Etzion’s Gevaot Forest

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

A forest fire was blazing in the Gush Etzion bloc in Judea on Sunday morning.

Fire officials ordered the closure of Route 367, in order to keep motorists safe from the flames in the Gevaot Forest.

It is not yet clear how the fire got started.

Kerry Tweets that Trump Is Disqualified to Run for President

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

The American Secretary of State now has promoted, or demoted, himself to be the sole judge of whether a presidential candidate’s positions qualify him to be president of the United States of America.

John Kerry’s problem with Republican candidate Donald Trump is the maverick billionaire scoffs at global warning, a subject that is close to Kerry’s heart, perhaps even more than the “peace process.”

Trump, whose expertise on everything often is not supported by any knowledge, tweeted this week:


The Donald is sure he is right because cold weather stormed into the East Coast Monday, not unusual for mid-October.

Liberal media had a field day mocking Trump, but no one went so far as Kerry to “disqualify” a man because he thinks differently from the Secretary of State, whose expertise on world matters often is not supported by knowledge or common sense.

Kerry tweeted:


However, Kerry’s judgmental attitude reflects to a certain extent that of President Barack Obama, whose press secretary Josh Earnest said last May of those who are against a United Nations climate treaty:

Well these are individuals whom, many of whom at least, deny the fact that climate change even exists. So I’m not sure they would be in the best position to decide whether or not a climate change agreement is one that is worth entering into.”

In other words, the “freethinkers” draw the line when someone does not think like they do.

Israeli Scientists Find Coral Reefs Under Attack From Sun Screen

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

A new study published this week in the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology has found that a chemical widely used in personal care products such as sun screen, poses an ecological threat to corals and coral reefs, threatening their existence.

Oxybenzone (also known as BP-3; Benzophenone-3) is found in over 3,500 sun screen products worldwide. It pollutes coral reefs from swimmers wearing sun screens, and through wastewater discharges from municipal sewage spillage and from coastal septic systems.

The study comes less than two weeks after NOAA declared the third-ever global coral bleaching event and warned that locally produced threats to coral – such as pollution – stress the health of corals and decrease the likelihood that they will resist bleaching, or recover from it.

Toxic effects of the sun screen UV filter, oxybenzone, on coral planulae (baby coral) demonstrates that exposure of the coral to the chemical produces gross morphological deformities, damages their DNA, and, most alarmingly, acts as an endocrine disruptor.

The latter causes the coral to encase itself in its own skeleton leading to death. These effects were observed to be as low as 62 parts per trillion, the equivalent to a drop of water in six and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Measurements of oxybenzone in seawater within coral reefs in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands found concentrations ranging from 800 parts per trillion to 1.4 parts per million. This is over 12 times higher than the concentrations necessary to impact on coral.

The research team involved in the study included marine scientists from Israel, Virginia, Florida, the U.S. National Aquarium and the U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.

Among the Israeli researchers were two from Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

Prof. Ariel Kushmaro is head of the Environmental Biotechnology Lab, The Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering, The Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology and National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev. Researcher Yona Lichtenfeld is a member of the university’s Department of Life Sciences.

“We have lost at least 80% of the coral reefs in the Caribbean,” warned lead study author Dr. Craig Downs of Haereticus Environmental Laboratory Virginia.

“Any small effort to reduce oxybenzone pollution could mean that a coral reef survives a long, hot summer, or that a degraded area recovers. Everyone wants to build coral nurseries for reef restoration, but this will achieve little if the factors that originally killed off the reef remain or intensify in the environment.”

Professor Kushmaro added, “There is widespread use of sun screens which utilize chemicals from the benzophenone group in sun and UV-intensive Israel. According to measurements not included in the article, similar concentrations of benzophenone have been found near the coral reefs in Eilat.

“Since it is likely that these chemicals are being washed off of swimmers’ bodies, it stands to reason that concentrations would be higher in swimming and snorkeling areas such as the coral reef reserve in Eilat,” the professor said.

The study found that oxybenzone is a photo-toxicant with adverse impacts exacerbated in light. But even in darkness, planulae were transformed from a motile (mobile) state to a deformed, sessile (immobile) condition and showed an increasing rate of coral bleaching in response to increasing concentrations of oxybenzone.

Between 6,000 and 14,000 tons of sun screen lotion are leaked into coral reef areas each year, much of which contains between one and 10% oxybenzone, the researchers said.

They estimated this puts at least 10 percent of global reefs at risk of high exposure, based on reef distribution in coastal tourist areas. This study is one of less than two dozen scientific studies that closely examine the impact of personal care product ingredients on marine organisms and habitats.

