Democrats & Liberals Archives

Panama Canal To Be Widened

The Panamanian Congress has voted to widen the Panama Canal. The plan calls for widening the canal by 42 feet to make the canal a total of 150 feet wide. Currently, the Panama canal passes about 5% of global trade, and can only handle vessels carrying up to 4,000 containers. The expansion will allow ships carrying up to 10,000 containers. The expansion planned for completion in 2014, is estimated to cost $5 billion. However, the construction costs are not the only costs that should be counted.

The current form of globalization is based on petroleum. Massive ships ply the oceans transporting food, goods, raw materials, and yes - oil - from one place on the Earth to another. Central to "efficient" transport is the Panama Canal - or should we say canals. The shortcut through Panama cuts about 9,200 miles off the trip around South America. This is what makes Panama such a prize possession. About 5% of the global cargo and 14% of the US ocean-going cargo pass through Panama each year (Panama - USAID). That may not sound like much, but it equals 13,100 ships per day [correction - per year] passing through the canal, and that is expected to double by 2050 (Water Woes at the Panama Canal).

[This figure gives you an idea of how much cargo is being shipped if 13,100 ships daily [correction - per year] is only 5% of the global transport.]

So there is a lot of traffic moving through the Panama Canal, but each one of those ships takes a lot of water to make the trip - 52 MILLION gallons per ship in fact (Water Woes). That is fresh water that is being used to raise and lower each ship 85 feet in the crossing. All of that water comes from one water shed - the Panama Canal Watershed - of which the Chagres River basin is the largest supplier. The same watershed is the sole freshwater source for Panama (Panama Canal Water Resources Management). So the canal alone uses about 680 BILLION gallons of fresh water each DAY [correction - per year] (52 mil gallons * 13,100 ships). Now that is one heck of a lot of fresh water. As a point of comparison, the Portland Oregon Metropolitan area (where I live) has a population of just under 1 million people and uses about 40 billion gallons of fresh water per YEAR.

There are some obvious concerns when one starts thinking about this level of water usage. First, how could a watershed continue to produce above that level of water, and what are the environmental impacts of doing so? Secondly (and I have no answer for this one) what happens to ocean salinization levels when you are pumping in that much fresh water? Third, with fresh water becoming increasingly scarce, who controls this water and at what cost?

There are obvious and known threats to the continued functioning of the Panama Canal: global warming, deforestation, and watershed destruction. Add to this that the canal was just significantly widened, and that the plans are to build additional canals to handle the traffic, and the scope of this problem takes on massive proportions. Global warming is making the water flow unreliable. Droughts have forced closure of the Gatun power station at Gatun Reservoir. Floods have eroded drainage. Logging of the rain forest has impacted drainage and disrupted the normal flow to rivers and reservoirs (Water Woes and USAID).

Fresh water is an increasingly scarce commodity and as such has become a major prize of corporatization. All over the world, but especially in water poor area, corporations are attempting to privatize water systems. An excellent discussion of this can be found in Blue Gold: The global water crisis and the commodification of the world's water supply put out by the International Forum on Globalization (IFG).

"Just at the time governments are backing away from their regulatory responsibilities, giant transnational water, food, energy and shipping corporations are lining up to take advantage of the world's water shortage, acquiring control of water through the ownership of dams and waterways; the development of new technologies such as water desalination and purification; control over the burgeoning bottled water industry; the privatization of municipal and regional water services, including sewage and water delivery; the construction of water infrastructure; and water exportation.

'Water is the last infrastructure frontier for private investors," says Johan Bastin of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Tragically, water is also the last frontier of nature and the commons."

Institutions of globalization such as the IMF and World Bank have aggressively promoted water corporatization in the third world. Nations have been forced to sell part or all of water resources to meet debt payments, or as part of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP). The consequences have been disastrous. The effects of this have been to actually reduce the amount of fresh water available to populations, or to make access to that water prohibitively expensive. "For example, in India, some households pay a staggering 25 percent of their income on water." ... "Biwater Plc. corporation increased water rates in Subic Bay in the Philippines by 400 percent." (Blue Gold) Enron actually owns part of the Panamanian water system (Blue Gold), and the plan has called for the government to allow private water contracting (V. IMF and World Bank Push Water Privatization News & Notices for IMF & World Bank Watchers, Spring 2001). Water privatization has been met with citizen protests all over South America and Panama is no exception (6,000 Clash in Panama City, AP 1998).

