Exploitation of Resources: A Dying Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is a salt lake bordered by Jordan and Palestine. Famously known as the lowest point on Earth, the Dead Sea is around 430 meters below the sea level, low enough to make your ears pop on your drive down to this landmark. It is one of the saltiest bodies of water, making it impossible for flora and fauna to exist in it, also making it a hugely popular therapeutic resort for those seeking to benefit from the lake’s healing waters and mud. The Dead Sea supplies for a wide variety of products for skincare, sold worldwide. However, we see that the Dead Sea is shrinking in size at an alarming rate, i.e. slightly more than a meter every year. In fact, its water level dropped more than 40 metres since the 1950s. It is now roughly 2 kilometers away from where it used to be during the times of the First World War.

   Other than the data presented to us, the newer generations of Jordanians grew up hearing about how big the Dead Sea used to be, how the desert highways we drive by used to be next to the seashore, and how they’re not anymore. This shrinkage is due to a combination of climate change and industrial exploitation. The formation of sinkholes is rising at an increasing rate,  these sinkholes are cavities in the ground beneath the Dead Sea which allows the water to disappear underground, with more than a thousand sinkholes forming in the last 15 years, and the rivers flowing into the dead sea are drying up. However, it is worth noting that, naturally, it is not possible for the Dead Sea to dry out on its own, because the water’s salinity will cause some sort of equilibrium with the rate of evaporation and the lake will not get any smaller.

Nevertheless, the Dead Sea is being exploited for its resources by industrial companies. Jordanian and Israeli factories extracting minerals from the Dead Sea are actively participating in the increasing of the rate of evaporation by lowering the lake’s salinity. Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories has come under fire for “pillaging” resources from the Dead Sea. They have been profiting from the resources by making beauty products with the Dead Sea’s water and mud, without paying any regards to the environmental damage they are implementing. Therefore, these business companies are largely contributing to the demise of the Dead Sea

Due to these events, the question of what can be done arises. Implementing the project of connecting the Dead Sea with the Red Sea through a massive pipeline has been under review for many years. While this idea seems very promising at first glance, it will only add a few centimeters to the lake’s surface area every year; this won’t do much, since the lake is losing a meter of water every year. Other than that, there needs to be strict regulation limiting the usage of the Dead Sea’s water and mud, to limit how much it is shrinking due to the constant decreasing of the water’s salinity. Looking at the bigger picture, we need to assess the damages happening to the region due to climate change and work accordingly.

The Dead Sea is a historic landmark. It is a touristic destination inviting people from all around the world to witness its beauty, to benefit from its remedial properties, and to stand where many great moments in history were made. It is held dear to everyone that lives around it, and without any affirmative action taken against who is constantly exploiting it, the Dead Sea will perish.

1 Comment

  1. afik

    I found a common mistake in your post, you said “the borders of jordan and palestine”, in fact it is ISRAEL. I hope both of them cooperate for the preservation of the Dead Sea.

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