Trouble in Paradise: The Uncertain Future of the Panama Canal Amid Climate Change and Global Trade Shifts

Do you know that at present the Atlantic Ocean is jammed? Many 1000 containers are standing in line, and all of them are waiting to cross the 80-kilometer river and reach the Pacific Ocean. This 80-kilometer route is one of the most important shipping routes in our world, or what is called the Panama Canal. Panama Canal is that canal that was almost impossible to build, or this canal was called the world's deadliest construction project in human history because it took so many years to build, or it took thousands of people. I saved my life. Now the question arises: why is this canal so special, or why was it so necessary to make it? I will tell you.

The Panama Canal | S2 LTS

Economic Importance and Future Relevance of the Panama Canal

About 6% of the world's sea trade passes through this checkpoint between South America and North America. This canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and every year, about 13 to 14,000 cargo ships pass through this western part of America. This is the shortest and safest way to connect the coast to Europe, Africa, or the Middle East, or because of the banning of this canal, many countries or companies have started getting profit. 

But this canal is now in big trouble, and if this problem is not resolved soon, then its impact will be felt all over the world. After all, what has happened to this channel that it is being banned? To know the answer to this question, please watch this video till the end. Now, to understand this problem properly, we will have to go back in time to about 150 years ago, when a man was quite intelligent in the entire world. In France, a man named Ferdinand the Great was becoming very famous all over the world. 

Ferdinand was a French diplomat who built the Suez Canal in 1869, through which the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea were connected through a very short route. Before this, the ships coming from Asia and the Middle East had to cross the whole of Africa to go to Europe and America. This canal was a turning point for world trade, and after getting confidence from its success, Ferdinand decided to build the Suez Canal. Similarly, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans will also be connected by making a canal.

At that time, the ships sailing from America's Eastern Coast Line had to cross the entire South America and reach Western South America, Asia, and Western North America. This was a distance of approximately 20,000 km; the only way to shorten it was to build an artificial canal in Panama through which ships could easily move from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. 

Ferdinand thought that he would be able to build this canal easily, like the Swiss Canal, but his guess was wrong. because the simple way to make way here was to blow up the entire area with dynamite so that space would be created for the ships.

Historical Significance and Construction Challenges of the Panama Canal

But in reality, this was not such an easy task because this entire area was very dangerous. There were mountains and dense forests in this entire area, and there used to be very dangerous storms. Whenever Ferdinand's engineers used dynamite here, land sliding would happen, and many people would die. Apart from this, another big problem is yellow fever and malaria. It took 8 years to clear this entire route, and about 20,000 workers died. 

Buliding Panama Canal | S2 LTS

That is why the Panama Canal is called the world's deadliest construction project in human history. Because of so many people and fines and losses, investors funding on this project was stopped, and Ferdinand's company bank went bankrupt in 1890.

 After this, work on this project remained stalled for almost 14 years. Then,  in 1903, Panama gained independence from Colombia with the support of America, and in return, America took all this land from Panama on a 100-year lease. Ab America ne ye jamin hi kyu li, because American leadership had this idea that if America wants to grow economically, then the Panama Canal is very important for it. That is why in the very next year, 1904, American engineers started work on this project again, and this time American engineers had a very great idea. 

They thought that instead of removing the entire land, they just cut a little bit from the top of these mountains, filled this area with water, and then launched ships here through locks. And will take it down. Locks are actually a system through which ports are raised and lowered. With the help of these locks, ships could easily move from one ocean to another. 40,000 workers worked on this project, along with 100 tractors, steam engines, and escalators. It started, and then, after 10 years, on April 15, 1914, the Panama Canal was opened for ships. This project was really a project that gave the history of engineering. or were tremendous engineering techniques used in the project? 

Apart from this, two artificial lakes were also created to fill the canal with water. Approximately 375 million dollars were spent on this project, and along with it, 5000 workers also lost their lives, and these people Because of the sacrifice and planning, this unbelievable project was completed, and today this canal is the most important financial resource in Panama. 10% of the revenue of the entire Panama comes from this one canal only.

According to the data of the Canal Control Authority, a fee ranging from $10,000 to $3 lakh is charged to ships passing through this canal, and in peak season, this price even doubles. Recently, there was news that a chemical tanker To pass through here, 2.5 million dollars were given. Now this question must be coming to your mind: why are such high charges taken to pass through the Panama Canal? Because the process of operating these locks is very technical and difficult. And along with many people, many skilled engineers and machine operators are also required.

Now it is known how  the canal was built, after how much struggle this project became possible, which gave peace to the whole world. Now we come to the problem that has made the future of the Panama Canal doubtful.

Current Challenges and Potential Solutions for the Panama Canal

In fact, as I told you earlier, the American engineers did not level this route at all but only cut the mountains a little higher and created two artificial lakes so that this part gets filled with water. One of these two lakes is Lake Gatun, and the other is Lake Alawuela, and water comes into this canal from this lake. After the water comes, the sea ships are made to cross by going up and down with the help of locks, but the problem in this whole process is that a lot of water is wasted.

Power of The Panama Canal | S2 LTS

Now, as long as there was a lot of rain in Panama, there was no problem, but since 2016, the weather of Panama has changed a lot due to global warming, especially in 2019. There was such a drought that everyone got scared, and the water level here has risen. It became so low that it became very difficult for ships to pass through here, and Panama imposed cargo restrictions on ships so that their weight would be reduced and they would not sink in less water. In September 2023, the Panama Government imposed daily restrictions here. Not more than 32 ships will be able to pass through here daily,

As a result, lines of container ships formed in front of this canal. As you can see in the footage, despite this restriction, the problem is not being solved because the rainfall has been reduced by one dam. 2023 was Panama's second-driest year since 1953. Because of the lack of rain, this lake is rapidly depleting, posing new challenges for Panama. 

Recently, the Government of Panama has announced another project in which another small dam will be built in the west of this canal, which will be connected to Lake Gaitan through an 8-kilometer underground tunnel. This will be done so that this water never dries up in the lake, but right now this plan is under discussion, and even after being approved, according to experts, it will take at least two and a half years to complete.

The Rise of the Arctic Route and Geopolitical Interests

But in the meantime, there is another practicable route for these ships, and that is the arctic route. As the weather is getting warmer due to global warming and the ice is melting, this route is becoming more attractive for ship owners, which is why it is becoming very popular. 

New Artic Route | S2 LTS

Now the eyes of the countries are also on Greenland coming on this route. China, Russia, and the and the USA, like all the world superpowers, want to take control of Greenland, but the reason for this is not only that it is the shipping route of the Arctic, but Greenland has many treasures hidden inside it. Which are coming out gradually. Now you will get to know soon who will eat that food, because you must tell us your opinion. Is it really near the end of Panama Cancal? Please tell us your opinion in the comment box. share,