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Bangkok is sinking - slowly but surely

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Bangkok is sinking - slowly but surely

Postby NorthAmericanguy » Sat Nov 12, 2011 2:44 am

"There is no going back. The city is not going to rise again," said the ADB's lead climate change specialist David McCauley. -TNP

Thu, Nov 10, 2011
The New Paper

The floods besieging Bangkok now could just be a foretaste of the sinking Thai capital's grim future as climate change makes its impact felt, experts say.

The low-lying metropolis, built on swampland, is just 30km north of the Gulf of Thailand, where, experts forecast, the sea level will rise by 19 to 29cm by 2050 as a result of global warming.

Water levels would also increase in Bangkok's main Chao Phraya river, which already overflows regularly.

If no action is taken to protect the city, "in 50 years... most of Bangkok will be below sea level", said MrAnond Snidvongs, a climate change expert at the capital's Chulalongkorn University.

Groundwater extraction

But global warming isn't the only threat. Years of aggressive groundwater extraction to meet the 12 million-strong city's growing needs have also been blamed for Bangkok's gradual sinking.

The city was sinking by 10cm a year in the late 1970s, according to a study published last year by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

That rate has since dropped to less than 1cm annually, they said, thanks to government measures to control groundwater pumping.

But Mr Anond disputed their projections, saying the capital was still sinking at "an alarming rate" of 1cm to 3cm a year.

While scientists may argue over the exact figures, they agree about what lies in store for Bangkok.

"There is no going back. The city is not going to rise again," said the ADB's lead climate change specialist David McCauley.

Given the combined threats facing Bangkok - land subsidence, rising temperatures and rising sea levels - the World Bank has predicted that the city's flood risk will increase four-fold from now by 2050.

And the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has classified the Thai capital among the 10 cities in the world facing the biggest potential impact from coastal flooding by 2070.

For now, Bangkok is relying on a complex system of dykes, canals, locks and pumping stations to keep the rising waters at bay.

But the flood protection efforts failed to prevent an onslaught of run-off water from the north from swamping at least a fifth of the capital.

The murky flood waters, triggered by three months of heavy monsoon rains, are edging in on Bangkok's glitzy downtown area, threatening luxury hotels, office buildings and shopping malls.

Rapid urbanisation is one reason the rains are affecting the sprawling megacity so badly, experts say.

As the area that needs flood protection gets larger and more built-up, the water "has fewer places to go", said Dr Francois Molle, a water management expert at France's Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement.

Bangkok will eventually be underwater. "The only question is when," said Dr Molle.

Experts say Thai authorities must address the capital's land use and consider relocating factories or industrial parks in flood-prone areas.

Time to move?

Or even moving the entire city, AFP reported. Said Mr Anond: "It may be appropriate for the people who want to be dry 24 hours a day, 365 days ayear, to be setting up a new city.

"We do have areas where we can develop a new city that would be completely dry. There's a lot of land in this country."

It may sound drastic, but there is little doubt that Bangkok will have to act if it wants to avoid the fate of the fabled sunken city of Atlantis.

"To remain where it is, the city will need better protection," said Mr Robert Nicholls, a professor of coastal engineering at Britain's University of Southampton.

He said he expected Bangkok's current flood misery to "trigger massive investment in defences over the next 10 to 20 years". ... 09598.html
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Postby NorthAmericanguy » Sat Nov 12, 2011 2:46 am

Not sure what you guys make out of this, but for me, I would be apprehensive about retiring in Thailand because of this.

I would hate to be 80 years old having to deal with regular flooding and financial resources running out.
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Postby Repatriate » Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:18 am

You're right retiring permanently in Bangkok and investing a lot of money into assets located in the city or the flood plain is a bad idea but most expats aren't planning to spend their whole lives there. Based on what the condo prices are around Thailand it seems like it's far better to rent anyways.
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Postby ladislav » Sat Nov 12, 2011 5:21 am

The Thais need to visit the Dutch and learn about dams and windmills.
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Postby Mr S » Sun Nov 13, 2011 10:09 am

ladislav wrote:The Thais need to visit the Dutch and learn about dams and windmills.

Good luck getting Thais to accept "Farang" assistance with their flooding issues. They would be more apt to go to China. (And their three dam project has already got problems) Ha ha. Don't buy a condo in Bangkok. Other parts of the country are probably still okay.
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Postby cadams84 » Mon Nov 14, 2011 4:49 am

I just heard on the news they are asking people to leave parts of bangkok because of the flooding there.
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