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This is climate change: When is Thailand going to do something about it?


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OPINION

This is climate change: When is Thailand going to do something about it?
By Michael Shafer
Special to The Nation

 

BANGKOK: -- The rivers have escaped their banks. They have destroyed millions of rai of paddies and fields newly prepared for planting.

 

They run dark red with upstream farmers’ topsoil. They have destroyed billions of baht of public investment in communication, transportation and electrification infrastructure. They have destroyed factories, merchandise, families’ homes, medical equipment and supplies, bank offices, tambon and amphoe records. They have destroyed millions of children’s desks, chairs, textbooks and computers. As they recede, they leave behind a blanket of toxic mud contaminated with millions of tonnes of human and animal excrement, industrial wastes, pesticides, diesel fuel and hydraulic fluid, and the effluent of every upstream garbage dump and landfill.

 

It is May, the month of first showers of the coming rainy season. May showers are supposed to soften the hot season-hardened earth for planting. No more. Today, May downpours tear erosion channels in the earth.

 

This is climate change and it is forever. We have talked about it for years – and done nothing to prepare. Now it is here and we are paying for our tomorrow-is-another-day attitude.

 

We cannot stop the torrential rains, powerful storms, droughts, torrid temperatures, spreading ranges of disease bearing mosquitoes, rising sea levels, disappearing beaches and falling crop productivity.

 

All we can do is to build defences.

 

The floods and terrible toll that they extracted over the past few months tell us two things: (1) we are defenceless now and (2) we have a huge task in front of us to harden Thailand for what is to come.

 

On April 24, the governor of Bangkok apologised to city residents for the recent flooding. In almost the same breath, he noted that the city can drain only 60 millimetres of rain per hour – and had faced more than 100mm per hour during the night. This is without flood waters.

 

Bangkok in the rain embodies the challenge that climate change poses for Thailand – and our failure to confront it. Here we have the governor apologising for minor flooding due to heavy rain. The cost in lost business is large – but compared to what?

Scientists are projecting rapidly rising sea levels in the next 50 years. In Bangkok, port facilities, large areas of the city, a subway, transportation infrastructure and water purification plants will flood. 

 

So where is the aggressive action to protect the irreplaceable investment in Greater Bangkok? Where is the discussion of how the potential flooding of Bangkok may affect, for example, the terminus of the new rail deal with China? Where is consideration of climate change in planning for the great Eastern Corridor development push? Are the huge new port facilities, for example, planned to cope with a rise in sea level of 3 to 6 metres?

 

Have you heard? I haven’t – and I worry about climate change for a living.

 

It is easy to dismiss all this as fear-mongering. It is not. It is a prosaic call for buying insurance to ensure that when the inevitable happens, the costs are contained.

 

When I taught at university, my students often asked, “Who needs expensive health insurance? Health insurance is for old people.” Until you are hit by a drunk driver.

 

Drunk drivers are inevitable. Drunk drivers are predictable. Only a fool would not insure himself against getting hit by a drunk driver.

 

Climate change is inevitable, too. Its consequences are predictable. So where is the insurance?

 

Too costly, you say? Slows our drive to become a 4.0 country?

 

Thailand is paying – wasting – billions of baht annually repairing damage caused by climate change. How big do you think the bill for the past three months of flood damage will be in terms of destroyed national infrastructure, business assets, private property, lost business, lost productivity, simple clean-up? And how much would it have cost to build a national flood control system – even without discounting for the economic stimulus that the public spending would have had in our stagnant economy?

 

Not interested in agriculture? Out of step with the new, digital Thailand? In the North where I live, the Internet goes out every time it rains. If that happens now, what will be the cost of replacing the government’s new every-village-in-Thailand-will-be-on-fibre after every flood? Does the budget for the new system include waterproofing insurance against climate change? Or are we content to continue to pay and pay and pay to clean up after the inevitable, no matter what the cost to everything else we care about.

 

And that is the problem. A baht spent on climate change insurance pays for itself every time it rains. Every baht spent on clean up after a flood that good insurance could have prevented is money diverted from another purpose – higher education, elder care, high speed rail.

 

All insurance premiums seem onerous when the sun is shining; you pay when the sun is shining so that when the storm strikes, you do not waste billions cleaning up the mess.

