About the floods
When the canals died, the flooding once briefly endured, became a monster out of control.
Above is a flood map of the Greater Bangkok area (Larger map here). Bangkok was once a city of canals. Photo below shows an aerial view of the "big bag" barrier put up across Vibhavadi Rangsit Road and Don Mueang airport to block the flow of floodwater to the two industrial estates and international airport lieing to the east. Residents say the bags are prolonging the floods in their areas (Photo: KOSOL NAKACHOL).
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COMMENTARY: Drowning in mega ideas by Sanitsuda Ekachai, Assistant Editor
Where the Thon Buri housing estate stands is sandwiched by two small canals. Back when flooding was part of the annual calendar for this part of the Bang Khunthian floodplain, the two canals helped take the high waters quickly away to the web of waterways downstream.
Now, the housing estate in western Bangkok is more than one metre deep under water.
The two canals - Klong Lad Lampu and Klong Rang Kaew - can no longer serve as flood-savers. One has been cut short by a big building. Another by a road construction.
When canals die, the flooding that once was to be briefly endured, has become a monster out of control.
The rising floodwaters from the two dead-end canals are now threatening to inundate part of Rama 2 Road which connects Bangkok to the southern provinces.
The death of canals is true not only of Bang Khunthian, but also the rest of the Bangkok floodplains. It is why the capital is suffering from much longer inundation than necessary.
Forget the romantic idea of days long gone when free-flowing canals were sources of water for household use, for fish and water-borne vegetables, and for swimming fun. In inner Bangkok today, canals survive mainly as sewers to carry black, putrid water to a bigger sewer called the river. In the outskirts, most canals have become shallow, clogged with garbage and weeds, or have completely disappeared due to unregulated urban planning. And, of course, corruption.
Our abuse of canals has finally struck us back in the face during this epic flood. The water runoffs are ready to flow out into the sea, but they cannot. It is the same problem everywhere - clogged canals.
District officials actually had months well in advance to dredge the canals in Bangkok and outlying areas. Yet they did nothing despite their huge budgets for canal dredging every year. Where has the money gone?
It is the same story with eastern Bangkok, which has been officially designated as the floodway. More than 26 canals here have disappeared from the map. The rest still needed serious dredging when the runoff arrived.
Just in case you are wondering why it took so long for the authorities to divert the runoff to the floodway, look at the map. It is now home to two industrial estates, an international airport, and a web of roads lined with housing estates.
After seven industrial estates and Don Mueang Airport went under water, the government just couldn't risk losing any more investor confidence. So western and northern Bangkok must endure the prolonged, fetid floodwaters until the two industrial estates and Suvarnabhumi Airport are safe.
But even when diversion of floodwaters to eastern Bangkok was ready to begin, clogged canals still stubbornly resisted the waterflow and caused widespread spillovers.
Indeed, the devil is in the details. But canal dredging and restoration of old waterways and swamps is not such an exciting idea. There is not much money in respecting the floodplains' ecology either. So be prepared for a host of mega ideas that will soon swamp us.
Special flood expressway. Giant tunnels as underground floodway. A new river. Even a new capital. These are just some of the big flood-fighting ideas from the past week alone. More is surely coming.
Meanwhile, don't expect politicians to give up their old push for big dams just yet.
It is clear. The wrath of Mother Nature cannot sway us from our fixed belief in money and technology. Why restore the old web of waterways and swamps? Why reduce urban growth and adjust our lifestyles? Why decentralise to strengthen local capability to cope with natural disaster management? Why discuss fair compensation for those who must endure the floods to keep Bangkok dry? Why sweat when we firmly believe money and technology can spare us from future floods.
There are many lessons to learn from this epic flood, including the need to respect Mother Nature. Whichever the mega projects the government chooses, what is maddening is that it is always the people, particularly the poor, who must shoulder the disastrous consequences.
