By SPENCER NEUMAN, age 10
The government of Nicaragua is planning to build a canal that scientists say will harm the environment. The Nicaraguan Academy of Sciences and National Geographic say that the project will threaten rainforests and endangered species. Like the Panama Canal, the Nicaragua canal will link the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The new canal will compete with the Panama Canal, which is currently the only canal linking the Pacific with the Atlantic. The project is expected to start by the beginning of 2015.
A group called Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company (HKND Group), based out of China, is the company in charge of the project. Cutting through Lake Nicaragua, the canal will be three times longer than the Panama Canal and will cost $40 billion. Scientist Rachel Nuwer of Smithsonian Magazine says that the project would destroy one million acres of rainforest land. It will also damage Lake Nicaragua, endangering the local water supply and kill lots of wildlife, such as freshwater bull sharks, sawfish and tarpon that provide food to local people.
“The Nicaraguan government and people have a very good deal”, says HKND chief project advisor Bill Wild to South China Morning Post. “If that project gets built, there’ll be no expenditure for [Nicaragua], they don’t have to meet any of these upfront costs.” He believes it will bring jobs and money to the country. But the scientists say that the environmental risks are too great. Jorge Huete-Pérez, a molecular biologist at Universidad Centroamericana in Managua, Nicaragua told ScienceInsider, “This is the most imminent threat to the environment in Central America. It’s more urgent than climate change.”