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Bangkok May Become First Coastal Megacity To Relocate To Higher Ground

Bangkok area in flood

After months of flooding ravaged the city of Bangkok, lawmakers in Thailand have decided to submit a motion to discuss building a second capital or moving Bangkok to higher ground.

According to Sataporn Maneerat, a Puea Thai party MP, “another 19 Puea Thai MPs and I have signed and submitted a motion to parliament to seek approval to set up a committee, to consider whether the capital should be moved or if Thailand should have a second capital.”

The current megacity of 12 million has developed rapidly over the past decade, boasting an annual GDP growth rate of 7%.  However, the metropolis is also located on swampland, and continued development of Bangkok has led to a situation where the capital is now sinking under its own weight.

The low-lying megacity is located only 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of the Gulf of Thailand, which experts view as an increasingly vulnerable location as sea levels rise and climate change leads to more severe monsoons. The latest floods have been rated as the worst in 50 years, as 4 feet of rain hit Thailand in a week, forcing 1000 industrial suppliers to shut down and leading to the deaths of 562 people.

A recent World Bank report on the impact of climate change to coastal megacities stated that “in Bangkok in 2050, the number of persons affected (flooded for more than 30 days) by a 1-in-30-year event will rise sharply for both the low and high emission scenarios—by 47 percent and 75 percent respectively— compared to those affected by floods in a situation without climate change.”

Therefore, Bangkok’s environmental problems will only accelerate as extreme weather events intensify throughout the 21st century.

And according to Anond Snidvongs, climate change expert at the capital’s Chulalongkorn University, if no action is taken to protect the city, “in 50 years… most of Bangkok will be below sea level.”

Image CC licensed by DVIDSHUB: Bangkok area in flood, October 2011

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