At brunch a while ago, a friend told me that Egypt (which depends on the lower Nile) has declared that it would bomb Sudan if Sudan were to start building hydropower dams on the top of the Nile. I had never considered that solution to the tailender problem, although maybe Paolo Bacigalupi has.


Borders Books is closing, putting 11,000 people out of work. That’s about the same as the number of agricultural jobs in the Delta (13,000). If I don’t want to be a hypocrite, I should either care more about the jobs lost in the Borders closing, or care less about the prospect of losing Delta agriculture to climate change and a Peripheral Canal.


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5 responses to “Proportion

  1. Matthew Heberger

    I am a little skeptical of your friend’s anecdote about Egypt threatening to bomb Sudan. In fact, Sudan has built, and is currently building, several dams on the Nile, with financing and technical assistance from the Chinese. Sudan has never historically used its entitlement to 18% of Nile waters under the Nile Waters Treaty negotiated by the British in 1959.

    The Merowe Dam was finished a couple of years ago, and the Kajbar and Dal Projects are underway.

    I think Egypt is a lot more concerned about dam building in Ethiopia. Even though they are the source of the majority of the Nile’s flow, they are entitled to exactly 0% of it under the treaty, which the country regards as illegitimate because it was negotiated by a colonial power that did not exactly have their national interests at heart.

    But they are pushing ahead with a huge dam, and frankly, who can blame them. Governments are more likely to use soft power to protect their water interests. Bombing just seems so… American.

    “Ethiopia says it will be forced to finance the dam from its own coffers and from the sale of government bonds because Egypt was pressuring donor countries and international lenders not to fund its dam projects.”

  2. It was hearsay, so I won’t defend the particulars at all. I may well be remembering them wrong. I’m intrigued by the concept, that’s all.

  3. Losing a job is obviously painful for anyone.

    But 11,000 jobs spread around the nation — in an industry (retailing) that is strong, diverse and vibrant — is different from 13,000 jobs that amount to a specific region’s entire economic base.

    Borders’ vacant storefronts will fill quickly. You can’t say the same for a region’s lost farms and the local economy that depends on them.

  4. bph

    As someone who lives in a town with an empty Border’s next to a bunch of other empty store fronts, the idea that they will “fill quickly” is laughable.
    Those jobs in the Delta are abstractions to me. The lost jobs in my town are not.

  5. Fair enough. But they’ll fill a lot faster than those emptied-out Delta towns.