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Volume 18, Number 2
February 26, 2011

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nature

Also in this section:
Consider these things to have an honest and intelligent debate on hydroelectric dams
Coral snakes: the old adage can kill you in Panama
Mapping the Arctic Ocean
Fish ID guide free on iTunes
An upcoming supernova
Childhood mortality
This dry season: Angling in Panama
Fossil mammals from up and down Chile
Transforming the tuna industry



The argument is about the nature of the rivers and what his relationship to them will be, but when those who would dispossess him of the land and water resources change the subject to national energy policy, they are on shaky ground there, too. Photo by Guaire Mendögüänë Morera Bägämä

If Panama is to have an honest and intelligent debate about whether we need new hydroelectric dams....

Some of the things that should be considered

Editor's note: Below are a number of videos about energy alternatives that should be considered as a part of any real debate about hydroelectric dams in Panama. It's not that this is an exhaustive inventory of topics --- it's far from that. Nor is the point that there is a "magic solution." However, those who say that the hydroelectric dams are the only solution or the best solution for Panama's energy needs misrepresenting the problem. They are presenting a dishonestly edited version of the pertinent information and any intelligent discussion of the issue will necessarily include things that are being omitted or misrepresented.

The political and economic facts of the matter are that:
  • Powerful families own stakes in the hydroelectric projects and these families are using their influence in government, business and professional organizations, the mainstream news media and even segments of the environmentalist movement to make a simplistic pitch that Panama needs the many hydroelectric dams for which concessions have been granted;

  • The public is not told that Panama presently has unused electric generating capacity;

  • We are given projections about Panama's future energy needs, or in a slightly different form about the region's future energy needs and Panama's role in exporting electricity to meet them, which discount any possibility of progress in the field of energy efficiency in Panama or in the neighboring countries;

  • Less socially and environmentally disruptive possibilities for electricity generation are left  out of the discussion for no other reason than that they are inconvenient for those with investments in dams.

Here, then, are some videos to reflect upon in preparation for the next round of public debate about hydroelectric dams in Panama:





























    



© 2011 by Eric Jackson
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