Environmental Diplomacy Aims For A New Low
The not-so-pale blue dot at the bottom of this satellite image lies on an active geological fault , The Dead Sea Rift, which splits Sinai from Africa. Until 3 million years ago this Great Rift extension off the Red Sea was often filed with water beyond the Gulf of Aqaba ,and now plans are afoot for a canal to nowhere.
Why ? Because the Dead Sea is fast evaporating --all parties to the Arab-Israeli- Palestinian dispute are sucking the Jordan River dry below the sea Of Galilee. This has dropped the Dead Sea lower than ever, to 1386 feet below sea level, increasing the hydro-power potential of partially refilling it. What better way to cool the tempers of all parties to water disputes in the heartland of hydraulic despotism than desalinization plants powered by by a thousand foot salt waterfall in the desert, run through penstocks and turbines to generate gigawatts of cheap and CO2-free electricity?
Yesterday, Jordan's Ministry of Water and Irrigation formally invited 11 companies to tender for a feasibility study managed by the World Bank ,with France, the Netherlands, Japan and the US providing an initial $9 million
Proposals for a canal along the ancient dry river are scarcely new . The first man with a plan was Admiral William Allen , who suggested one in 1855 as an alternative to the Suez Canal Engineering spoilsports scuttled he notion by pointing out the Royal Navy could steam around Africa in the time it would take to queue for the 80-lock roller coaster required to get from Red Sea to Dead Sea and back up to the Mediterranean.
Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority all endorse the Dead-Red study -- a 25 year big dig might even allow enough time for peace to break out.