While GATT, GATS, NAFTA, and IMF/World Bank forces are playing a dramatic role in Panama's water plight, it is focused in the Plan Puebla Panama (PPP). The PPP is the most direct threat of corporate water ownership (supported heavily by former President Vincente Fox). The following quote is from Plan Puebla-Panama: The Next Step in Corporate Globalization by Hansen and Wallach (Labor Notes, 4/2002): (emphases mine)

"PPP would encourage foreign investment in the region, strategically located between the Pacific and the Atlantic, by constructing a series of transportation and sweatshop corridors spanning the isthmus.

Fox wants to transplant the maquiladora, production-for-export model that has been applied with disastrous results in northern Mexico, but with a few new twists. The isthmus is one of the most bio-diverse regions on the planet, and contains some of the most important fresh water reserves in the hemisphere. Exploitation of these resources is key to the plan. "

The US is in support of PPP: "Secretary of State Colin Powell [has] told Vincente Fox that the U.S. will support the plan if Fox militarizes the Mexico-Guatemala border to prevent immigration from Central America northward."

The US has a long and rather sordid history with Panama, and that is unlikely to change anytime in the near future. From the inception of the Panama canal and the importation of African workers to build the canal, to the 1989 invasion to make sure that control of the canal was maintained, to today's economic levers of control, the US has had its hand on the reins. There is an excellent documentary The Panama Deception which is well worth the effort to find (or purchase) and watch. It discusses both the history between the US and Panama, and the 1989 invasion.

So oil, both as cargo and as the fuel of a globalized economy, mixes with the dwindling waters of Panama to the long term good of corporations and the long term ill of Panamanians and the environment. I certainly wish this was a unique story. Unfortunately, it is only an illustration of a much broader pattern.

Posted by Rowan Wolf at July 15, 2006 12:33 PM
Comments
Comment #167809

Amazing, so many of the devils of the democratic party all in one single issue. Evil corporations, global warming, oil, the World Bank…

I’m surprised that the Illuminati aren’t mentioned?

So, you have pointed out what YOU see as a major problem, what do you offer to us as a solution to this problem? Shut down the canal? Quit using oil completely? Stop sending our food and goods overseas? Start using planes instead of ships (at a much higher oil usage per load cost)?

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 15, 2006 1:24 PM
Comment #167814

Rowan, sounds like another billion needs to be thrown into the pot to engineer recycling of that fresh water on a day to day basis with the locks, limiting replenishment to the evaporation rate.

It has to be doable.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 15, 2006 1:31 PM
Comment #167815

The Panama canal will probably be obsolete by the time they finish anything. Global warming will soon make a shorter Arctic passage available most of the year, see:
http://www.climateark.org/articles/reader.asp?linkid=42853
and other links on my blog.

Posted by: ohrealy at July 15, 2006 1:32 PM
Comment #167820

David,
I like the water recycling plan. Or perhaps they could reuse the water rather than continuing to pull from the reservoir. They should be doing that now regardless of any expansion plans.

Posted by: Rowan Wolf at July 15, 2006 1:49 PM
Comment #167845

ohrealy, that’s great news, it should help lower costs of getting food to the people who need it and help reduce hunger throughout the world.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 15, 2006 3:03 PM
Comment #167847

Rowan,
Thanks for bringing up and explaining the issue. Sorry that some posters always have a knee jerk “attack the messenger for daring to raise the issue” reaction.
Widening the canal could actually be an environmental boom as it could greatly reduce shipping energy expenditures. Right now, goods needing to cross the N.America/S.America obstacle either have to go the long way round, or switch to ground or air shipping, which is MUCH more inneficient.
The water issue sounds more like a technical problem that could be solved with a little ingenuity. The inneficient system now in place is 100 years old, designed when no thought was given to the environment and the population required little.
It needs to be done!

Posted by: Observer at July 15, 2006 3:05 PM
Comment #167848

“that’s great news, it should help lower costs of getting food to the people who need it and help reduce hunger throughout the world.”

And the best side effect? No More Florida!

Posted by: Observer at July 15, 2006 3:07 PM
Comment #167862

Rowan said: “Or perhaps they could reuse the water rather than continuing to pull from the reservoir.”

That is what I had intended. Empty it into a resovoir to lower the lock levels, and pump it back in to raise them. Monitor the level in the reservoir and top off as needed to compensate for evaporation or occasional leaks until they are repaired.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 15, 2006 4:07 PM
Comment #167867

I suspect the correct figure is 13,100 ships per YEAR.

