Climate change and the Negev

February 10, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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Climate change and the encroaching desert will be the topic for a public lecture hosted by the Jewish National Fund NSW next week.

Water in the Negev

The lecture, entitled “Growing our Future – the Challenge and Promise of the Desert” will be given by Professor Pedro Berliner of Ben Gurion University who is visiting Australia  with the university’s president Professor Rivka Carmi – the only woman president of a university in Israel and currently the Chairperson of the Joint Committee of University Presidents in Israel . BGU Vice President, Professor Amos Drory is accompanying her.


Professor Rivka Carmi

Ben-Gurion’s famous dictum that “In the Negev will the people of Israel be tested” has never been more appropriate and relevant than now and the great challenge that faces the present generation is how to ensure that the development of the Negev is sustainable both in its physical and human dimensions. The scarcity of water, food and energy in arid regions in general and of the Negev in particular are the focus of the research efforts of the faculty of the Blaustein Institute for Desert Research (BIDR). The problems facing the development of the Negev are however not unique, but are shared by other countries in arid or semi-arid regions including Australia and therefore Professor Berliner’s lecture will be of great interest to all who are concerned about our future.

Professor Pedro Berliner

The motto of BIDR is to “turn curses into blessings”. High solar radiation, high temperatures and brackish water are usually perceived as negative features typical of deserts, but the researchers at BIDR have developed techniques that make use of these resources in order to produce energy, food and fodder thus promoting the sustainable settlement of the Negev. The latest developments in the various areas related to the research activities and their implications for the development of the Negev will be presented in the lecture.

Alex Abulafia, JNF NSW President said:  “The JNF and BGU have a long history of working together to address the challenges of the desert and have undertaken many joint projects in the past including the Pratt Foundation-funded project to desalinate brackish water in the desert. Part of the visiting delegation’s brief during the current visit is to also promote a new joint project with JNF that involves water harvesting based on techniques used in ancient civilisations thus providing for plant or tree propagation in areas with random or small amounts of rain.”

To attend this lecture, contact the JNF NSW office on 9386 9559.  It promises to be a most informative talk on a subject that has relevance for all of us who face the challenge of global warming and increasing desertification.

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