Sanitsuda Ekachai is Assistant Editor, Bangkok Post
(Source: Bangkok Post, COMMENTARY, Drowning in mega ideas, 17/11/2011, Sanitsuda Ekachai, Assistant Editor, link)
Flood Critical Thinking Vocabulary
critical thinking - "the process or method of thinking that questions assumptions. It is a way of deciding whether a claim is true, false, or sometimes true and sometimes false, or partly true and partly false. The origins of critical thinking can be traced in Western thought to the Socratic method of Ancient Greece and in the East, to the Buddhist kalama sutta and Abhidharma. Critical thinking is an important component of most professions. It is a part of the education process and is increasingly significant as students progress through university to graduate education, although there is debate among educators about its precise meaning and scope" (See Wikipedia)
drown - die after head goes under water without air and cannot breathe
mega - very big, very large
drowning in mega ideas - meaning: too many big ideas (not enough small practical ideas)
Mother Nature - nature as a mother, either literally in the form of an earth goddess or figuratively in the form of a poetic metaphor, "a common personification of nature that focuses on the life-giving and nurturing aspects of nature by embodying it in the form of the mother. Images of women representing mother earth, and mother nature, are timeless. In prehistoric times, goddesses were worshipped for their association with fertility, fecundity, and agricultural bounty. Priestesses held dominion over aspects of Incan, Algonquian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Slavonic, Germanic, Roman, Greek, Indian, and Iroquoian religions in the millennia prior to the inception of patriarchal religions" (See Wikipedia)
respect - to accept the importance of someone or something นับถือ
the need to respect Mother Nature
wrath - extreme anger ความโกรธเคือง
wrath of mother nature - when Mother Nature gets angry she punishes humans with lightning bolts, floods and other natural disasters
sway - to influence or change someone's opinion มีผลต่อการตัดสินใจ
fixed belief - a belief that is always the same; never changes
the wrath of Mother Nature cannot sway us from our fixed belief in money and technology
In inner Bangkok today, canals survive mainly as sewers to carry black, putrid water to a bigger sewer called the river
survive - still alive and not dead; to continue to live and exist มีชีวิตรอด รอดพ้น อยู่รอด สืบต่อไปได้ to manage to deal with something difficult or unpleasant, in this case, to continue in the same job despite many problems รอดไปได้
sewers - the underground canals that remove wastewater from homes and businesses, moving it to a place where it can be treated and made safe (See Wikipedia)
putrid - smelly very bad (because of decay and rotting things)
outskirts - the areas at the edge of a city, the edge or end of a town ชานเมือง
clogged - blocked, so that nothing can get through ตัน
shallow - not deep ตื้น ที่ตื้นเขิน
most canals have become shallow, clogged with garbage
dredge - to remove unwanted things from the bottom of a river, lake, etc. using a sucking or other device ขุดลอก
dredge the canals
housing estate - an special area for homes (with many houses near to each other)
X sandwiched by Y - X is between Y (squeezed between with very little room or space)
where the Thon Buri housing estate stands is sandwiched by two small canals
annual - happening once a year ประจำปี
calendar - a printed table showing all the days, weeks and months of the year ปฏิทิน
when flooding was part of the annual calendar
floodplain - flat land next to a river that floods easily during periods of heavy rain when the river is full (See Wikipedia)
downstream - at an late stage in the process of producing a product for sale (late in the supply chain)
canals helped take the high waters quickly away to the web of waterways downstream.
X serves as Y - X does work Y, X has function Y, X does useful thing Y
can no longer serve as flood-savers
construction - the work of building or making something, especially buildings, bridges, etc. การก่อสร้าง
road construction - building roads
briefly - for a short time ชั่วครู่, สั้นๆ, ในเวลาสั้นๆ
When canals die, the flooding that once was to be briefly endured, has become a monster out of control.
inundate (verb) - flood
inundation (noun) - flooding น้ำท่วม
dead-end canals - canals that don't flow into a bigger canal or a river (they just end at some point)
suffering - physical or mental pain or problems ความทุกข์ทรมาน
capital - the city that is the center for government in a country
it is why the capital is suffering from much longer inundation than necessary.
romantic idea - a nice cream, an idea that is uses the imagination a lot but is perhaps not practical
household - a group of people, often a family, who live together ครัวเรือน
borne - carried ถือ หรือนำไป (อัญเชิญ ประดิษฐาน)
water-borne vegetables - vegetables that grow on the water (such as the lotus; also see hydroponics)
unregulated - an activity without rules or laws governing and controlling it
urban - in a city or town ในเมือง
urban planning - the process of planning how different areas of a city or town will be used and then making sure the plan is followed (See Wikipedia)
unregulated urban planning
corruption - (See Wikipedia on bribery, corporate corruption, and political corruption)
abuse - to use or treat someone or something wrongly or badly, especially in a way that is to your own advantage ใช้ในทางที่ผิด cruel, violent tor unfair treatment, especially of someone who does not have the power to prevent it โหดเหี้ยม ทารุณ
abuse of canals
epic - an event or activity that lasts a long time and is difficult or complicated งานที่ยิ่งใหญ่
an epic flood - a very long and difficult flood
water runoffs - water from rain that runs from the land and mountains into rivers
runoff - rainfall that cannot be taken in by the soil and which flows into rivers, lakes or the sea ปริมาณของเหลวที่ไหลออก
designated - formally chosen for a special purpose แต่งตั้ง, ที่ได้รับการแต่งตั้ง chosen for a duty แต่งตั้งให้เป็น
officially designated - chosen for some special purpose by the government and given a special name
eastern Bangkok, which has been officially designated as the floodway.