Posted by: Hutch at July 15, 2006 4:52 PM
Comment #167871

Hutch, you are correct, here’s a excerpt from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panama_Canal

“Each year the canal accommodates the passage of more than 14,000 ships, carrying more than 203 million tonnes of cargo.”

The writer of the article should really get his facts straight before posting nonsense. 13000+ ships per day, 680 Billion gallons of water per day!! LOL!! Impossible, Think about it for a second!!

Posted by: Jef at July 15, 2006 5:36 PM
Comment #167879

Hutch, and Jef, Thanks for the correction - that was a mis-reading on my part, but still even on a yearly basis that is a lot of water.

Posted by: Rowan Wolf at July 15, 2006 6:24 PM
Comment #167880

This is a good article. You hit on some real and some that are not.

Water is a peculiar resource. It does not get used up. In the case of Panama, the water that falls as rain runs into the ocean. It does that whether or not it goes through the Panama Canal. You do not need to recycle it. You need to conserve it only to the extent that there is a shortage.

The real problem is development, deforestation and possible climate change. As the country develops, it might find better uses for the water than to flush it down the canal and if a persistent drought struck, there would not be enough water to run the operation. Deforestation could also interfere with water availability.

Your article also hits on the problem of privatization of water resources. Right now, we face a tragedy of the commons. Because water is free or subsided it is wasted. In many places, we have the concept of first use, so somebody gets to a water source, builds an irrigated farm and then can use it forever. This works in a thinly populated or water rich area, but is causing us trouble now. A city may use less water than the surrounding irrigated farmland and may have higher value and less adverse ecological impact.

Old cowboys in Arizona used to say that whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over. It is an emotional issue. It seems like it SHOULD be an entitlement, but it is not. Perhaps the best case would be a lifeline amount followed by a paid amount. That means everyone would get an amount sufficient to live off, but pay more for it beyond that.

Posted by: Jack at July 15, 2006 6:26 PM
Comment #167881

As I read what I wrote, I see I did not make clear that water is also a very local issue. In some places, there is no reason to conserve water at all or not much except during unexpected droughts. Other places you need to conserve all the time.

Unfortunately, re water you usually have too much too little. Where I live we had 10 inches of water fall in one day. That is unusual for us. We had been having a bit of a drought. Now it is raining almost every day. On average, things are fine.

Posted by: Jack at July 15, 2006 6:32 PM
Comment #167882

Jef,

Next time you make a typo, we’ll forgive you.

The figure should be 2 billion gallons a day, or about 159 acre feet per ship.
Or enough fresh drinking water to supply nearly 1/3 of of the population of China for a day.
I don’t care what anyone says, that’s a lot of freshwater going out to sea.

Posted by: Rocky at July 15, 2006 6:33 PM
Comment #167886

I actually think that David is right in that a water conservation system could easily be developed to work, but there is a catch.

What I don’t understand is what is the political issue here that we should be discussing on this board?

Observer seems to think I’m being ‘knee jerk attack the messenger’ here, and I may have been initially flippant, but while the author may have intended to discuss the issue, how is what Panama does with their canal (we don’t own it or control it anymore) our concern. It seems that the author was trying to imply how it is a world issue but didn’t really make the point as well as it should be in order for us to tell panama what to do with their soverign country. It just seemed more to me that the assumption was already made that it is something we should be discussing.

It would similar to us telling France how to manage their forests and wine industry, wouldn’t it?

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 15, 2006 7:53 PM
Comment #167888

Rhinehold:

We don’t seem to have any trouble telling sovreign countries what to do, what makes Panama different?

I would think this IS a global concern if only for the fresh water going into the ocean. This is a major concern for scientists.

Posted by: womanmarine at July 15, 2006 7:58 PM
Comment #167890

Woman

This fresh water will go into the ocean no matter what. The rain water runs into the sea. This is not a case similar to melting glaciers. Think of it like this. If the water did not run into the sea, where would it go?

Rhinehold et al

Panama is an important issue for the U.S. even if we don’t own the canal anymore since we gave it to Panama.

The water issue is also important to us, but much of it is bogus. Water is the ultimate renewable. No matter how much water we use this year, there will be the same amount of water available next year. It is a matter of location and purity.

What bothers me is that people are starting to talk about water as they talk about oil. Next will come the moralizing.

