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ASEAN ANALYSIS  13 October 2010

Water- too little or too much

By David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs     13 October 2010

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Water appears to be a growing issue in Asia as every day, news seems to indicate that the availability of drinking water is a growing problem and in the case of rising ocean levels, too much is another issue.

Environmental experts have predicted for some time that water would be the “oil of the 21st century” and today’s news from the Philippines indicates just that. The burgeoning population of the Philippines is expected to outstrip by 40 percent in 2030, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The solution it is suggested is to involve everyone in a plan to conserve water as well as the development of infrastructure to meet the challenge. With such a stark future 20 years ahead, it will be of great interest to see what the response of the Aquino administration is to this “elephant in the room.”

From Asia straight through to China, anticipate more water stories throughout the coming year. One must thank the ADB for bringing critical attention to the issue.

Although Kevin Costner’s film, “Water World” didn’t receive favorable reviews, it did address in a futuristic way, the possibility of oceans swallowing up a good portion of the land as ice caps and icebergs continue to melt.

Several weeks ago a respected Thai scientist predicted that Bangkok would be uninhabitable in seven years as the Gulf of Thailand, part of the Pacific Ocean, is a scant 40 miles from Bangkok. The Chao Phraya river flows through Bangkok and it would be the water highway to carry the rising tides straight into Bangkok.

The scientist’s prediction was met with, well, silence. No government statement such as, “We know this and we’re developing a plan.”

Yahoo picked up the story and placed Bangkok as number seven , right behind New York City, on a list of seven cities that could be overwhelmed by ocean levels.

Not an appealing future for the seven cities or the rest of the world, if this indeed does happen.

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