An Abandoned Ship Rusts In the Mud on Dying Lake Urmia!

An Abandoned Ship Rusts In the Mud on Dying Lake Urmia!

Lake Urmia dying in Iran reminds us of how people die and go out into eternity! Even though Lake Urmia is not a living being, it is always sad to see something die that God has created. For many years, the lake has supplied water to sustain the lives of many people. The lake has shriveled up like an old man. Can the lake be brought back to life again? Can a person facing death undergo an operation and live forever?

Signs of death are apparent where the lake once overflowed with wildlife and people. One observer of the lake commented on the dying Lake Urmia!

“Rusted boats lay abandoned in what is now essentially a giant salt flat. The tourists are long gone, as are many of the animals that once called the lake home.

Lake Urmia In Iran Is Drying Up Leaving Salt!

Lake Urmia In Iran Is Drying Up Leaving Salt!

‘It’s like seeing a scene from a different planet. I saw caterpillars and bobcats taking salt from the dead body of the lake,’ recalls Gary Lewis, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Iran.” (1)

A small amount of salt is great to enhance the flavor of food. But, salt in a wound hurts. The salt being gathered from the wounded lake brings sadness to many people. The salt is all that remains in much of the once beautiful, salty Lake Urmia. When we lose something or someone we care about, it can be like a wound. But, sometimes God wounds people so that they will realize that they need to obey Him and depend upon Him.

Lot took his family to live in the wicked city of Sodom and Gomorrah. Because of the wickedness of the city, God brought judgment on the city. As a result, Lot lost some of his family and the things that he cared about. Even though Lot and some of his family escaped the judgment of God, they were wounded by their loss of family, friends and possessions.

Sometimes God allows people and things to be taken away from us. It is often because He wants us to obey Him. When God was judging Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s wife’s love for sin led to her death. Wounds can lead to a life of obedience to God or they can lead to death! When we see the death of something or someone, we are reminded of how fleeting life is. When we suffer a loss by the death of a loved one, it should remind us to depend on God for life. Our prayer is that the dying Lake Urmia will cause the people of Iran to turn to the God of the Bible for eternal life.

Genesis 19:24-26 “Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. 26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”

If Lake Urmia continues to dry up and die, its remains may bring harm to any people around. Also, salt laying on the dried-up lakebed will increase salt storms to the surrounding areas. This happens when high winds pick up the salt and spread it through the air across the fertile land. The salt will ruin the growing ability of farm land around, and it can also cause health issues to any people still living there. With the death of the lake, much needed water will be gone.

An operation to save the lake may be too late. The lake is shrinking fast because of many years of below-average rainfall. The Iranian government and others are desperately trying to rescue Lake Urmia by plans to build dams, and engineering various irrigation systems. The government of Iran is ready to spend around five billion dollars to save the lake from death. But, it may be if the people of Iran turn to God that He will send the needed rain to revive the dying lake. God can perform operations to save life when it seems like it is hopeless.

It is certainly sad to see the death of a lake or any of God’s creations. But, it is much sadder when a spiritually dead human soul goes out into eternity to meet God. God the Holy Spirit can perform a spiritual operation on a spiritually dead soul and bring him or her eternal life. Jesus Christ died for each individual’s sins to make this life-giving operation possible. Many dead religions offer life, but their leaders are spiritually dead. Their offer of eternal life is false. God is able to offer life to those who repent and believe on Jesus as their personal Saviour because Jesus rose from the grave. Jesus is proof that God can bring life to a dead person. Jesus was not spiritually dead, but he was physically dead. Through Jesus, sinful men, women, and children can receive an operation that gives them spiritual life.

Colossians 2:8-12 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”

Maybe Lake Urmia will not be saved from its impending death. But, the precious souls of the Iranian people can be saved if they turn to the God of creation for the spiritual operation of life. The Scriptures state clearly what a spiritually dead person must do to receive the operation of life from God.