 

This is a government that prides itself in its ability to take decisive action. Now is the time for decisive action. Now is the time to assess Thailand’s vulnerabilities to climate change, the vulnerability of major capital projects that are on the drawing board and of plans for the future.

 

Michael Shafer is director of the Warm Heart Foundation, based in A Phrao, Chiang Mai.

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/opinion/30316678

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2017-05-30
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Quote

It is easy to dismiss all this as fear-mongering. It is not.

 

It is when you write things like:

 

Quote

Are the huge new port facilities, for example, planned to cope with a rise in sea level of 3 to 6 metres?

 

Even the IPCC's worst case scenario for the year 2100 is just under 1 m ... by 2300 is "up to" 3 m.
 

Quote

 

The IPCC report projects reflects stronger scientific understanding of sea level rise and projections for future sea level rise high are higher than in previous IPCC reports. If emissions continue to track at the top of IPCC scenarios global average sea level could rise by nearly 1 m by 2100 (0.52−0.98 m from a 1986-2005 baseline). If emissions follow the lowest emissions scenario, then global average sea level could rise by between 0.28−0.6 m by 2100 (compared to a 1986−2005 baseline).


Sea level rise will continue for centuries to thousands of years after greenhouse gas concentrations are stabilised due to the long lag times involved in warming of the oceans and the response of ice sheets.


For the first time the IPCC provides projections for 2300 in its latest report. Sea level rise by 2300 could be kept to less than 1 m if concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are stabilised below 500 ppm, or could reach up to 3 m if concentrations of carbon dioxide rise above 700 ppm.

 

http://www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/climate-science/climate-change-future/sea-level

 

 

Edited by Salerno
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Last year we were just recovering from a devastating drought at this time. So it's a little premature  to claim May's rains are definitive of a changed climate. For this writer climate change means floods for Thailand, he knows for sure. I suspect, however, if he had to write this article last year climate change would have meant drought. It is the most convenient of all bogeymen. Climate change is everything bad (floods, blizzards, hurricanes, droughts and earthquakes) and is caused by uncool thing man does. At least ever since the industrial revolution, because we all know that is when climate change began; about 10,000 years after the last major ice age. And despite the fact that during every historical warming period, humanity experienced a rise in prosperity and innovation. This time around we know for sure that warming means global catastrophe.

 

Flood protection and water management are serious issues in this country and I do not make light of that. But why don't we say that since Thailand experiences floods and droughts on a regular basis, and has done since there has been a Thailand, that they need to be taken more seriously with a more coherent and educated approach; rather than just write another Chicken Little article, which will be quickly forgotten by Henny Penny.

 

 

 

 

 

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On 5/30/2017 at 7:25 AM, quadperfect said:

Maybe all this destruction will force the submarine deal under water?

Or maybe they will buy 6 and get 2 free?

 

That's only if they have a member card.

Edited by metisdead
Please do not modify someone else's post in your quoted reply, either with font or color changes.
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On 5/30/2017 at 5:11 AM, webfact said:

It is May, the month of first showers of the coming rainy season.

Must be kidding. Been hammering down, thunder, lightning almost everyday of May. If the rainy season's still to come I suggest moving to higher ground. 

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I am new to Thailand, is flooding in Bangkok something new?

Did rainy seasons just start due to "climate change".

 

Bangkok floods because it was built on a swamp and the land it is built on is sinking and the sea levels are rising (and have been for tens of thousands of years). It will not get better, and will always be worse during the rainy season which also has occurred regularly due to Indian Ocean monsoons (recorded in human history for at least a couple of thousand years).

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Universities in Thailand have shown reforestation can impede global warming greatly.  It takes about three years for a forest to generate to where the animals will start to live in it.   Without further interference from governments, electric cars will be plentiful.   Solar cells get cheaper and more efficient every year.  Ships at sea are said to be responsible for 10% of the worlds air pollution.  That may be less now sense shipping is way down.  Governments and politicians sound the alarm, but only want to tax people more for ineffective efforts.  Even if you do not believe in global warming, you may wish the world to be a cleaner place.

