Drought and flooding are two sides of the same climate change coin. As temperatures increase worldwide, water evaporates more quickly and dry spells become worse. At the same time, warm air can hold more water vapor, so rains can be heavier. In the past five years, Thailand has experienced its worst droughts and floods of the past few decades.
As if that weren’t enough, Bangkok, built on marshland and originally crisscrossed with canals — which are now mostly filled in — sinks nearly 4 inches each year, according to the Climate Institute. Coupled with rising sea levels, this means Bangkok could be underwater within 10 to 15 years, the group reported.
And cycles of intense drought and flooding can exacerbate that process. Just last week, Thai newspaper the Nation reported that roads are sinking and collapsing in the drought-stricken province just north of Bangkok.
While drinking water in the capital is running low, the whole country is facing damaging effects of drought. Thailand is the rice capital of the world, and the crop is expected to be low this year, after farmers have already been asked to delay their planting in central Thailand. The disruption could lead to protests and economic woes, farmers have said.
Thailand’s electricity system also depends on water supplies. The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) issued a warning this week that the letting too much water out of dams would be problematic.