The Jordan River: This is where Joshua parted the waters and crossed over to Jericho. This is where John baptized Jesus. The site is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims, but all have done little to save it.
Yesterday on Earth Day an Israeli mayor and a Jordanian mayor met in their kayaks mid river (this isn’t the begining of a riddle). They dropped bottles with messages that read: “Rehabilitate the Jordan River now!” and “Bring back the water to the River Jordan!” (of course I don’t have to point out the irony of dropping bottles in a polluted river but that’s not the point)
Over the last few days several people have emailed me about Richard Bangs’ expedition down the Jordan over at Yahoo. In a very interesting journal entry Richard gives a pretty accurate first hand account on what’s going on down there.
The Jordan here is not pure Ã¢?? as we have seen, it is mixed with sewage from upriver Ã¢?? yet these pilgrims have no hesitation in making a ceremonial dunking, a rebaptism. When I ask one pilgrim she responds, “The river is unclean because of our sins.” Even in secular interpretations, she is right.
The main problem seems to revolve around two things: the flow of sewage water, from both Israel and Jordan, into the river and water diversions (in the form of dams and other such projects)
Just south of it, the Dead Sea is dying (another cruel irony I suppose). It’s main source of fresh water is the Jordan (98%) although what little of that has been diverted as well. So 1 meter dissapears annually, and over the past 50 years alone one third of the surface area has dissapeared.
It has been in the news recently as it was declared by the Global Nature Fund as Threatened Lake of the Year 2006. Meanwhile Israelis and Jordanians are trying to push their government to put the Jordan River on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
A few months ago I blogged about a Red-Dead Project which is a plan to extend a pipeline that is 200km long which connects the Red Sea to the Dead Sea and therefore pours water from the former into the latter. The estimated cost is said to be $3 billion.
Since both the Dead Sea and the Jordan are in trouble, diverting water from the latter in to the former would not yield the best results. Experts claim that the Dead Sea will need 2 billion cubic meters of water from the Red Sea every year as 66 billion cubic meters has already been evaporated.
It’s really tragic what has happened to these two sites. When you think of an ocean or river disappearing it’s really hard to comprehend it when in reality only a generation or two from now will be around to see both the Jordan and the Dead Sea vanish if nothing is done today. I’m not an expert so I don’t know what an every day citizen can do to help (other than blogging about it in hopes of creating a miniscule amount of awareness). What I do know is that the water will eventually disappear and the world will remember that our generation did nothing. And I also know that pressure needs to be put on governments from both sides to actually do something. Stopping sewage water from flowing into the Jordan for one.