First, we must realize we cannot be good enough to earn our way to Heaven by our good actions, such as keeping the Ten Commandments. The right things that we do to please God do not satisfy the payment to receive eternal life. We cannot go to Heaven without having all of our sin removed. Mankind is filthy before God. Only God can make us clean enough for Heaven.

Isaiah 64:6 “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

Second, it was prophesied that God would provide Jesus as the only way for a spiritually dead soul to receive a life-giving operation. The payment for sin was paid in full by Jesus Christ, who is sinless.

Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Third, we must realize that eternal life was paid for in full by God. The operation for eternal life is provided as a free gift to anyone who accepts it. Receiving eternal life is like water being purchased without cost to the one receiving it. Jesus paid the cost for eternal life, and spiritually dead sinners just need to receive the purchased operation of life.

Isaiah 55:1 “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”

Fourth, for an individual to receive this spiritual operation, they must repent of their sins. Repentance results when a person is  sorry for their sins because they know that they displease God. Repentance is not the result of a person changing their own life. They will turn from their sins to obey Scriptures, by God’s power. When the Holy Spirit does an operation on a dead soul, He will then do good works through that person who has new life.

Ezekiel 14:6  “Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.”
2 Corinthians 7:10 “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”

Fifth, each individual sinner must ask God by faith, to save them from the penalty of sin. The penalty for sin is everlasting punishment in Hell. Their faith must be in the completed work of Jesus, who died on the cross for their sins

Joel 2:32 “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.”

Even if Lake Urmia dies, we encourage every Iranian, and all others, to choose eternal life instead of eternal death. Please let us know if you make a decision to choose life by accepting Jesus Christ as your Saviour.

HIBM Editorial by Avi Goldstein * Operation Life for Dying Lake Urmia! – Dr. K. Daniel Fried, Editor in Chief – copyright © 2015

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Save one dying lake, save the Middle East?


Lake Urmia: how Iran’s most famous lake is disappearing



An Abandoned Ship Rusts In the Mud on Dying Lake Urmia!

Lake Urmia In Iran Is Drying Up Leaving Salt!


Star of David Divider 1

Lake Urmia: how Iran’s most famous lake is disappearing

New research shows Iran’s most famous lake has shrunk by nearly 90% since the 1970s. Scientists urge action!

Lake Urmia Salt on Lakebed

 Lake Urmia in Iran on 8 August 2010

In the late 1990s, Lake Urmia, in north-western Iran, was twice as large as Luxembourg and the largest salt-water lake in the Middle East. Since then it has shrunk substantially, and was sliced in half in 2008, with consequences uncertain to this day, by a 15-km causeway designed to shorten the travel time between the cities of Urmia and Tabriz.

Historically, the lake attracted migratory birds including flamingos, pelicans, ducks and egrets. Its drying up, or desiccation, is undermining the local food web, especially by destroying one of the world’s largest natural habitats of the brine shrimp Artemia, a hardy species that can tolerate salinity levels of 340 grams per litre, more than eight times saltier than ocean water.

Effects on humans are perhaps even more complicated. The tourism sector has clearly lost out. While the lake once attracted visitors from near and far, some believing in its therapeutic properties, Urmia has turned into a vast salt-white barren land with beached boats serving as a striking image of what the future may hold.

Lake Urmia Changing Over Years

 Lake Urmia Photograph: Kaveh Madani

Desiccation will increase the frequency of salt storms that sweep across the exposed lakebed, diminishing the productivity of surrounding agricultural lands and encouraging farmers to move away. Poor air, land, and water quality all have serious health effects including respiratory and eye diseases .

The people of the north west – mainly Azeris and Kurds – are raising their voices. The Azeris, one of Iran’s most influential ethnic groups and about a third of the country’s population, venerate Urmia as a symbol of Azeri identity, dubbing it ‘the turquoise solitaire of Azerbaijan’. The region is also home to many Kurds, who are demanding a bigger say in the management of the lake to improve the livelihood of Kurdish communities.

