When the Dead Sea Disappeared.

 

The surface of the Dead Sea is nearly 1,300 feet (400 meters) below sea level. Its bottom drops to nearly 2,300 feet (710 meters).

There are no fish or any kind of swimming, squirming creatures living in or near the water. There are, however, several types of bacteria and one type of algae that have adapted to harsh life in the waters.

While this may not seem like an important place of interest or concern, it is yet another “canary in the mine” for humans to understand.

A recent report (summary link): The Blue Peace – Rethinking Middle East Water enables us to understand how riparian water (water shared by multiple jurisdictions) might be the best option to rethink discord in the Middle East.

The water crisis in the Middle East can be transformed into an opportunity for a new form of peace – the blue peace where any two countries with access to adequate, clean and sustainable water resources do not feel motivated to engage in a military conflict.

This region has a history of challenge. Today, this region is further challenged by freshwater issues that will only worsen with the increasing “threats from climate change and drought.” The water systems threatened are major to the entire region.

River Jordan and Barada, Mountain Aquifer, Dead Sea, the Euphrates, Tigris, Litani, Orontes, El Kabir Rivers and Lake Kinneret (Tiberias). How important are these systems? They represent water security in seven countries in the Middle East: Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

I wrote about riparian rights in earlier blogs: The Middle East: Looking Through its Many Cracks and Fissures; and Everyone Has a Right to Water – UNTIL…..The Blue Peace Report proposes many important recommendations – from the creation of a Cooperation Council for Water Resources to regional oversight of climate change modeling to improved water monitoring and wastewater management.

The water level in the Dead Sea dropped from 390 metres below sea level in the 1960s down to 420 metres below sea level at present and will be 450 metres below sea level by 2040. The water surface area has shrunk by a third, from 950 square kilometres to 637 square kilometres. If the surface water level in the Dead Sea continues to erode, it will be reduced to a lake in 50 years, and will eventually disappear altogether.

Both the Regional and Global Communities can sit back and let regional conflicts continue to erode the potential to collaborate on yet another important environmental extinction, OR, all parties involved can get serious about the sustainability of life in the Middle East.

The question is: will the Dead Sea need to disappear before this process can move forward with the resolve to put sectarian differences aside?

 

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