Some hikers have witnessed dangerous flash floods that can occur in minutes–and lived to tell the tale. I’ve never seen one. The River Zin in the Negev desert in Israel just offered mother nature’s dramatic example of a river roaring back to life. Of course, it’s particularly remarkable in a desert. The drop off into a canyon shows the speed and power of water gushing into narrow spaces. (photo courtesy: the Daily Mail, UK.) Here’s a video link. I’ve been privileged to visit and camp in nearly a dozen deserts, experiencing views of desert roses, lush oases with thriving date palms (yum) and sometimes pictographs, but I’ve yet to see a rushing river!
The sound of rushing water would be quite a contrast to my favorite aspects of being in the desert: the incredible quiet, except for the slight whispery sound of sand, and the sense of vastness with endless enchanting skies.
Rising desertification due to drought is a profoundly serious, and often under-reported impact of Global Warming. Lack of water and dramatically shrinking arable land are international security issues, which are already being reflected in human (and animal) migrations. Indeed, besides the civil war which has displaced millions–including many educated members of the middle-class–the fact that global warming has dramatically reduced arable land is also seen as a contributing factor in economic migration from Syria.
In the meantime, Israel itself knows the power of water, what it can do to “make the desert bloom” –including installing fountains and pools in settlement communities– and where they get the water from. The latter is problematic since the richest aquifers are across the heretofore presumed border. A gutsy new film produced by John McColgan, the Irish co-founder of the multi-billion dollar Riverdance sensation, features a 48-minute education and an interview with the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson who states categorically that there is no discrimination against Palestinians for water. In addition to the war-induced refugees around the world, there will be increasing numbers of “water refugees” who can no longer farm their land. This parched earth trend is occurring at increasing rates throughout the Africa, Asia and the Middle East.