Blame Yingluck for climate change

2 07 2015

Yingluck Shinawatra has been blamed for many things by her political opponents. Some of the accusations descended to base misogyny. In a report at the Bangkok Post, Nipon Poapongsakorn of the royalist Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) says that “the current water shortage has its origin in the mega-flood that hit the country in 2011.”

We tend to agree with this and with his statement that: “It [drought] is the failure of the water management policy. Drought and flooding are related problems and cannot be managed separately…”.

We are a little less sanguine about this as the bureaucrats are ignored:

In the wake of the disastrous flooding, the Yingluck Shinawatra government adopted a policy to maintain low water levels in the Sirikit dam in Uttraradit and the Bhumibol dam in Tak, to create capacity to collect water during heavy downpours.

PPT has few doubts that the Irrigation Department has become reluctant to store large amounts of water in dams after being severely criticized in 2011. Nipon’s other claim is, we think, him being nothing more than royalist critic:

Later in 2013, the Yingluck government introduced the rice-pledging scheme, which significantly increased rice planting in the Central region and required a large amount of water for paddy fields.

Nipon always hated this scheme, as did many of the other royalists at TDRI. Yet much of the criticism of Yingluck and her government ignored the fact that she and her government had only been in place a couple of months before the deluge, yet she and her government copped a lot of the blame for the 2011 flooding.

Nipon seems to be blaming Yingluck for everything including natural forces, climate change and more. Yet consider this report in the Asia Times:

Thailand and Vietnam, the world’s two largest rice exporters, face severe drought conditions that threaten to severely undermine this year’s crops and global supplies. Climate change and El Nino are variously being blamed for the unusually hot weather and lack of rainfall, which began with an early end to last year’s tropical rainy season.

We should quickly add that this report is dated 2 July 2010. That’s today, five years ago. According to a research paper, the 2010 droughts and floods:

… provided evidence of increasing extreme weather events in Thailand. In 2010, Thailand experienced the worst droughts and the second worst floods in the past two decades. Because the tropical rainy season ended earlier than usual in November 2009, together with global warming and the El Niño phenomenon, Thailand experienced unusually hot weather and a lack of rainfall at the beginning of 2010. As the country entered the hot season in March, experts had issued national drought warnings, and these droughts stretched until almost the end of August. The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department declared 64 provinces to be disaster areas because of severe water shortages. The drought had an adverse impact on more than 4 million people, mainly through damaged agricultural production. The drought damaged 2746 km² of farmland with the estimated loss of 1.5 billion baht (US$46 million; Rerngnirunsathit 2012). Later in the year, Thailand experienced a series of flash floods and seven incidents of flooding. From 15 July to 30 December 2010, all regions in Thailand were hit by floods caused by the La Niña phenomenon, which brought about higher than average rainfall and a longer period of precipitation. The southern part was further hit by a tropical depression, which brought about heavy rainfall and flash floods lasting from 1 November 2010 to 25 February 2011. A combination of inadequate drainage and a well above average rainfall intensity left the country totally unprepared for the disaster. The death toll from the floods stands at 266 people with 1665 people injured. In total, 74 provinces were affected by the floods, 17,455 km² of farmland was damaged with the total estimated loss of 16 billion baht (US$536.6 million; Rerngnirunsathit 2012). A long, severe drought prolonged beyond the first half of the year, followed by destructive floods later in the year, made 2010 a unique year to study the impacts of climate variability.

Perhaps not so unique. The 2011 floods followed extraordinary rainfall in early 2011.

But, heck, if a royalist, let’s blame Yingluck for floods, droughts and for time slowing down.


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