Posted by: Jack at July 15, 2006 8:07 PM
Comment #167894

Jack,

“Water is the ultimate renewable. No matter how much water we use this year, there will be the same amount of water available next year. It is a matter of location and purity.”

The crux of the biscuit. Availability, Location, Purity.

As you know I live in Phoenix. Here in an “average” year, we get 12” of rain. This year at Snow Bowl just north of Flagstaff we got less than 4 feet of snow, and half of that came in March. Snow Bowl usually gets 24 feet of snow.

Phoenix is now the 5th largest city in America.

I wonder where the developers speculate we will get the water to supply all those new folks.


On a side note about purity. I recently listened to a discussion about tap water vs bottled water.
The commentators contention was that it was a scam. I disagree. I do drink bottled water and have for years.
I live on the same aquifer that Motorola and Honeywell used for years to dump their whatever, you know, back when we all assumed corporations were being responsible.
It’s not about taste, though Phoenix water has tasted like dirt for years.

Posted by: Rocky at July 15, 2006 8:36 PM
Comment #167902

Jack,

How is how the Panamanians run their canal any of our business as long as they aren’t using that canal to influence international politics or charging us too much for the use of the canal?

If they are using too much of their local water supply, it’s hurting them, not us. It’s just not our business IMO to be involved politically.

If this were a scientific peer review forum or some other forum where discussion about better ways for other countries to do things was the norm, I would have no problem discussing this issue. But how does it become political?

Are they blocking ships from using the canal? Is there a strategic reason to be involved at this point?

And seriously, how can anyone on the left say that we should be involved in THIS issue when we shouldn’t have been involved in Iraq? Seems like picking and choosing to me, Iraq had at least attacked US planes, attempted to kill a president and was supporting international terrorism. Many can say that he was ‘contained’ and we should have waited longer than the 12 years we did to do anything about him, but to say that how Panama utilizes their local resources in any way affects the US so that we should be involved politically is going to take a much better explanation that I’ve heard yet.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 15, 2006 9:11 PM
Comment #167905

“Observer seems to think I’m being ‘knee jerk attack the messenger’ here, and I may have been initially flippant, “

I never mentioned any names.


“What I don’t understand is what is the political issue here that we should be discussing on this board? “

If you finished the article, the Panama situation was a lead in to a broader issue of worldwide water privitization. As this paragraph outlined.

-Institutions of globalization such as the IMF and World Bank have aggressively promoted water corporatization in the third world. Nations have been forced to sell part or all of water resources to meet debt payments, or as part of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP). The consequences have been disastrous. The effects of this have been to actually reduce the amount of fresh water available to populations, or to make access to that water prohibitively expensive.-

Privitizing water, using water rights as forced debt payments, yes, very much political issues. Water rights have been one of the MOST contentious political issues throughout world history.
OR, we could just go back to discussing bush’s mulititude of failures? Fine by me.

Posted by: Observer at July 15, 2006 9:18 PM
Comment #167906

Rocky

Some of what I know about Phoenix I learned from you, so please don’t be surprised if some seems familiar. But I know that Phoenix is actually less humid now than is used to be because LESS water is being consumed as residential subdivisions replace irrigated agriculture. I also know that my sister in law in Phoenix paid less for her water than my father who lived on the shores of Lake Michigan. This shows the problem. We waste water because we do not allocate it properly. You would guess that water would be more expensive in the middle of a desert than on the shores of the fourth largest fresh water lake in the world, but you would be mistaken.

I am glad people want to live in Phoenix. It seems like a good place to build. You don’t need to clear land and there is lots of flat building places. I suppose they can get the water from agriculture. IF they were allowed to freely buy up the rights, you could probably water hundreds of houses if you just don’t grow a couple acres of cotton. The problem is the way water is allocated w/o proper regard for market forces.

If they can ship water all the way from France or Switzerland to you and still make a profit, it shows that the market can supply what you need. If the water market worked a little closer to home, that would be good too.

Posted by: Jack at July 15, 2006 9:19 PM
Comment #167907

Rhinehold

I am not saying we should really do anything about it or that it is our responsibility. We have the right to defend shipping. We could also be well served if the canal works well.

Posted by: Jack at July 15, 2006 9:23 PM
Comment #167908

“And seriously, how can anyone on the left say that we should be involved in THIS issue when we shouldn’t have been involved in Iraq?”

