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Pace of global warming ‘quicker than we thought’ says only Israeli on UN panel – The Times of Israel

The sole Israeli to serve on the team that produced the worrying new United Nations report on global warming earlier this week told The Times of Israel that “our fears are coming true more quickly than we thought.”

Prof. Daniel Rosenfeld of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Earth Sciences, who was a lead author on the report’s chapter about changes in the water cycle, said that while there are no great surprises in the nearly 4,000 pages of the report’s text, “the most important thing is that we can delare without doubt that humanity is responsible for the warming of 1.09 degrees Celsius (1.9 degrees Fahrenheit) since the industrial revolution.”

The report — dealing with the physical science aspects of climate warming — included dire warnings about the state of the planet.

Earth’s average surface temperature is projected to hit 1.5 or 1.6 degrees Celsius (approximately 35 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels around 2030 in all five of the greenhouse gas emissions scenarios  — ranging from highly optimistic to reckless — considered by the report. That’s a full decade earlier than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted just three years ago.

Rather than setting out any views or recommendations, IPCC reports of this kind present the science in an impartial fashion to help governments make policy.

Prof. Daniel Rosenfeld of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (Courtesy: Daniel Rosenfeld)

Stressing that all views that he expressed were as a private individual, Rosenfeld said, “The amount of global warming is proportional to the amount of carbon dioxide that we emit into the atmosphere, so the solution is reducing it – up to now the pace has been growing. We need to ensure that this is reversed.”

Commenting on the Israeli government’s policy to have 30 percent of energy produced by renewable sources — primarily solar — by 2030, with the remaining 70% coming from natural gas, Rosenfeld said, “Natural gas must be just for the rare times when solar is not enough. We must invest in infrastructure to develop enough solar. Today, if somebody wants to erect solar panels, there are problems selling to the grid.”

Prof. Yoav Yair, Dean of the School of Sustainability at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, in central Israel, said, “You won’t find anything new in the report — we know that the region from Portugal to Jordan is a climate change hotspot, which is heating far faster than rest of world. We are feeling it already. And we’ll feel it more strongly in the next two to three decades.

“That Israel has done almost nothing is what should annoy people. The previous government did nothing to lower the global warming gases that Israel emits.”

Prof. Yoav Yair. (Courtesy: Yoav Yair)

Those who say that Israel is too tiny to impact global warming are wrong, he said, as there were many small countries in the world, and they all add up.

“New Hampshire can also say we are only 8 million, what’s the point. But here we are, where we are.”

Yair said it was essential for the public to understand that natural gas is also a fossil fuel. “The lie that everyone tells is that it’s better than coal. But when you burn natural gas, carbon dioxide also goes into the atmosphere, and methane itself (the main component in natural gas) is a very powerful [warming] gas if it leaks from the pipes.

“But the gas companies don’t provide that information. The government should carefully monitor and evaluate the performance and integrity of the massive natural gas infrastructure, which is known to induce leaks, based on experience in other countries.”

Methane is generated by the gas industry, landfills and livestock, and accounts for some 30% of warming since the pre-industrial era, according to the UN, Reuters reported.

It quoted IPCC report reviewer Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development in Washington, DC, as saying, “Cutting methane is the single biggest and fastest strategy for slowing down warming.”

Yair said that with the post-industrial revolution rise in temperature of 1.09 degrees Celsius, it was unlikely the world would reach its preferred target of keeping rises to 1.5 degrees — just four-tenths of a degree more — but added: “Woe betide us if we get to rises of 2.5 or more.”

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