And if the city of Bangkok was submerged by the waves ?

Rise in sea level, shoreline erosion, urbanization: Bangkok, home from 4 to 9 September, the preparatory meeting of the COP-24, the next UN conference on climate, is sinking inexorably and could be partly submerged by 2030.

Built on the marshy lands at 1.5 meter above the level of the sea, the metropolis of more than ten million inhabitants “sag today of one to two centimeters per year and a risk of flooding to be very important in the near future,” said Tara Buakamsri, director of Greenpeace Thailand, in an interview with the AFP.

Nearly 40% of the city could be flooded

During the great floods of 2011, more than one-fifth of the city had been submerged. The peripheral areas had been particularly affected, while the business district had been spared thanks to the dikes erected in haste. A scenario that is bound to happen more and more frequently: “nearly 40%” of the city could be flooded as soon as 2030, according to forecasts of the world Bank, which ranks the city as one of the most threatened of Asia, with Jakarta.

Bangkok, the “city of bigeye on a skeleton of a child” according to the expression of the geologist Thanawat Jarupongsakul, is first a victim of its development frantic: the weight of the skyscrapers that are going up in the city in perpetual transformation, contributes to its engulfment progressive.

And “the many canals that crossed the capital, once called the Venice of the East, have in part disappeared, covered by the major highway network. They were, however, a good system of natural drainage,” says Suppakorn Chinvanno, an expert on climate, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok.

The problem also comes in millions of cubic meters of water pumped into the groundwater for decades.The use of groundwater is now regulated but some continue to puncture in any illegality: in January, the thai police has inspected dozens of brothels, who are accused of the siphon to provide “massage soapy” to their customers.

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The city is also a victim of climate change which is pushing up the waters of the Gulf of Thailand to 4 millimeters per year, higher than the global average. “Today, it is already largely under the level of the sea,” says Tara Buakamsri. As to the miles of coastline that border the capital, they are under significant erosion.

Floods in 2011

“We had built many farms of shrimp, which has amplified the phenomenon,” emphasizes Suppakorn Chinvanno. Threatened in the south by the sea, the city is in the north very vulnerable to the flood of monsoon rains, and “the specialists expect that storms of higher intensity in the years to come,” he adds. In the aftermath of the 2011 floods, the government had unveiled a plan of prevention, which was abandoned after the military coup of may 2014.

“We need to constantly monitor the weather factors and geographical and adapt each year,” stresses Narong Ruangsri, director of the department of drainage and sewerage of Bangkok.

Today, “we have important tools: a network of channels up to 2.600 kilometers, pumping stations and eight underground tunnels to remove the water. Another tunnel, giant is under construction and three others are in the study”, details there. A park was also built in 2017, specially designed to drain several millions of litres of water from rains and to reorient them so that they do not fill not the surrounding neighborhoods.

Have also been built dikes additional along the water ways, the new retention basins, and canals have been cleaned up.But, for some experts, these plans are very expensive may prove to be inadequate. “It should be a clear policy of land management in the city”, points out Tara Buakamsri.

“It is also necessary to plan for more green spaces designed to absorb flood waters. But the price of the land very expensive in Bangkok that the economic interests are the priority”, he laments. Others also fear that the levees do not protect certain areas such as the central business district, at the expense of the neighborhoods popular devices.

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