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predictions of sea level rise are very problematic. eh?

but if you do a lot of reading, and all of it recent stuff.... post 2000 and especially the last few years... and you make a very subjective guess [that's all you can do] as to which folks to believe..... I believe James Hansen and his big, widely reviewed over several years, ACP study that came out just after Paris, in early 2016, is the best thing as of today to hang a hat on.      

Hansen says multi meter sea level rises in the next 50.... to 150 years..... are already locked in.

and everything seems to continuously confirm that study.... from many different directions.... i.e. exactly where the sea level rise would come from, what we would see as it is happening, what the past history of the Earth shows us..... 

the abrupt sea level scenarios are not about thermal expansion or the melting of ice.  it's about disruptions in deep ocean currents... and especially the breakup and failure of sea based ice shelves which are buttressing land based ice sheets in West Antarctica.... where the geography would allow this to happen.

and all of the recent new discoveries..... such as last week's GNET discovery at RINK (albeit that that is in Greenland... but also relevant, of course, and is my example du jour because it was just a few days ago)..... do nothing but confirm that the Climate Guys have been way way way too optimistic... and that has even included Dr. Hansen.... and other good folks who keep trying to get our attention.

and I really like how Bill Gates handles all of this... well into a Q&A at Caltech about half a year ago.... it's on Youtube.... he just says it is all "mindblowing". and all hangs on negative emissions, Gates has always been plugged in and is plugged in now more than ever.... and doesn't mince his words.... but no one can say X meters in X year. but multi meter rises may quite possibly occur in many folks lifetimes who are already alive today.

 

the ice thickness is known. the size and depth of the ocean is known. and the history of the Earth is something we have and are investigating.  we have numbers on all of these. but it's like the Big One in LA.... exactly when???? and how bad? well, bad we know. what is it something like up to 10 or 15 feet of lateral slip slide outside Palm Springs to be released? egads.

but if you want to know you gotta do a lot of reading.. to get a real feel for it at all. and it should be very recent stuff.  what we knew in the 1970's is okay for predicting the temperature (Exxon did this! and very accurately)... but not for how the ice sheets will blow off.... we are still just learning on that. it's quite difficult... the places that need to be surveyed.... the scale and complexity of features involved... of course!

but the record seems to show that.... when you put it all together..... and they knew this in the backrooms at Paris 2015..... adults to adults.... that 6 to 9 meters of sea level rise is probably locked in.... but over what specific decades within our lifetimes or those of the now being born generation???? no, we don't know this detail at all. it is like predicting the Big One in LA...... it's quite unlike predicting more moisture because of higher temperatures. it involves large bodies of land, sea and H2O. yes?

of course it does. 

 

Edited by maewang99
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it's really enlightening when the "anti" Climate side talks only of nonsense.... and so does the "pro" Climate side..... and none of it is current discoveries.... just nonsense talk... on both sides.

best example is Leonardo DiCaprio and Harrison Ford..... talking... not that long ago... about Fires in Indonesia.... and ice slowly melting... in Greenland. 

professional nonsense.

why no one is even mentioning last week's RINK discovery [yeah, in Greenland]?

  it requires reading, and time especially   

    it's boring

     it's not fun

      and it's not nonsense.

it's on the web. NASA... whose funding for this stuff is gonna by decimated.

and not nearly enough shit is pouring onto Steve Bannon and Donald Trump's little heads.  

not nearly enough.

 

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9 minutes ago, maewang99 said:

it's really enlightening when the "anti" Climate side talks only of nonsense.... and so does the "pro" Climate side..... and none of it is current discoveries.... just nonsense talk... on both sides.

best example is Leonardo DiCaprio and Harrison Ford..... talking... not that long ago... about Fires in Indonesia.... and ice slowly melting... in Greenland. 

professional nonsense.

why no one is even mentioning last week's RINK discovery [yeah, in Greenland]?

  it requires reading, and time especially   

    it's boring

     it's not fun

      and it's not nonsense.

it's on the web. NASA... whose funding for this stuff is gonna by decimated.

and not nearly enough shit is pouring onto Steve Bannon and Donald Trump's little heads.  

not nearly enough.

 

 

Some years ago (but less than 8 years ago), one of the geniuses at the Thai met. bureau pooh-poohed the problems predicted to be caused by the melting of the Greenland ice sheets, on the basis that 'Thailand is too far away to be affected' (unquote).

