Mutilating Mother Nature

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.


Photograph of a healthy palm tree softly swaying its leaves in the wind one cool morning.  It was one of the first things I saw when I went out to our terrace to watch the skies.  It was a serene scenery of life.  Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.


This is how the palm tree looks now after it was mutilated.  It’s a very painful sight for us.  All its leaves have been chopped up, and I wonder if they will ever grow again.  I sometimes wonder if trees feel pain when they are mutilated.  Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

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!

6 thoughts on “Mutilating Mother Nature”

  1. Oh, that’s very serious problem for your country, dear Omar! Something should be done and very quickly! Sending some positive trends…

  2. Morning Ana:

    The problem is critical and the problem is here. But most of my peers are getting ready to celebrate de festivities of Carnaval (Mardi Gras). A whole week will be lost to the wild parties of the flesh. Nudity, alcohol, sex, street dancing, and drugs will be plentiful in most of the cities of Panama.

    Trucks loaded with water drained from the shallow rivers will sprinkle water to the revelers to calm the heat. This precious water will be needed as the country heats up and the rivers dry up. But that is not relevant at this moment. The cry of the crowd is “Agua, Agua, Agua” (Water, Water, Water) as the rhythm of the wild tropical music echos in the streets. Insanity has taken over our country by storm. But it is what it is.

    Albert Einstein was so right!

    Sorry for my negative attitude today Ana, but seeing this happening is very disappointing to me. We must protect our planet, We have no where else to go.

    Best Regards,


  3. Hola Omar,
    My memories of Panama go back to 1968. I first visited Chiriqui in 1970. The changes are drastic when I visit now. I worry for my second home country. Too many people are coming to paradise and then changing it. Makes no sense to me. jim

    1. Hola Jim y Nena:

      It worries me too. There has to be a balance between progress and conservation. If destroy our natural envirnoment and replace it with jungles of cement, glass and steel; at the end of the day we will lose as a species. We won’t survive.

      If we don’t allow progress to advance, we will probably go back to live in the caves. There has to be a balance. After all we are the “Homo Sapiens”, but all to often we behave like a species gone loco.

      These two pictures are eloquent in their stories about this very critical story of our times.

      In the case of Boquete, an overpopulation will certainly kill paradise. If we don’t stop the stampede there there will be nothing left except barren hills.

      Makes no sense to me either my dear friend.

      Best Regards,


  4. This is really sad and your photos really bring it to heart. That poor palm tree! People need to wake up to what is happening Now and not when it is too late. I had read about the water trucks spraying water on the carnival goers and thought that is just plain ignorant to that when you are in such terrible droughts.

  5. Hi Barbara:

    Yes my dear, the country is upside down. Black is white, and white is black. I don’t kinow why this happens, but there is absolutely no reason to waste gargantuan amounts of water when our rivers and lakes are going belly up. Beats me.

    I feel so sorry for the mutilation of the once beautiful work of Nature. But there’s no use crying over spilled milk.



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