Scientists chide environment minister for meeting with climate skeptics

Group calls on Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman to consult with climate change experts rather than people who ‘spread false information’

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

Illustrative. Heatwave. (iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative. Heatwave. (iStock by Getty Images)

Dozens of scientists pushed back against a meeting last week between Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman and members of the so-called Rational Environmentalism Forum, a group that opposes the general scientific view that humans are responsible for climate change.

On Monday, a not-for-profit group of scientists called Little, Big Science wrote to Silman saying that while it was important to listen to different views, the Rational Environmentalism Forum represented a “negligible minority” and that most of its members were not climate scientists.

Little, Big Science, which represents around 50 scientists in different fields  and was set up to explain science to the general public, pointed out that the vast majority of the world’s scientists, many of them involved with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, were certain that climate warming was a human-driven phenomenon.

Groups like the Rational Environmentalism Forum “spread false information that requires a lot of effort and resources to eliminate,” the letter went on, urging the minister to restrict her consultations to “professionals with relevant expertise in the field in question.”

Rational Environmentalism Forum includes professors Yonatan Dubi, Hallel Gershoni and Micha Klein.

Dubi has argued that the human contribution to climate change is unproven, that the government should be prioritizing environmental issues such as pollution, that the rush to deploy solar panels will leave behind a mass of non-recyclable materials and ruin the countryside, and that fossil fuels such as gas are the best way to ensure energy security.

Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman speaks at a conference of the Kipa news website in Jerusalem, on January 8, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Sources familiar with the three-hour-long meeting told the Haaretz daily that the group presented Silman and ministry director-general Guy Samet with information that they said supported their view that Israel’s climate-related activity is unnecessary, expressed doubt over the human involvement in causing climate change, and were skeptical about its severity.

Silman’s office said in response that she had met with “a wide variety of people from the Jewish, Arab, ultra-Orthodox public, while also listening to different opinions” over the week.

Most Popular
read more: