Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013



History took place last week in Central America.  At the shores of Lake Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega met with the CEO of the HKND Group, Wang Jing.  Together, they held hands at the water's edge and announced to the world their amazing and stunning plans.  (No...they are not having a gay marriage!  We just get dramatic at the DUNER BLOG.)  The two men told reporters they will begin constructing a new canal next year.  It will link the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.  They dream of a colossal canal that will handle three times the traffic of the silly old Panama Canal.

The first question you're asking yourself is: Do we really need another trans-continental canal?  The answer: Yes.  Maersk Line is the world's largest shipping-container company.  Last year, they began re-routing most of the ships on the Shenzhen / New York route through the Suez Canal.  Why?  Because the 100-year old Panama Canal is too small and too crowded.  Next question: How much will it cost? Estimates are around $40 billion...which actually isn't that much for such a huge undertaking.  Although the canal will be three times longer than Panama's...the land is much flatter...so less digging is needed.  Actually, Teddy Roosevelt wanted to build the canal in Nicaragua, but couldn't overthrow their government as easily as in Panama / Colombia.

Readers are also curious: Why is China involved?  It's all about cash.  While the USA and China are tenuous political partners, the two rivals sure love to trade.  Americans can't buy enough Chinese products, spending $425 billion on them last year alone.  As for exports, China is very interested in purchasing items from the Atlantic Coast.  Specifically, they want American grain and Venezuelan oil.  A new canal...with special prices for Chinese ships...would be great for the P.R.C. 

The last question involves the environment.  Will the canal impact ecosystems?  Of course it will!  The main problem involves Lake Nicaragua.  The freshwater lake is huge...the largest on North America south of the Great Lakes.  Mar Dulce...as the natives call it...is home to a huge variety of plants and animals, including the endangered Nicaraguan Shark.  The introduction of salt water, sewage and human pollution would instantly contaminate the world's 19th largest lake.  Environmentalist worry something like an accidental oil spill would be catastrophic.

Lovely Lake Nicaragua.
However, none of these possible scenarios were on the agenda at last week's Sino-Nicaraguan Summit.  Rather, the speeches given by both sides were filled with lofty phrases and high aspirations.  "Our future is very bright." Jing proclaimed.  "Full of hope!"  We here at the DUNER BLOG share the hopes of the new canal.  And if anyone can build things quickly in the 2000's...it's the Chinese.  As referenced in an earlier blog (AUG 22 THE LONGEST BRIDGES IN THE WORLD), the first, second, third and fifth longest bridges in the world are all in China...and they were all built in this century!

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