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.
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.
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.
The Dead Sea has been receding at an average rate of 1 meter per year. How can this important historic, cultural and environmental landmark be rehabilitated in one of the world’s driest regions while improving water access for Israel, Palestine and Jordan?
Students from Columbia University and Tel Aviv University are traveling through Jordan and Israel to learn about environmental challenges facing the two countries. They’ll be posting here about their experiences. You can also follow them on social media at #CUJordanIsrael2016.
“I was on the ground collecting data in Jordan, and worked with data collection teams in Syria and Palestine. Within Jordan this involved traveling across the country to speak with Syrian youth refugees, as well as Jordanian and Palestinian youth. I was deeply struck by how candid the respondents were.”