future of global trade in jeopardy:
Can the Panama Canal Expansion Project Survive Global Warming?
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) accounted for the political, economic, and social impacts of expansion; they didn't consider a warming planet.
On April 24, 2006, Panamanian President Martín Torrijos proposed the Panama Canal expansion project. The project aimed to double the capacity of the Panama Canal. It added a new traffic lane, a new set of locks, and both widened and deepened the existing canal. These measures allowed larger ships to pass through, increasing the volume of traded goods and boosting Panama’s service-based economy. The promise of economic growth motivated Panamanian citizens to approve the project. 77 percent voted in favor of the expansion referendum and the project broke ground in 2007. On June 26, 2016 the expanded canal opened. The canal expansion project succeeded in allowing larger boats to pass through, but it failed to account for global climate change. Rising sea levels and extreme weather, associated with rising temperatures, pose a major problem to the future success of the Panama Canal expansion project. The canal relies on a steady water level to allow boats smooth and efficient passage. Unpredictable fluctuations in water levels can prevent vessels, in particular larger vessels, from traveling through the canal. When one vessel stagnates in the canal each vessel following it experiences delays. Delays anger companies relying on the canal for trade, who may opt to use a competing canal instead. Panama could lose it's trade gains if it does not adjust the existing infrastructure.