I don’t think anyone was advocating invading Panama. Been there, done that.

“Iraq had at least attacked US planes, attempted to kill a president and was supporting international terrorism. Many can say that he was ‘contained’ and we should have waited longer than the 12 years we did to do anything about him,”

I thought we were discussing water issues????
Can we at least have one subject that doesn’t degenerate into an Iraq debate.
Personally, I’m absolutely sick of even hearing the words “iraq,sadam”.
How bout a nice fresh abortion debate?

Posted by: Observer at July 15, 2006 9:23 PM
Comment #167909

Jack,

I don’t drink Evian if that is what you are implying.
There was a big fight here a few years ago when the golf courses wanted to use effluent (or grey water). It seems the farmers wanted it as well, and Palo Verde (our local nuclear plant) also wanted it for cooling.

Phoenix is now a “heat island”. This past Thursday we set a record for the warmest “low” ever on that date, at 94 degrees.

Oh, and BTW Jack, it doesn’t matter what the humidity is when the dew point reaches 60 degrees and stays there for three months out of the year. That combined with 105+ makes it miserable.

Posted by: Rocky at July 15, 2006 9:31 PM
Comment #167911

I wonder when they are going to slap meters on the air we breath. They are currently selling off the municiple water district of Manila to pay World Bank debt. You have seen the slums of Manila on aid appeals. Thats what they need,higher water bills.

Posted by: BillS at July 15, 2006 9:37 PM
Comment #167913

Rocky

They always say it is a dry heat and that is good.

I spent a couple of summer weeks in Phoenix in 2003. We then drove east. I remember stopping in Little Rock, AK and enjoying the humidity. It depends on what you have.

The water problem is clearly one of allocation. Of course the farmers & gulf courses want the grey water. We also like biosolids (formerly known as sewerage). It is good for the land.

There is really no water problem. There is a free or cheap water problem when you live in a desert. And this problem could be solved if water was a little less cheap. When you have a problem you can buy your way out of, it is not a problem, it is an expense.

BTW - I drink the local tap water and always have when I am in the U.S. But I don’t drink much water in general. Beer, coca-cola and watermelon serve most of my needs.

Posted by: Jack at July 15, 2006 9:45 PM
Comment #167914
Privitizing water, using water rights as forced debt payments, yes, very much political issues. Water rights have been one of the MOST contentious political issues throughout world history.

This was an article about the practice of water privitization? MMM, I think you’re stretching. No one has mentioned privitizing Panama’s water system and I think that Panama makes a fair amount of money from the fees to use the canal, I doubt they are in a whole heap of debt atm.

To be honest, I did read the whole article before responding and I’ve re-read it and I still am not seeing how this issue, the Panama canal, it being widened and the use of their local resources has anything to do with a political discussion. I’m also not even sure what the point of the article was, it was all over the board, mentioning oil, the world bank, global warming and other devils of the Democratic Party.

If you can tell me what the point of the article was and explain to me how this has anything to do with politics (other than local Panamanian politics) then I will admit that I was wrong and just didn’t get it and happily join in on the rounding political discussion.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 15, 2006 9:46 PM
Comment #167916

“If you can tell me what the point of the article was and explain to me how this has anything to do with politics “

I already did. The last 1/3 of the article discussed how water is the latest resource rich countries are plundering from third world debt ridden nations. I can’t explain it any clearer.
If you don’t think it’s relevant, why do you keep commenting?

Posted by: Observer at July 15, 2006 10:03 PM
Comment #167923

Observer

I think we are discussing water, but not how they are being plundered from third world nations. In fact, it is likely that third world countries would be net recipients of a water trade. Most of the available fresh water is in rich countries or former Soviet Union.

Maybe we can trade some water for that oil and see which one really is more valuable.

Posted by: Jack at July 15, 2006 10:58 PM
Comment #167927

—I would like to show how The Panama Canal topic can be taken over by one, of the “Authoritarian Personalities” of which 20 to 30 percent of the top Republican leaders maintain control of the entire Republican Party, just go back to the first post under Rown Wolf original post. See if you can spot
the attempted control, this process has been very effective with keeping Republicans in lockstep at all times. Democrats all over are falling for this
ploy an must resist being lead off subject at all coasts, or we will be the under dogs again. Sorry about getting topic somewhat but the topic is being
shanghaied in my opinion. If you think I am wrong, I would debate the issue !