authorities - government officials; the police or people in official organisations who have the legal power to make people obey laws or rules เจ้าหน้าที่ (ตำรวจ หรือผู้มีอำนาจ)
divert - make travel in a different direction, along a different route เปลี่ยนเส้นทาง to use something for a different purpose เบี่ยงเบน
why it took so long for the authorities to divert the runoff to the floodway
international - ระหว่างประเทศ between countries
international airport - an airport that planes from other countries fly to (sometimes even small airports like Chiang Rai's are international airports)
risk (noun) - danger, how likely or possible it is for a bad event that causes harm and damage ความเสี่ยง
X risks Y (verb) - bad thing X might happen to person X
investor - a person or organisation that puts money into a company in exchange for a future profit นักลงทุน
confidence - feel sure about something, trusting and believing in something ความเชื่อมั่น ความมั่นใจ
investor confidence - when investors feel sure about the safety of their investments
the government just couldn't risk losing any more investor confidence
endure - to suffer something difficult or unpleasant in a patient way over a long period of time อดทน อดทนเพื่อให้ผ่านเวลาหรือเหตุการณ์ที่เลวร้าย
prolonged - continuing for a long time, lasting a long time ยืดเวลาออกไป ยืดเวลาต่อไป
fetid - when water or air has a very strong bad smell
fetid floodwaters - floodwaters that smell very bad
western and northern Bangkok must endure the prolonged, fetid floodwaters until the two industrial estates and Suvarnabhumi Airport are safe
widespread - happening or existing in many places, or affecting many people อย่างแพร่หลาย
stubbornly - will not do it (but should do it)
spillovers - water going over (spilling over) some barrier (such as a floodwall or dyke)
clogged canals still stubbornly resisted the waterflow and caused widespread spillovers.
the devil is in the details - meaning: the details are important here (refers to "a catch or mysterious element hidden in the details") (See Wikipedia)
restoration of old waterways and swamps is not such an exciting idea
ecology - the relationships between the air, land, water, animals, plants, etc., usually of a particular area ความสัมพันธ์ระหว่างสิ่งมีชีวิตในระบบนิเวศน์
not much money in respecting the floodplains' ecology either
a host of - many
be prepared for a host of mega ideas that will soon swamp us.
clear - easy to understand
swamp - an area of wet land with wild plants growing in it (See Wikipedia)
web - a network; a complicated structure with lots of connections and relationships between things in the structure
restore - to cause a particular situation to exist again, especially a good one ฟื้นฟูสภาพ
restore the old web of waterways and swamps
adjust - to change something slightly, especially to make it more correct, effective, or suitable ปรับ
adjust our lifestyles - change the way that we live everyday
centralize - when decisionmaking power is given to managers at the center of an organization or country
decentralize - when decisionmaking power is given to managers at the local level or low down in the company hierarchy
local - in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about ท้องถิ่น
capability - the ability to do something ความสามารถ
local capability - the ability of local areas to do something
cope - to deal with a problem or situation, continue to operate and function despite problems รับมือกับ (See glossary)
local capability to cope with natural disaster management - the ability of local areas to deal with floods, storms, other disasters themselves
natural - found in nature (not made in a factory by humans) ตามธรรมชาติ
disaster - something very bad that happens and causes a lot of damage or kills a lot of people ความหายนะ ภัยพิบัติ
natural disaster - a disaster coming from nature such as a flood, earthquake, tsunami, storm, etc
Why decentralise to strengthen local capability to cope with natural disaster management?
compensation - money paid for some loss, for harm or damage done เงินชดเชย การจ่า่ยเงินชดเชย
fair compensation - the amount that a person should be given for a loss that they experienced (here: the flood plans saved industrial estates, but harmed residents in northern Bangkok)
spare - to prevent someone from having to experience something unpleasant ยกโทษให้,อภัยโทษ
spare us from future floods - prevent future floods hurting us
sweat - 1. here: work hard; 2.the liquid that comes out of the skin when you are hot, to cool the body down เหงื่อ
Why sweat when we firmly believe money and technology can spare us from future floods?
shoulder - to deal with or accept something difficult แบกรับภาระ หรือสถานการณ์
disastrous - extremely bad or unsuccessful ซึ่งทำให้เกิด (ภัยพิบัติ, ความหายนะ, ความโชคร้าย)
consequences - results of some actions or events
the poor, who must shoulder the disastrous consequences - poor people are the ones affected in a bad way