A Green Car Doesn't Go Far

Stop the warming world, because Israel's government lacks the money for a trip to Bali, where the United Nations conference on global warming is taking place. Had the government taken a tithe of its expenses for the Annapolis conference, it would have been possible to go to Indonesia and attend the most important conference of the last several years, or for many years to come. Instead, Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni, along with their extensive entourages, are traveling to see George Bush, who is already in meltdown, just like the polar ice.

But on second thought, perhaps staying home makes a modest contribution, as befits a modest ministry such as Israel's Environmental Protection Ministry. Air travel is known to be a major polluter. Environment Minister Gideon Ezra and his staff are not flying; therefore, they are not polluting. Cold comfort.

Perhaps President Shimon Peres will telephone Ezra and explain the importance of attending; perhaps he will even donate a tiny slice of the president's travel budget. After all, Peres has recently gone green; he is also a man of the world, and would not want Israel to be seen as the only country on earth refusing to join the pack: Some 200 countries will be there, and only official Israel will be absent. How humiliating! After all, it was just two weeks ago that the government declared its support for developing the gas-saving car of the future. But it seems a green car does not travel far - certainly not as far as Bali.

Israel is admittedly a small country, but as a polluter, it is actually quite big: For instance, it is a leading producer of methyl bromide, which is considered a particularly poisonous member of the family of warming gases. But Israelis are uncomfortable talking in global terms, such as the environment; they prefer talking in local terms, such as security. That is something they understand.

Therefore, here is the security connection: This year's Nobel Peace Prize was given to people who have never made peace in their lives; Al Gore and the 2,500 scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won it even though they deal solely with man's impact on his world. And the reason is clear: If the weather continues to go crazy, desertification will intensify, the glaciers will melt, floods and rising sea levels will erode and drown the land, and the world will revert to primordial chaos. Desperate wars will break out over the scarce remaining land and water. And one area where chaos is likely to erupt is our own. Thus Ezra's mission to Indonesia could be defined as a security mission, perfectly fitting for a former senior security official such as himself.