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Israel’s Oil Spill and Environmental Responsibility

The major oil leak recently discovered off the coast of Israel joins a long list of environmental disasters that occur around the world on a daily basis due to people’s disregard and negligence. This current incident takes place at the end of an unconventional year on planet Earth, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. On the one hand, the seclusion in homes, reduction in traffic and closure of industrial plants reduced emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere by tens of percentage points – leading to one of the “cleanest” years we have ever known. On the other hand, the pandemic led to a major deterioration in public health, economic wellbeing, and overall living conditions around the world. All of these factors may have a long-lasting impact on our planet. These changes force us to pause and ask ourselves difficult questions about the delicate fabric of life on Earth, and how humanity affects this delicate fabric. Many international bodies have already realized that significant environmental change is needed. The International Monetary Fund has announced, following fears of significant economic deterioration in the Middle East and North Africa, an environmental recovery plan to reduce air pollution in the region. The EU has decided to invest 750 billion euros in an emergency recovery program, focusing on land restoration, biodiversity restoration, and emission reduction. Last September, the UN convened a world summit on biodiversity for the first time. All of these actions, even if merely symbolic, finally proved that sustainability and care for our planet shouldn’t belong only to so-called “tree huggers” but to all people around the world. Our children must be educated on the principles of environmental conservation so that they can continue inhabiting this planet for many more generations, just like their parents did. For that to happen, we need to start speaking to them in a new language. We need to teach them about the economic and social impacts of the contemporary lifestyle: about productivity and consumerism, about technology, about the world of work, about proper urban planning, and about ecology. The schools of the future will develop in students the skills of observing and analyzing the environmental systems that surround them. They will enable them to initiate and plan targeted interventions to improve the environment. The schools of the future will also emphasize the emotional and social skills needed to perform such tasks, and will develop among their students stronger resilience and self-confidence that will help them cope with our ever-changing world. The recent oil spill is an important reminder for all of us on environmental and social responsibility. Seeing the Israeli public mobilize en masse to voluntarily clean our beaches is a stark reminder of the positive impact we can have if we channel our collective energy into positive action. Sustainability is a burning issue; not something we can put off until a later time. It must become an integral part of our lifestyle, and we must teach it to our children so that they are equipped to deal with it in their lifetime. –Naama Grossman (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)