Israeli Company Building First Wind Turbine Farms in 30 Years

Friday, September 25th, 2015

An Israeli company is building wind energy farms for the first time in the country in 30 years. .

Afcon Holdings, a part of the Shlomo Group, is building two farms that will house 25 wind turbines each in Ramat Sirin and Ma’aleh Gilboa, south of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).

The turbines will produce 21 megawatts of electricity at any moment and will become operational in 2016, reported Yediot Acharonot.

Israel’s first wind farm was built 30 years ago in the Golan Heights,

The plan for a wind farm at Ramat Sirin was approved 10 years ago after the National Planning and Building Board’s committee rejected augments by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel that the farm will damage a scenic open space.

The new wind farms did not receive a green light also overcoming several hurdles by Israel’s Electric Authority and the IDF. Geographically, there are also few sites in Israel with winds strong enough to justify a wind turbine farm.

Some environmental groups also oppose wind farms due to fear that the turbines could harm birds.

The new turbines will measure 29 meters (95.1 feet) each and will produce 850 kilowatts of energy an hour per turbine.

Record-Breaking Haze to Stay the Week in Israel

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Israelis woke up Wednesday to Day 2 of the worst smoggy haze recorded during the month of September in Israel in the past 75 years. In fact, the level of pollution in the air registered at 140 times the “normal” level, according to Hebrew-language broadcast media on Tuesday.

Worse, locals are being warned it’s not going to get any better, at least until the weekend and possibly right into Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, which starts Sunday night.

The heavy dust-sand-smog settled down on the Middle East early Tuesday morning and simply hasn’t budged, moving in from across the north in Iraq and Syria.

Satellite image of smog storm sweeping across Israel from the north, in Iraq and Syria.

Satellite image shows smog storm sweeping across Israel.

Usually sand storms in Israel are intense, but brief, coming in from the Egyptian Sahara in the south.

A warm current of air is complicating matters, stretching from Saudi Arabia to the eastern Mediterranean, colliding with this smog cloud and spiking temperatures over 100 degrees Farenheit according to meteorologists. Due to the lack of any strong winds, conditions are not likely to improve until next week.

The presence in the air of toxic particles and pollutants dragged along with the cloud and combined with the intense heat, are making it very difficult for many people to breathe.

Meteorologists have issued a heat warning for the entire country, lasting from 9 am to 9 pm on Wednesday. In particular, the valleys and eastern parts of the country were warned there are likely to be especially high temperatures.

Visibility throughout Israel had already dropped Tuesday to approximately a mile or less (just over a kilometer). Average visibility for buildings is generally eight to 10 kilometers. In the valley areas smog and fog can be especially dense, particularly at night. Drivers are warned to be on guard and to drive slowly with hazard lights through valleys with narrow or less-traveled roads.

Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry has ordered schools to cancel all outdoor activities and school trips. The ministry is also suggestion all class recess period be held indoors and all gym classes be held in closed gymnasiums.

Most Israelis already “know the drill” and upon rising Tuesday morning, took one look and closed all the windows in their homes to try and minimize the coating of dust and sand that inevitably creeps in, no matter what.

Israeli health officials are also advising anyone with heart and lung conditions, as well as anyone with breathing problems (such as asthma, COPD, emphysema, etc), pregnant women, the elderly and the very young to stay indoors as well.

Sand Storm Hits Israel, Dangerous Air Quality

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

The first thing most veteran Israelis did when they woke up this morning (Tues. Sept. 8) was to close all the windows in their homes.

A dangerous sand storm is sweeping through the region with a high concentration of breathable particles. A number of neighboring countries have already been hit, including Syria, where visibility dropped to almost zero on Monday.

The Environmental Protection Ministry warned that anyone suffering from heart or lung conditions as well as senior citizens, children and pregnant women should be cautious about physical activity outdoors. Students should avoid physical activity outside the classroom and all sports activities should be held indoors.

According to the ministry, this pollution is particularly dangerous and in severe cases – such as asthma, for instance – could be lethal.

The haze is predicted to continue to spread across Israel from the Golan Heights to Jerusalem and down into the Negev throughout the afternoon hours.

The tiny particles from the sand storm can make their way into the lungs, and into the bloodstream where oxygen is carried to the lungs and changed into carbon dioxide. This can lead to a number of different medical conditions, several of them deadly.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/sand-storm-hits-israel-dangerous-air-quality/2015/09/08/

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