Ten million people live in Bangkok — a metropolis more populous even than New York City — and the ground beneath their feet is literally sinking into the ocean.
Sea level rise due to climate change is presently only a bit player in this environmental catastrophe. Worse is the fact that the land is subsiding due to groundwater pumping, compression under the weight of enormous skyscrapers, and the destruction of an ages-old complex of canals and fields that used to soak up floodwaters, but have largely been supplanted by development.
As a result, Bangkok is sinking between 0.6 and 2 inches per year.
In the medium to long term more than 1m buildings, 90% of which are residential, are under threat from the rising sea level. In due course the ground floors of buildings could be awash with 10cm of water for part of the year, according to the Asian Institute of Technology.
One proposed solution is an enormous complex of dikes along the coast, at a cost of $2 billion.
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