Saving the Panama Canal – level 3

10-07-2024 15:00

Lake Gatun was flooded in 1913 to create the Panama Canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

This canal serves as a crucial global commerce transit route. However, due to climate change exacerbating El Niño, one of the driest years on record for the Panama Canal has occurred. This leads to an unusual sight of trees protruding from the water during the rainy season when the lake should be at its highest. This low water level is limiting vessel passage, affecting global trade.

Some ships face longer routes around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope or the Suez Canal, while others engage in bidding wars for canal slots, which results in increased shipping time and costs.

The issue is anticipated to worsen as Central America is expected to receive less rainfall in the future due to climate change. Fixing the problem could cost billions and take years if it’s even possible.

Difficult words: exacerbate (to make a problem or bad situation more intense), protrude (to stick out), slot (a place in an arrangement or scheme).

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What are some potential consequences of the low water levels in Lake Gatun for global trade and what challenges may arise in addressing this issue?


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