President Hassan Rouhani has shown he is listening, referring to Urmia during his election campaign, and subsequently promising the equivalent of $5 billion to help revive the lake over ten years. Solutions, however, require agreement on the main causes of the problem, and this motivated a group of concerned Iranian researchers in the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom to carry out an independent, first-hand assessment beginning in 2013. Because of the unavailability of reliable and consistent ground-truth data, the team used high-resolution satellite observations over the past four decades to estimate the lake’s physiographic changes.

Lake Urmia, Iran 1972-2014

The results of this investigation, which recently appeared in the Journal of Great Lakes Research, revealed that in September 2014 the lake’s surface area was about 12% of its average size in the 1970s, a far bigger fall than previously realized.

The research undermines any notion of a crisis caused primarily by climate changes. It shows that the pattern of droughts in the region has not changed significantly, and that Lake Urmia survived more severe droughts in the past.

The lake’s surface area naturally varies to some extent between wet and dry seasons and the situation has eased somewhat with seasonal precipitation that occurred since September. But the magnitude and timeline of the shrinkage ­– frequently attributed by the Iranian water authorities to years of below-average precipitation – are unquestionably beyond the ordinary, and suggest that the lake may have reached a ‘tipping point’ leading to sudden death. If Lake Urmia is to be revived, the authorities must look urgently at the construction of dams and irrigation projects designed to boost agri-business and meet growing regional water demand.

The tragic demise of the Aral Sea in central Asia is a chilling precedent. Once one of the world’s largest lakes, the Aral Sea faded away due to diversion of water for agriculture from its tributaries, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers. The Aral Sea became a hallmark of poor agricultural water management in the Soviet era. Over the course of five decades its surface area dropped to less than 10% of its original extent in the 1960s

It is ironic that the collapse of Lake Urmia and other Iranian water bodies such as Shadegan, Gav-Khuni, Bakhtegan, Anzali, and Hamouns comes in the country where the 1971 Ramsar Convention  was signed. As a pioneering intergovernmental treaty for conservation and sustainable use of wetlands, Ramsar envisaged action by both national governments and international co-operation.

Just five years later, in 1976, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) designated Lake Urmia a biosphere reserve to encourage sustainable development grounded in community involvement and sound science.

Given the far-reaching socio-economic effects, and human health impacts that may extend beyond Iran’s borders, Lake Urmia’s collapse requires active involvement of international organisations that can provide expertise and financial resources, even if their efforts to help are complicated by sanctions blocking financial transactions. These include UNESCO, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the World Bank, World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) and World Health Organization (WHO).

Lake Urmia Drying Up

 Lake Urmia Photograph: Kaveh Madani

On the bright side, growing public awareness about water scarcity, mismanagement and waste may pave the way for re-establishing a balance between natural water supply and water demand. The three provinces that share the Lake Urmia basin – East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, and Kurdistan – and the Iranian government have joined forces to devise promising restoration ideas, including stopping dam construction, managing the existing reservoirs and regulating the use of the agricultural lands. Such changes could augment the lake’s inflow, limit additional surface water and groundwater withdrawal, and mitigate salt blowouts and sand storms.

However, this is barely enough for any realistic optimism. Demand-side management plans to reduce the basin’s water use must go in effect immediately, and proposals for water transfer – which have had harmful ecological and socio-economic side-effects in other parts of Iran – need drastic revision. There is an obvious need, too, for schemes to compensate current water-users for any losses.

While international help is important, Iranians must lead restoration efforts, for Lake Urmia and other water bodies. Iran’s push for development is taking a toll on the nation’s water resources in a mostly arid and semi-arid country as short-sighted projects transfer water to supply inefficient agriculture and growing urban areas. Without a pragmatic action plan, the country faces severe water stress.

The authors were all involved in the independent investigation of Lake Urmia. Ali Mirchi is a postdoctoral research associate at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Michigan Technological University; Kaveh Madani is a lecturer in Environmental Management at the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London; Amir AghaKouchak is an assistant professor at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Irvine” (2)


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