Flooding in Thailand: A Human Problem

A recent New York Times article written by Seth Mydans analyzes the causes of the disastrous flooding this is currently occurring in Thailand. While this series of flooding had been deemed some of the worst in over half a century as it engulfs cites, businesses, and temples alike; it is by no means an isolated event as flooding such as this has been quite common in Thailand over the past few decades. To make matters worse, researchers and scientist say that this won’t be the last series of flooding either as the people of Thailand may be looking at flooding occurring again as early as next year. Worst of all, as bad as this information is, it would not be fair to say that this flooding is due to simple bad luck or even the wraith of mother nature, but rather it is caused by the human factor; specifically, the negligent and ineffective practices of Thailand officials. So, why are people blaming the government? Experts say that the monsoons are only part of the problem, the real problem is deforestation combined with overbuilding in water collection areas and the damming of natural waterways. Yet, despite the constant and continual warning by environmentalists and scientists, the government refuses to listen and meanwhile thousands of people are being driven away from homes they may never be able to return too and many more are losing a thing far more precious. Unfortunately, this type of man defying the laws of nature behavior is not isolated to Thailand. Much of the surrounding area is experiencing many of the same problems for the same reason. Flooding in the areas of Cambodia and Vietnam alone has led to nearly 300 deaths just this year. Granted, the monsoons in the area are part of the problem, but the biggest setback is poor government leadership. There is no logic behind building large cities in low altitude areas famous for collecting water and there is even less logic for making the same mistake twice, let alone five or six time. The international community as a whole needs to start changing policies likes these. While it may not seem like it, I do not think it would be going too far to say that this callous behavior borders of human rights violations. Granted, this may be a little extreme, but what else can one call such callous and irresponsible behavior. International pressure with bite may be only ways of dealing with this problem and, just to be fair, this problem is not just limited to Thailand and the surrounding areas, this is a global problem and it devastating effects can be seen all over the world.

One comment

  1. The decisions and policies employed by these governments causing dangerous deforestation and overbuilding lead to clear humanitarian concerns. Which is why I might suggest that our understanding as an international community of humanitarian intervention may require reconsideration. Surely, a government cannot protect its citizens from all of Mother Nature’s forces, but modern science provides our governments with enough information to plan around some of these forces. Thailand’s government has repeatedly ignored the warnings of scientists, and the international community has an obligation (dictated by innate human morality) to step in. The common perception, and application, of humanitarian intervention has involved criminal acts by countries against their own citizens. However, I do not see how a government, who continues to engage in activities that force its people into precarious situations, does not dictate a need for humanitarian intervention simply because it is not firing bullets at them. The end sought to be achieved by such intervention has been some form of a protection of human interests. Isn’t the intensification of the factors causing the floods jeopardizing the human interests of these people?

    I recognize that any intervention in Thailand by an international presence will endanger the boundaries of autonomy since intervention essentially overrules a government’s chosen practices. Any governmental autonomy, however, should be subject to scrutiny in this instance.

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