Human-influenced climate warming has already reduced rainfall and increased evaporation in the Mideast, worsening water shortages. Up to now, climate scientists had projected that rainfall could decline another 20 percent by 2100. But the Dead Sea cores suggest that things could become much worse, much faster.
Thousands of years before Biblical times, during a period when temperatures were unusually high, the lands around the Dead Sea now occupied by Israel, Jordan and surrounding nations suffered megadroughts far worse than any recorded by humans. Warming climate now threatens to return such conditions to this already hard-pressed region.
Natural parks are good for people and the environment. However, what if they came at a cost such as taking someone’s land without permission? Would it be worth it?
Traveling to Jordan and Israel, I expected to eat great food, see great sites, and learn more about one of the most significant conflicts in the world. But I did not expect to learn about the power that individuals can have in resolving a crisis.
Rivers, deserts, and species don’t stop at borders or fences. They are not participating in the conflict in the Middle East, but they are affected by it.
The next part of our tour provided an excellent example of the challenges people working toward environmental peace-building in Israel, Jordan and Palestine face: a site that we were unable to visit.
The Dead Sea could soon enough become a dead “pool” of sea. But perhaps there’s another alternative.
Without an urban civil culture, it is impossible to promote political and economic participation, and a non-unified Jerusalem will remain.
It is not the concept of a borderless nature that should serve as a model to facilitate cross-border dialogue and cooperation. Rather, it is that nature’s systems are interconnected and their borders are open to exchange.
The Middle East is the only place on earth where the neighbors are so close and so far at the same time.