The Lowest Point on Earth is Shrinking Rapidly
Initial exposure to dramatic timeline images of the Dead Sea
By Noam Bedein
The equivalent of 600 Olympic pools evaporates in the Dead Sea. Every day! Today, 98 percent of the remaining northern Dead Sea is no longer accessible to the public. We made it our main mission at the Dead Sea Revival Project to access the wonders of the Dead Sea to the public through innovative ecotourism.
It is no secret that the Dead Sea, Israel's world wonder at the lowest point on earth, is shrinking rapidly.
The water line has receded from the beaches, over 7,000 sinkholes have opened up along the length of the Dead Sea, the Ein Gedi and Mineral beaches have had to close their gates in recent years, and the lifeguard posts on the three remaining northern beaches need every year to be repositioned in accordance with the newly receding coastline. As it recedes, new layers, salt formations and spectacular geological phenomena are revealed beyond the surface of the turquoise sea, illustrating the sadly deceptive beauty of the continuous evaporation of the sea.
There are two main reasons that the Dead Sea is at its lowest level in recorded history.
Overpumping by industries and factories on the Israeli and Jordanian sides of the Dead Sea, add up to about 25%-30% of the shrinkage.
The main reason for the shriveling of the Sea is that there is not enough (sweet) water flowing into the Dead Sea. The historic water sources of the Dead Sea, namely the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee and their sources, are blocked by dams built in the neighboring countries and in Israel (such as the famous Degania Dam). The streams of the Jordan River are diverted and water is pumped from it for drinking purposes mainly on the Jordanian side and for agricultural needs on both sides of the river.
About 10% of the Jordan River currently flows into the Dead Sea.
On the Israeli side, there is no single authority that is responsible for solving the sad situation of the retreating Dead Sea. On the other hand, Jordan is too occupied with providing a valid water supply for the benefit of its water-thirsty population (being among the driest and thirstiest countries in the world) long before a government plan can be put forwards to save the salty lake.
The efforts made to save the Dead Sea in recent years are very complex and politically oriented:
On the one hand, struggle and lobbying against many government authorities and ministries along with media and public relations campaigns funded by green organizations against the Dead Sea factories. On the other hand, there is the geopolitics, water diplomacy, and cooperation between Israel and Jordan in the context of saving the Dead Sea since the peace agreement between the two countries in 1994.
Indeed, a 25-year joint solution project the ‘Red Sea-Dead Sea’ canal, estimated cost at over 12 billion dollars, has been officially off the table since November 2021.
There is currently no government action plan or official vision for saving the Dead Sea, adopted by the government of Israel or the Kingdom of Jordan.
The Dead Sea Belongs to the Living!
While the many efforts mentioned above are vital and important, they consist of long-term solutions that will take many years, if not more than a decade to implement. These ideas and plans are not enough to motivate the general public to take action, or to be emotionally involved in the loss of a national and world heritage site. For this to happen the public need to experience first-hand what is happening at the Northern Dead Sea, which is now separated from the artificial tourist attraction of the Southern Dead Sea.
Whereas almost 100% of the northern Dead Sea is currently inaccessible, the Southern Dead Sea and the hotel district in Ein Bokek are 100% artificial.
The renovation and the beautiful facelift of the boardwalk and the Dead Sea's hotel beaches dazzle the public from the fact that the southern Dead Sea (more accurately the Dead Sea pools) has been completely cut off by land from the remaining northern Dead Sea, for over 40 years.
The public should be able to take a stronger stand and be a more involved partner in the struggle to save the Dead Sea from disappearing. In order to harness the public, it is necessary to make the sea accessible in an environmentally and considerate way and to allow for an opportunity to expose the public to this wonder of nature through an inspirational and exciting experience.
The more the public is personally enthused, the more they will appreciate it, and grasp the loss for them and for the next generation and hopefully will be motivated to take action. The chain reaction will bring to the fore practical solutions alongside long-term sustainable solutions for the preservation of the Dead Sea.
A crowdfunding campaign was launched inviting the public to take an active role in establishing eco-educational marine activities in the northern Dead Sea.
In addition, a Dead Sea photo exhibition is in the works and will be exhibited at the Dead Sea Art Museum in Arad in Southern Israel overlooking the Dead Sea. The exhibit will be showcasing the dramatic time-lapse pairs shown in this article and more, to raise awareness for the alarming state of the Dead Sea.
The exhibition is set to take place towards the end of April ahead of Earth Day.
Noam Bedein, a photojournalist and public speaker is the founder and director of the Dead Sea Revival Project- An NGO founded in 2016, which aims to influence public opinion and enlist global support for the restoration of the Dead Sea’s water sources and promote a Middle Eastern alliance for water sustainability.