Flooding in Lopburi, Thailand. Photo: withit / CC
Since July, floods have ravaged Thailand, causing $3 billion in damage and killing nearly 300 people. But as the waters approach the capital city, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra says he is confident that Bangkok's defenses will hold, reported Reuters. The flood walls, dikes and dams are all that stand between the city's 9 million residents and water levels expected to reach more than seven feet high.
Flooding in September in Ban Phattha Ya, Chon Buri. Photo: anothersaab / CC
That is not to say that the country has escaped unscathed. Along with the loss of human life, industrial output has largely ground to a halt as entire towns are submerged. More than 700,000 homes have been damaged, many destroyed. In Bangkok, residents have cleared stores of basic provisions and are prepared for the worst, though they are likely to escape significant damage.
Throughout Southeast Asia, floods have been a major source of concern in recent years, and million of inhabitants in super-dense cities are regularly at risk. China was hit this summer, Australia in January.
Floods are natural disasters and are related to regular monsoon seasons, but the role of global warming can't be ignored. Melting glaciers in Tibet increase water levels in China. More relevant here, warmer temperatures mean more intense monsoons. More flooding.
It looks like Bangkok will escape major damage this year, but many lives have been lost and much of the country is in tatters. And without evidence that global temperatures are going down, it's likely we'll be talking about this issue again next year.
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More on flooding and Asia:
Amphibious House Design Goes With The Flow, Rises With Floods
Five Asian Nations To Study How To Cope With Floods
At Least 20% of Pakistan is Underwater (Video)