Bangkok, Dhaka, Jakarta, Manila and Shanghai are among top sinking Asian cities

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Bangkok, Dhaka, Jakarta, Manila and Shanghai are among top sinking Asian cities

by Michael Bridge

It is no secret that Bangkok is up there on the list as one of the fastest sinking cities in Asia, if not the World.

• Bangkok, Dhaka, Jakarta, Manila, and Shanghai are among the most at-risk sinking Asian cities.

• By 2030, some six hundred million Asians will be affected by rising sea levels.

• Cyclones, storm surges, high tides, and sea-level rise to cause serious flooding by 2030.

• This is developing as rising sea levels and climate change are posing serious threats to the population and economy of several Asian coastal cities — Bangkok, Dhaka, Jakarta, Manila, and Shanghai, among them.

• Threats come from a combination of tropical cyclones, storm surges, high tides, and sea-level rise that increase the risk of serious flooding by 2030.

• Some six hundred million people worldwide — the majority in Asia — will be affected by rising sea levels in flood-prone coastal regions, some of the economic centres.

Rising seas could affect three times more people by 2050 than previously thought, according to new research, threatening to all but erase some of the world’s great coastal cities including Bangkok.

What is the Thai Government doing?

Apparently, the government along with Bangkok, has several flood prevention initiatives including the dredging of canals, improving Bangkok’s drainage systems, and increasing the height of a 77-km flood wall along the Chao Phraya River.

Bangkok is not alone as many parts of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City are sinking by 0.2-0.4 inches per year.

According to a research report by the Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment and the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, the city has sunk by around 1.3 feet (0.4 meters) already.

Also, it has become so serious that Jakarta, the largest city of Indonesia, has already started to create a new capital city.

President Joko Widodo announced in 2019 that the capital would need to move from Jakarta due to rising sea levels and the risk of building collapse.

Now the name of the new city has been unveiled: Nusantara, which means ‘archipelago’.

It’s being built in the province of East Kalimantan on the island of Java.

Cities at risk by mankind

The main reasons cited were “over-exploitation of underground water, rapid urbanization and effervescent transport activities.”

Cities at Risk of Coastal Flooding, Ranked by Exposed Population in 2070 Coastal City Exposed Population Estimate (per million)

Kolkata 14.0 Mumbai 11.4 Dhaka 11.1 Guangzhou 10.3 Ho Chi Minh City 9.2 Shanghai 5.5 Bangkok 5.1 Yangon5.0 Miami 4.8 Haiphong 4.7

Sinking cities are urban environments that are in danger of disappearing due to their rapidly changing landscapes.

One of the main reasons contributing to these cities becoming unlivable are the combined effects of climate change, combined through rising sea levels, intensifying storms, storm surges, land subsidence, and accelerated urbanization.

Several of the world’s largest and most rapidly growing cities are located along rivers and coasts, exposing them to natural disasters.

Bangkok is a good example of sea and river flooding.

As countries continue to invest people, assets, and infrastructure into these cities, the loss potential in these areas also increases.

Sinking cities must overcome substantial barriers to properly prepare for today’s dynamic environmental climate.

Nearly two metre rise by 2100

Although reports vary widely in predicting the height of sea level rise in the future, IPCC estimates predict a 1-meter rise over the next century.

Other reports consider the IPCC estimates to be far too low and suggest levels closer to 1.9 meters by 2100.

Nevertheless, sea level rise is an unavoidable reality.

Philippine’s city underwater

Even as Asia’s megacities continue to submerge, officials of one small Philippine city are planning a major US$460 million reclamation project that will damage or sink their beautiful seaside city into the dark blue southern sea.

Scientists and environmentalists have called on the local government of Dumaguete to scrap the reclamation project, citing the devastating impact it may have on the marine environment and coastal communities.

The 174-hectare project seeks to develop the site as a “5G-ready mini-city, complete with shopping malls, condominiums, esplanades and other business establishments”.

Bit of an extreme solution for a city the size of Bangkok, but it just shows how serious we need to take this global threat.