Posted by: DAVID at July 15, 2006 11:12 PM
Comment #167929

——By the way you must go through most of these post again to see the pattern.

Posted by: DAVID at July 15, 2006 11:15 PM
Comment #167930

Rowan,

Unless I missed something in your article, you left out possibly the most important aspect of the problem which should be titled, “Hogs at The Trough”! It;s almost undeniable that Americans are the “hogs at the trough”! We’re real good at telling other countries how they should manage natural resources but we’ve been the worst at abusing those same resources.

Did I somehow misunderstand, or are we advocating that a third world country doesn’t have the right to exploit their resources the way we’ve done for decades and continue to do. Do I smell a double standard here? It seems that we’re willing to do anything as long as “we” can continue “our” way of life with the least inconvenience.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at July 15, 2006 11:15 PM
Comment #167933
If you think I am wrong, I would debate the issue

I think you’re wrong. My debate points?

1) I am not a republican. I am a libertarian and a one time democrat.

2) I’m not sure what I am hijacking. I see a post referencing all kinds of bogeymen and never once really settling on anything. Observer mentions water rights of 3rd world countries, is Panama a third world country in debt? And if that is the point of the article, it is cleverly hidden away in a lot of other minutia.

3) I asked several times for someone to explain the political ramifications of Panama widening their canal and using their local resources, Observer was the only one to try. To me it appears to be a scientific or engineering story to me, possibly in coming up with a way to provide a better solution to Panama on how to deal with a problem that I am not sure they see. The original author has not clarified I’m afraid.

You’re up!

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 15, 2006 11:26 PM
Comment #167934
If you don’t think it’s relevant, why do you keep commenting?

Observer, let’s say for a minute that those two paragraphs near the end of the article are the purpose of the article and what we are suppose to take away from it (and not the final paragraph that brings everything in the article together to point to a large conspiracy by the world bank, US and others?)

Ok, so the Panamanians are destroying THEIR water table, how does that affect the water tables of other countries? I’m pretty sure that the issue is very localized. I would say that the US could easily provide assistance to the Panamanians to show them a better way to manage the canal so that they could better utilize their local resources, but other than that I’m not sure what to suggest and it appears the author has no suggestion either. Other than attempting to point out the bogeymen in seemingly unrelated issues.

Are we to the point now that even environmental issues that are clearly localized and not withing the US are the perview of the US to intervene on? That’s where I’m getting confused, I would think that we should focus on issue that actually affect the US and it’s citizens.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 15, 2006 11:35 PM
Comment #167935

—Rhinehold— I did not use your name, I suggested starting with the first post, since you ask, America no longer leases the canal. and I think the WTO or
United Nations should, or the World Bank could invest, If Panama asked America to become a partner that’s another question.

Posted by: DAVID at July 15, 2006 11:37 PM
Comment #167936

—Rhinehold—my second question would be why start
Devils of the Democratic Party-Illuminati-evil Corp.
This is a hostile, an combative way to enter
any type of debate. Have I mischaracterized your statements.

Posted by: DAVID at July 15, 2006 11:53 PM
Comment #167949

Rowan,
Excellent article - very informative. I just seen “An Inconvenient Truth” - also very informative. That fresh water is probably flowing to the sea anyway but might have other uses. Corporations will do anything to gain control of resources / $$$.

Posted by: Ray Guest at July 16, 2006 12:51 AM
Comment #167957

—Rowan I know you spent a great deal of time
With the research with this good informative
project. Keep you head up an keep on truckin. When you believe in something, no matter what it is, an sometimes you must protect those beliefs, an always
defend your rights to pursue those rights!
good job, p.s. We all make a mistake once in a while

Posted by: DAVID at July 16, 2006 1:56 AM
Comment #167963

I hope to avoid calumny, but I do not think a single one of you who posted/responded to this concerned against the Panamanians have anything resembling an idea of what the Panama Canal is or how is works.

This is a non-issue, re the posting’s environmental concerns — please challenge me if you think I am wrong, but maybe do a little research first (e.g., maybe read some of Jack’s responses) to understand the issues better.

A suggestion is that if you don’t understand a subject (c’mon, be honest with yourself):
- maybe don’t post/respond to it
- maybe try to dampen your internal reaction to want to judge the lives/decision/morality of others who presumably know what they are talking about.

Maybe you are not as smart or as well informed as you think, and maybe not qualified to be others’ judge when you don’t know the issues.

