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Is the Panama Canal Sustainable?

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Introduction

Is the Panama Canal Sustainable? Introduction The Panama Canal was completed in 1914 by the United States. The 51 mile long route cuts through Panama at the narrowest point between North and South America to connect the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. Panama is in Central America between Columbia and Costa Rica. The Panama Canal The canal was built to and save ships from Europe and Africa going the entire way around the bottom tip of South America (the red route on the map), to reach western Asia. The canal cuts through Panama and allows most ships to pass through it so save on cost and time (the green route on the map). By building this canal, shipping has been given an enormous advantage, as ships no longer have to sail around the tip of South America to reach either ocean and sailing time is drastically reduced. Investigating the natural environment The climate in Panama is hot and humid, with a prolonged rainy season (May to January) and a short dry season (January to May). The region's normal daily temperature is 26 degrees Celsius and varies little throughout the year, perhaps 2-3 degrees. ...read more.

Middle

They make their 'houses' out of anything they can find, corrugated iron, tyres and the like. These shantytowns accommodate only the poorest of the population as the richer citizens can afford the higher house prices in the city. This rapid urbanisation and the development of the shantytowns makes Panama City much more polluted. The shantytowns sprawl out from the City centre and start to intrude on the rainforests, then posing an ecological threat and threatening the sustainability of the Panama Canal. Urbanisation level This graph shows the percentage of urbanisation over the past 15 years and the predicted levels of the next 20 years. According to this graph urbanization is set to increase steadily over the next 25 years. The Panamanian government are moving people into the rainforest to give them a chance to rebuild lives and to escape the mass urbanisation and unhygienic conditions of the shantytowns. This relieves the congestion in the city and gives people new opportunities. Investigating the Economic Environment The Panama Canal is generating a lot of money for the people of Panama; it is not only a strong business and a power source, but a tourist attraction too. ...read more.

Conclusion

Solutions The water in the lakes has been going down because of deforestation. The government have made a new "organic law" that allows the government to have the final say for any projects in the watershed zone. Three million dollars is being set aside to combat any environmental plans and satellite imaging is being set up so the government can view the area on a much larger scale and can see the real extent of the damage. This should enable the government to act quickly if they can see a potential threat. The Government must also regulate urbanisation as a spread of Panama City's unplanned, chaotic urbanization into the watershed would spell disaster for the canal, electricity supplies, and clean drinking water. However, the government are not perhaps taking the issue as seriously as they should be. In 1995, the government gave permission for a four-lane road to be built in the lower catchment of the watershed, ploughing straight through the national park. The Panama Canal can be sustainable if the correct precautions are taken to ensure that urbanisation and deforestation do not increase any more, otherwise, they will spiral out of control and the panama canal will have to close, ending many, many businesses in the local area and around the world. Catherine Sweetman 1 ...read more.

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