The short answer is yes. Bangkok is located on the central plains of Thailand, and it is situated only about 1.5 meters (5 feet) above sea level. The region is crisscrossed by several rivers and canals, and its geographical location makes it vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise.
But before we go rushing off to throw paint at sculptures and glueing ourselves to paintings, know that this is as much an engineering and government issue as it is a climate change issue.
Because while climate change may be the number one factor in rising sea levels, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projecting that sea levels could rise by several feet by the end of this century if emissions continue unabated, there are ways to mitigate it if the Thai government was proactive and forward looking.
Currently, however, we are bound to a five year plan introduced by the great intellectual Prayut Chan-ocha so unless we get a competent government in soon, we’re all doomed. The current plan is to cut emissions by 2050 but fails to address the engineering issues needed to combat rising sea levels. Hell, Bangkok gets flooded every time there is a moderate thunderstorm.
A real threat
Bangkok faces multiple threats from sea level rise. Firstly, the city’s low-lying coastal areas and river deltas are susceptible to coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion. As sea levels rise, it increases the risk of flooding and can lead to the contamination of freshwater sources, which poses challenges for the city’s water supply and agricultural activities.
Additionally, Bangkok’s extensive network of canals and drainage systems, which were originally designed to manage seasonal flooding, may become less effective as sea levels rise. The increased water pressure from rising seas can lead to more frequent and severe inland flooding, especially during heavy rainfall or storms.
This means real engineering solutions are needed to both fix the systems that are in place and plan for future sea level rise.
For an example of a government that is succeeding in managing coastal erosion and sea level fluctuations, there is a real world example in the Netherlands. Their combination of dikes, flood barriers, land reclamation, and river management means that they are much more ready to combat the problem.
The Thai government, to be fair, has been implementing various measures to mitigate the risks of sea level rise in Bangkok. These include constructing flood barriers, improving drainage systems, and enhancing coastal protection measures. However, the long-term viability of these measures depends on effective planning, continued investment, and government oversight. In short, we’re doomed as it stands.