Albert Einstein once wrote the following about insanity. He said; “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
In Panama we are doing exactly the same thing: destroying our tropical rain forests to calm our thirst for money—way out of control. As the destruction of our forests continues, Mother Natures is bringing in less and less rain. As a result, the Provinces of Los Santos, Herrera and Coclé are morphing into early desert zones. Most of the streams and rivers have dried up, and we are only starting our Dry Season. Pundits are forecasting that the rainy season will start by the months of May or June. That’s a long, long drought.
I know that El Niño is part of the problem, but not responsible for all our climate problems. Multilation of our forests is another importat agent in the phenomenon of climate change in the Dry Belt described earlier.
Water is vital to the economy of our nation. The Panama Canal, our cash cow, depends on water for its operation. As much as 52mn gallons (Mgal, 236Ml) of freshwater are needed for each single transit through the Panama canal, most of which eventually ends up in the sea.
Total transits in 2012 reached 14,544, which represents almost 40 transits a day, leading to a daily water consumption of some 2bn gallons (Bgal).
Given that in 2005 the water used by the population in the metropolitan areas of Panama and Colon amounted to approximately 250Mgal (1,000Ml) per day, the canal uses eight times as much water as citizens in the area. Projections indicate that by 2025, this water usage will go up to 340Mgal per day, which is equivalent to the water required to perform six transits per day, according to official figures from the canal authority.
To keep our international waterway operating we need our water factories working like a Swiss watch. By water factories, I mean our tropical rain forests. That is not the case. Destruction continues.
Road construction, logging, gold mining, dam-building and colonization (which results in the clearing of forests for agriculture, pastures and firewood collection) are growing trends that lead to significant deforestation and ecosystem degradation. Illegal logging has increased over the last ten years and a highway proposed for the Darien Gap threatens to open up to logging and colonization one of the riches ecosystems on the planet.
While secondary forests are indeed growing the most biologically-rich mature old growth stands are still seeing major losses. On top of it all, the lands hardest hit by deforestation in the past have seen massive soil erosion, most of which has ended up in the Panama Canal, threatening to impact Panama’s main source of income.
The country as a whole is not aware of the vulnerability of our ecosystem and the dangers caused by the destruction of our forests. Recently one of our neighbors shaved a palm tree that provided shade to his house. To us, it was a typical example of how often we mutilate Mother Nature with no reason at all.
The comparison of both pictures speak more than a thousand words. It makes me feel so sad that this is happening in many parts of our country.
But life must move on and we must adopt a positive attitude and hope that this insanity will stop. Good Day!