Read Richard Bangs' very interesting travelogue about the Dead Sea. I knew the lake has been slowly dying, but I had no idea of the extent of the loss: Fixing a Hole in the Holy Land
For nearly 2,000 years, the contour and coastline of the Dead Sea remained virtually unchanged from the days when the famous Dead Sea scrolls were stashed in nearby cave. But in the last 50 years, since the great diversions upstream to irrigate a growing economy, the river flow that fed the lake has decreased to 8 percent of its former pour. The Dead Sea is dropping about a yard a year, and its surface area is just a third of what it once was. The Global Nature Fund has declared the Dead Sea "Threatened Lake of the Year" for 2006.
Moving down the road, past a parade of "Danger" signs, we come to a place that looks like a detonated mine field. It is a garden of sinkholes: As the lake has receded, it has sucked the water from the underbelly of the shoreline, causing the earth to collapse. There are over 1,000 sinkholes on the west side of the Dead Sea, and more appear every day.
Planners once envisioned a string of resorts along the Dead Sea, but there is a ban against development now. Sinkholes have swallowed campgrounds, closed a military camp, and caused the evacuation of a date plantation.