Daily Israel Report

Highest Votes Sought for Lowest Point on Earth

Israel asks the Diaspora to help turn the Dead Sea – the lowest point on Earth – to the highest in the world’s seven natural wonders contest.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 12/1/2009, 10:26 AM / Last Update: 12/1/2009, 10:42 AM

Israel is asking friends and environmentalists in the Diaspora to help turn the Dead Sea, 1,300 feet below sea level and the lowest point on Earth, to the highest place in the ongoing contest to name the world’s seven natural wonders. Click here to vote.   

Knesset Member Ayoub Kara (Likud), who also is Deputy Minister for Development of the Galilee and Negev, is scheduled to tour the Dead Sea area Tuesday morning, accompanied by representatives of the Megilot Regional Council. He is promoting the Dead Sea as one of the 28 finalists in the contest for the New Seven Wonders of Nature, sponsored by the New Seven Wonders Fund.

Several of the other contestants include the Amazon River, the Grand Canyon, Cape Town's Table Mountain and Mount Vesuvius.

The Dead Sea is in danger of disappearing, and making it one of the official seven natural wonders of the world will help efforts to save it, according to environmentalists. Current projections indicate that the Dead Sea, which is more accurately described in Hebrew as the Salt Sea, indicate will be only a small pond in 40 years.

“Saving the Dead Sea is a regional issue, and if you take the heritage, environmental and historical importance, or even the geographical importance, it is an international issue," according to a water expert quoted by the London Telegraph. Industrial and agricultural demands, water-sharing with Jordan, and several years of drought, have contributed to the declining level of the sea.

The Dead Sea used to receive water from the north during years of abundant rainfall, but the last time the dams at the Kinneret, (Sea of Galilee) were opened, allowing more water to flow to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, was in 1992. A proposal for a $2 billion pipeline from the Red Sea is in the works but worries environmentalists, who fear the differences in water quality will actually cause destruction.

The Tourism Ministry is promoting the Dead Sea for its beauty, Biblical history, the Dead Sea Scrolls from the Qumran Caves, warm weather in the winter and the therapeutic benefits of Dead Sea mud.

While the Dead Sea is declining, fears are growing that global warming will cause floods around the world, including Israel’s Mediterranean Coast. The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) estimates that sea levels may rise by more than three feet by the end of the century.