Disaster in Lake Nicaragua

Braswell, Kristin. "Lake Nicaragua: See This Massive Lake Now before It's Changed       Forever - CNN.com." CNN. Cable News Network, 04 Mar. 2015. Web. 08 Mar. 2015. http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/04/travel/lake-nicaragu...

This is a news article reporting an ongoing event. Developers at Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company (HKND) are building a 50 billion dollar canal in Nicaragua. This canal would create a new shipping route through Nicaragua by connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The company was given permission by the Nicaraguan government in 2013 to build and operate the canal and announced the beginning of construction in December 2014 (to be completed in 2019). When finished, it will be deeper and wider than the Panama Canal. It will run through Lake Nicaragua, among other areas, which supports thriving aquatic ecosystems and several local communities. Many worry that the dredging of the lake will render it a "dead zone," meaning that few species will be able to survive in its waters due to hypoxia (low oxygen levels). The algal blooms caused by eutrophication (caused by dredging) could lead to toxic pollution of freshwater supplies due to rotting plant material. Other concerns include the introduction of invasive species and water pollution due to increased ship traffic. Not only would it effect aquatic ecosystems and the water supply of countless people, but also the livelihoods of said people. Unfortunately, some 30,000 people will have to be relocated to make way for the canal. Dr. Jorge A. Huete-Perez, vice president of the Nicaraguan Academy of Sciences and director of the Molecular Biology Center at the University of Central America says that one of the biggest problems with this canal project is HKND's lack of transparency. The company has only approached the Nicaraguan government with its grand plans, leaving Nicaraguan residents out of this important decision.

The obvious ethical dilemma in this situation is the environmental damage that will inevitably occur as a result of the canal's construction. Although the canal will increase economic activity in the area and hopefully stimulate local economies, ecosystems will be permanently disrupted, endangering the survival of countless aquatic species and human communities that are dependent upon the health of said species. Human health will also be threatened as increased water pollution will endanger the natural right to clean drinking water. However, the most striking ethical dilemma in this situation revolves around the Christian norm of Participation. Nicaraguan residents have a right to be presented with the facts, discuss and debate amongst themselves, and then decide on whether or not this canal should be built. HKND deliberately shut them out of this decision by going straight to the Nicaraguan government to obtain permission for this project. They denied these important stakeholders their right to make decisions concerning issues that directly affect them. Ultimately, this situation involves the exploitation of the environment and the people who depend on the health of said environment.

I believe that the construction of this canal should be stopped. Environmentalist organizations have overwhelmingly warned of the devastating consequences of such a huge project. Also, the right of the Nicaraguan people to participate in decisions that directly affect their lives has been blatantly ignored. Therefore, either all construction of the canal should be stopped or the local people should be given the opportunity to participate in this decision.

Question: How should this issue be solved? Should it be put in the hands of the Nicaraguan people? Or is the government within its boundaries to authorize the construction of this canal?