Posted by: Brian at July 16, 2006 3:22 AM
Comment #167964

—Had you brought your facts, an provided a civil
attitude, with some respect towards the managers of this blog. you may have provided a worthy discussion.
Since you can’t be respectful. you wont receive any, not from me, an hopefully not from any one else!

Posted by: DAVID at July 16, 2006 3:45 AM
Comment #167966

—Brian— I have a trick question for you
Why do you suppose a person would pretend to
be several different people on a blog. site ?

Posted by: DAVID at July 16, 2006 4:05 AM
Comment #167969

‘Tricky-DAVID’

That is my point. This issue is not a worthy discussion, since there are no issues re what Rowan Wolf posted.

To have worthy discussions, I think we shouldn’t have FUD, subterfuge, … or ‘tricks’.

Re your 2nd ‘tricky’ question re why one one pretend to be two people: HUH???

I don’t know. I don’t do this, and never thought of it. [AND would this even matter? AND what has this got to do with the posting?]

Since this came 100% out of your mind (I never have)(*), maybe this is something you have done/considered, yes?

…so, since you publicly raised this point and maybe know a little about it, I am guessing you are willing to fully share your thoughts wrt why one would do this, yes?

(*) ALSO MAYBE REFER TO MY ORIGINAL RESPONSE RE PEOPLE SPEAKING DESPITE IGNORANCE OF AN ISSUE, in case this was inferred in any way at me.

Posted by: Brian at July 16, 2006 4:34 AM
Comment #167970

Brian, you are a nice person an probably no one else
will see us talk. I am not going to tell any any
one. If you are polite you can talk to me any time

Posted by: DAVID at July 16, 2006 4:45 AM
Comment #167971

Do you remember 2 weeks ago when I asked the trick
question but I guess he got scared an disappeared.
and I talked to that other person but he ran away

Posted by: DAVID at July 16, 2006 4:54 AM
Comment #167972

Brian- i can’t see any where any one said something bad about you or jack.

Posted by: DAVID at July 16, 2006 5:06 AM
Comment #167977

Didn’t Reagan rail against giving the Panama Canal to the Panamanians? How dare they develope their own country.

Posted by: gergle at July 16, 2006 7:14 AM
Comment #167981

“A suggestion is that if you don’t understand a subject (c’mon, be honest with yourself):
- maybe don’t post/respond to it
- maybe try to dampen your internal reaction to want to judge the lives/decision/morality of others who presumably know what they are talking about.”

Brian,

I’m not real sure who you’re directing this to, but it seems rather presumptuous to suggest that someone can’t formulate an opinion and a response based on the content of any article or post. I knew so little about the Panama canal that I read every link that Rowan included in his article and then did a little more reading about the canal zone on my own.

Then I reread Rowan’s article and formed an opinion. Certainly, I have no doubt that there are others more knowledgable of the matter. If not the world’s in deep “doo-doo”.

And I found Rowan’s article to be thought provoking. It caused me to read and think.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at July 16, 2006 9:03 AM
Comment #167997
Phoenix is now a heat island. This past Thursday we set a record for the warmest low ever on that date, at 94 degrees.

I don’t believe that for a minute. Sounds like something that nutcake Al Gore would make up. ;)

Posted by: Woody Mena at July 16, 2006 10:16 AM
Comment #168021

Some commenters have asked why this is a US political issue.

First, because the US has long term involvement (including military and CIA) in Panama and the canal. The fact that it was “returned” to Panama does not mean that US interest or involvement evaporated.

Second, the US is one of the primary “benefactors” of the canal. Japan and China are also heavy users.

The issue has also come up that Panama should get to decide what to do with its resources. While true, arguing that Panama (or most other Latin American nations are operating independent of US, IMF, World Bank, and other “interests” would be naive. Arguing that a decision to widen the canal would be in the interests of “the people” would also be a stretch. The watershed is being diverted for the canal. The privatization of the system is not good for “the people.” It is good for the corporations.

The argument that the water would end up in the ocean anyway is to some extent an over generalization. Look at virtually any watershed or river system and one will see the issues. Water is contained redirected, used in various ways. The Colorado in the US and Mexico is a prime example. It used to be a river that flowed to the sea. It is now mostly a river bed by the time it gets to Mexico.

With Panama, the water is being taken from other uses (drinking water, irrigation, fishing, natural watershed) and diverted for the canal. The more you use for the canal, the less there is for other purposes (human and natural). While some of it would (and does) end up in the oceans, it would not end up there at the rate being extracted for canal purposes.

