Thursday, October 9, 2008

Er, your city is sinking

Global warming is the big worry these days, but by the time the melting polar ice caps get around to raising sea levels, it looks like Jakarta might be in a spot of trouble.

That's because the city is already sinking, thanks to residents tapping groundwater on a massive scale. "It's like Swiss cheese," says the World Bank exec who's trying to raise the alarm. "People are digging deeper and deeper, and so the city is slowly, slowly sinking."

By 2025, in fact, the city will be 40-60 cm lower than it is now. The witch's brew of a dense (and growing) population, insufficient water infrastructure, groundwater tapping, and six months of the rainy season are enough to overwhelm almost any noble effort. Apparently a program of dredging the existing canals that crisscross the city, along with building a new $560-million canal to buttress those efforts, will help mitigate the increasing floods.

But as for groundwater tapping, I'm not exactly sure how you tell residents to stop. Poverty has a tendency to focus the mind on immediate needs, not the survival of your city decades down the road.

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1 comment:

Brett said...

I was led to believe that its business/industry that is causing the problem, not so much the residents... I might be wrong, though!