 

Difficult to argue sensibly with that.

Edited by Trumpish
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3 hours ago, quadperfect said:

Maybe all this destruction will force the submarine deal under water?

Or maybe they will buy 6 and get 2 free?

need more subs... they will can be used as police cars when the city is under water

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More rain due to climate change? I await better evidence. If it is, Thailand can do nothing about it as it's a global issue.

 

More flooding due to deforestation exacerbated by inadequate drainage - absolutely.

 

Sorry folks, but I think nature has to be allowed to cap mankind's activities, and if flooding helps keeps the insane rate of economic growth in check, good. Let it flood. One could argue it doesn't flood enough. There's just temporary inconvenience in some places, then everyone just carries on populating and concreting-over the flood plain. So it goes on year after year. Evidently, the inconvenience is considered worth it.

 

I am pioneer of a movement advocating economic containment. I was apparently the first to do so many years ago. The means to do this is to give Nature equal legal rights as an occupant of the planet, and defend those rights even at human expense. We need a whole new legal library defining crimes against Nature.

 

In effect it will involve a good deal of austerity in the medium term, but that's for the sake of long-term stability. Of course it is extremely difficult because it is human nature to leap forward and find out what's there, no matter what, rather than not to leap and not to know. I am aware of this. However, to carry on with unbridled growth and its consequences will result in a world stripped of meaning in which there is nothing worth knowing.

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"...when is Thailand going to do something..."  (my italics)

Realistically? It is not going to happen while powerful authorities with self-interests remain in charge!

Edited by lvr181
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Thank god your still not teaching or should I say brainwashing. All the items you mentioned have nothing to do with climate change. They come under the plain old pollution heading. Would make no difference what the climate did or did not do. It is still pollution and very bad housekeeping. 

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There isn't a thing Thailand could do to reverse climate change. Unless they gave up all of their cars and replanted the entire country. I understand what the OP is saying about the localized damage to the environment and hope they do take steps to fix it. 

 

However this isn't going to stop the oceans from rising. Maybe the Thai air force could fly over the south pole and drop dry ice on it or something? Unless Thailand has the technology reverse glaciers thawing they have no impact on climate change.

 

The issue with climate change is that basically every single human being on the planet would have to change their lifestyles dramatically. The model the entire world economy is based upon would have to be rejected by every nation on a wholesale basis. This simply won't happen.

 

 

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Climate change has been constantly happening the past 4 billion years and is nothing new and humans are not responsible or able to do anything about it. The   graph below shows the atmospheric CO2 levels over the last 400 million years, low CO2 give rise to ice ages, high CO2 (1 000 ppm) gives warm climates like the Carboniferous where the earth was covered in forest and billions of dinosaurs lived, this is where we get our coal from that powers the worlds power stations. As you can see from the graph we are heading for an ice age if the CO2 continuous to fall. We actually have to increase the CO2 levels to 1 000 ppm to avert an ice age and get beck to a Carboniferous climate to be able to feed all the people. Please note the industrial evolution only represents 0.1 micron on this scale and is insignificant. The earth will do whatever it wants and there is nothing we can do about it, except  to clean up our environment as best as possible so we don't poison the human race in it own waste products.

 

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I agree with most that Nokawou says. For years my argument against the experts has been that the data they have collected and claim supports the human cause of global warming is inadequate.

 

Would we be happy if drug manufacturers had their products approved after testing them on one or two subjects? I wouldn't be, that is for sure!

 

But I do think that humans should clean up their act and act more responsibly to reduce or eliminate pollution, it is bad for our health in many ways. Pollution is driven by mankind's greed.

 

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19 minutes ago, peterpaintpot said:

I agree with most that Nokawou says. For years my argument against the experts has been that the data they have collected and claim supports the human cause of global warming is inadequate.

 

Would we be happy if drug manufacturers had their products approved after testing them on one or two subjects? I wouldn't be, that is for sure!

 

But I do think that humans should clean up their act and act more responsibly to reduce or eliminate pollution, it is bad for our health in many ways. Pollution is driven by mankind's greed.

 

I have always held it is nature at work (via the sun?). We have had an Ice Age in the past and when that came to an end (global warming) where were the people responsible for it? Now people may be contributing to it but we are not causing it!

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