To go back briefly to Panama’s control of its resources… Do the people of Panama benefit from the canal, and would they benefit from a large expansion of it? Some benefit and most do not. The big benefactors are not Panama.

I really encourage folks to see “The Panama Deception” (linked in the article) if you get the chance.

Posted by: Rowan at July 16, 2006 12:20 PM
Comment #168025

Kansas Dem,
You are correct, that I did not include that the US is the major “hog at the trough.” Kind of an oversight on my part as I take that as basic knowledge. From some of the comments, I guess it is not. Thanks for pointing it out.

I also appreciate that you went out and investigated the issue independently. US involvement in Central and South America is almost a hidden part of our past and present history. While we haven’t often used massive troop deployment, our involvement has been significant and largely destructive. I know as I have looked (and continued to look at US involvement in Latin America I have been stunned by how pervasive it is.

Posted by: Rowan at July 16, 2006 12:26 PM
Comment #168280

David and KansesDem,

Hi. While I won’t address everything in the post and responses, I thought the post’s main points were:

There are some obvious concerns when one starts thinking about this level of water usage. First, how could a watershed continue to produce above that level of water, and what are the environmental impacts of doing so? Secondly (and I have no answer for this one) what happens to ocean salinization levels when you are pumping in that much fresh water? Third, with fresh water becoming increasingly scarce, who controls this water and at what cost?

As you may know, the copious rainwater that falls in Panama is the ‘fuel’ of the Canal, raising and lowering ships over the hills. All the rainwater eventually goes into the oceans, anyhow. I do not think this is an issue wrt draining a watershed (I was amazed how many streams/rivers fall with such flowrates so close to each other, and that which does not go through the Canal flows down next to the Canal – i.e., it’s the ‘same’ to the watershed/ocean/etc.), or that this water goes into the oceans (it has been going there anyhow since the dawn of history).

BTW, there *is* a slight change wrt the split of freshwater between the Atlantic and Pacific, but this I suspect is a immaterial change and was also not raised in any post/response that I saw.

Re “who controls this and at what cost”: the answer is Panama. Is this wrong??

Ever since we walked away after a wonderful original investment (and re-investment in the Canal post ’89 to bring it again to standards after it had dilapidated at the hands of Noriega/Panama), we have given Panama the key to their economy (yes, the Free Trade Zone helps, but this is a consequence of the Canal).

Panama wants to widen this for reasons including:
- more income / jobs for them, w/ ~zero downside to environment (yes, there is always some (I am a Greenie to the core myself), but I am unaware of anything material)
- it is great for the world (saves money) and environment wrt saving time/money/fuel for shipping things around a large continent
- they DON’T WANT THE COSTA RICANS (or others) to create a rival canal that does address the world’s needs in a way the Panama Canal currently does not. This would be bad for Panama, and (I can’t imagine who would disagree) easier on the environment than an additional, brand new canal in another competing country – widening Panama’s canal is also far cheaper ($$, lives, environment, et.) than creating a new canal from new cloth.

BTW, while the Canal did create new lakes (esp the new large one around the jewel of Baja Colorado), these lakes further increase the Panamanian ground water, making Panama even more lush (like they need that!). That is, the Canal does not DRAIN the groundwater watershed, it actually definitely increases it.


David, sorry, I don’t remember your prev. trick question, or anyone w/ multiple names, as you mentioned. I don’t read all postings … probably spend too much time on these already ;-)

And no, I did not mean to infer anyone was insulting Jack – I only meant to state he seemed to be the only one I noticed who I thought understood how the Canal actually works.

Peace & Best wishes.

Posted by: Brian at July 17, 2006 4:39 PM
Comment #168294

BTW, widening/lengthening the canal locks will be a shame in one way, if they upgrade/destroy some of the wonderful canal doors (HUGELY massive, and so wonderfully balanced), original concrete walls that are still in great shape after all these years, and so much else…

In fact, the *original* GE electrical motors that open/shut the canal doors (and electrical wiring, lighting, etc.) are still being used after a ~century later in the muggy, humid, tropical enviroment.

In nearly every way, the Canal is a testament to the amazing-quality designs, components, and workmanship of the (American) creators of the Canal (and maybe overall Quality Standards of America at that time … really impressive).

Posted by: Brian at July 17, 2006 5:53 PM
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