Friday, March 6, 2015

Selective Environmentalism: The Greenies Are Silent on the Nicaragua Canal

The government of Nicaragua has made a deal with a Chinese engineering firm to build a canal across Nicaragua, which will compete with the Panama Canal. The idea of a canal in Nicaragua is not at all new – the US had strongly considered building a canal there before the deal was done with Panama back in 1900 (and Wikipedia says Napoleon III had previously looked into the idea). From time to time, the idea has been revived.

What is new is the immense size of this planned project. The Panama Canal at its narrowest points (the locks) is currently 110 feet wide (widening is either currently happening or planned (I'm not certain which). The plan in Nicaragua, though, is for a ditch whose narrowest point is 754 feet in width.

While there is considerable doubt in some quarters as to whether the project will go far, another point of interest beyond the immensity of the undertaking, is the silence of major environmental organizations in the face of something that will unquestionably have an incredible impact on the environment.

An article in Nature is quoted here as saying the project will require …
“The excavation of hundreds of kilometres from coast to coast, traversing Lake Nicaragua, the largest drinking-water reservoir in the region, [and] will destroy around 400,000 hectares of rainforests and wetlands.” 
And yet ...
Interestingly, despite this potential massive threat to one of the most pristine environmental reservoirs in the Americas, none of the leading international environmental organizations, such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth or the Sierra Club, has issued a single statement about the Nicaragua Canal.

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