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A vicarious effect of the naming of the two committees, which can turn out to be the best thing after all, is that it is inspiring.

Although Bhutan’s tobacco ban is rigorously enforced, its government does not have the hindrance of owning and operating a thriving tobacco monopoly.

Mr Anand noted on the day the committee members were revealed that reforming Thailand “is not up to the two of us”.

It is doomed to fail or be left on the shelf to gather dust if the public does not put its mind into it.

It seems to have given many people a reason to be hopeful again, after being enclosed in the doom and gloom of seemingly endless political conflicts.

The members have not only achieved so much in their respective fields of work but they also come from a variety of backgrounds that will complement their mission.

The task of national reform will be tackled with a balance of intellectual exuberance and practical knowledge.

There is room for the public to start feeling hopeful.

It is uplifting to see so many people who have led a life of integrity join hands to find a better hope for the nation.

The extreme form of confrontational politics in Thailand formed of acrimony between the yellow shirted  rightists and the red shirted leftists has established a tit-for-tat pattern that ensures that there will continue to be cycles of protests with each cycle more vicious than the last with Bangkok, the seat of government, as the venue.

As Bangkok is also the commercial and transportation hub of the country and the primary  international air travel and tourism gateway, all of these facilities are vulnerable to protest mayhem as we have seen in recent months.

As a way of preparing the country to withstand these protests and of keeping their economic cost to the nation as low as possible, it may be advisable for Thailand to consider the Brasilia model. This model suggests that there is no good reason for the country’s seat of government to be located in its commercial center. In fact, in the case of Thailand there are probably good reasons for government and commerce to be geographically separated in this manner.

Perhaps the capital of Thailand could be moved north closer to the center of mass of the country not including the isthmus. This kind of separation will likely spare the country’s tourism and commercial hub from protests gone awry. As a secondary benefit, the construction of Thailand’s Brasilia might also serve as a public works project to stimulate the economy while at the same time distributing modern infrastructure to the hinterland.

Cha-am Jamal

Reference: The world turns right Thailand turns left, Bangkok Post, July 9, 2010

It is argued that since budget deficits and looming sovereign debt crises in Britain, Greece, and elsewhere in the EU have driven these nations into austerity programs to cut spending as a way of balancing the budget, Thailand should follow follow suit with an austerity program of its own instead of increasing government spending with new populist programs for free train tickets and such  (The world turns right Thailand turns left, Bangkok Post, July 9, 2010).

Austerity programs are not like a fashion trend to be followed as the new “in” thing to do. They are made necessary by harsh economic realities such as unsustainable budget deficits, an excessive amount of sovereign debt, and falling bond ratings. If an austerity program is prescribed for Thailand the argument must be supported with the relevant economic data for Thailand, and not simply with the observation that austerity programs have become fashionable in the West.

Cha-am Jamal

Thailand

Dreaming is the mental evolution between sleep and consciousness.

Congee does not have enough nutrients to benefit your body at all.

Community land ownership is against capitalism based on individual ownership.

And the land rights movement has another problem within which is political divisiveness.

With fierce resistance from the Ministry their community land reform plans cannot begin.

Thus, if a minister does not take bribes the bureaucrats under him would hardly dare do so.

It should seek foreign assistance in mediating with the opposition.

The report is probably going to inspire some controversy of its own.

But the criticism of the ICG is nothing that the government has not heard.

Only an election can hopefully put an end to this important disagreement.

It is not likely that the 2010 drought in Thailand has been caused by deforestation as reported (Army says dry spell due to deforestation, Bangkok Post, June 30, 2010). Thailand has a long history of droughts that come in cycles normally synchronized with the El Nino phenomenon. It is part of a well established weather pattern in this part of the world. These droughts are caused by insufficient rainfall. It is not possible for deforestation to affect rainfall. It may be true that deforestation worsens the effects of droughts and floods but it does not cause droughts just as it does not cause floods.

Cha-am Jamal, Thailand


The body of Tdaaki Okada, 60, was found dead yesterday.

To the average Thai trying to grasp the enormity of the trade, this is an almost impossible amount of illicit drugs to comprehend. Yet, by their own estimates, it is only about 10 per cent of drugs on the street in Thailand.

Too late, tens of thousands have sought help to kick their habits.

The revelation must be a matter of national concern.

Counterparts had a name for the suspected mastermind: Abudila Romli.

The gang leaders never have said what they want.

The country only has Thai as its official language.

English is still considered the most influential language for international communication.

Lumped together to study reform, the four-person group begs a question: what reform will they seek?

Dean Yubol never has worked in the media.

The goal of national reconciliation is worthy but is merely a rhetorical cliche without imaginative action.

Mr Abhisit has picked a ponderous investigator to head the May 19 inquiry.

These prominent and respected personalities represent the cream of the nation.

No longer is it an attempt to seek national unity across all Thai society.

A major part of the plan is a report on the violence of April and May. Instead it seems that the commission will not complete its work within six months.

This is not to say that Thaicom is also embroiled in quite a few legal disputes.

Doubtless the satellite issue is complicated.

Muttering the old magic words “national security” and repeating them over and over is no longer reason enough to convince the public .

The government could end up legalizing all the still undecided cases concerning Thaicom.

His government representatives for this issue should have had a ready made explanation detailing the cost and benefit analysis of all available options regarding this issue including the no action one in which the government need not do anything about Thaicom.

 

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It is reported that global warming is melting the glaciers in the Tibetan plateau and that this process will cause 1/3 of these glaciers to disappear in 10 years (Global warming spells doom for Asia’s rivers, Bangkok Post, June 16, 2010). The article claims that declining water flow in the Yellow and Yangtze rivers, and in particular, the severe decline in Mekong waters in Southeast Asia downstream of China, are due to the loss of glacial mass caused by global warming and that these changes have doomed 1.3 billion people in Asia to death by global warming. No explanation is offered for why an increase in the melt rate of source glaciers decreases water flow in the rivers they feed instead of increasing it.

This story first surfaced in mid 2004 with a warning of “ecological catastrophe” from Tibet’s glaciers that have been melting for the last 40 years as a consequence of climate change and that would continue to melt at a rate of 7% per year and reduce water flow in the rivers fed by the glaciers. As to why an increase in the melt rate does not increase the flow rate in the rivers, it was proposed that global warming was again to blame because it was causing all that excess melt water to evaporate.

All of these conclusions were derived from the discovery of a number of ice islands that were assumed to have separated from their glaciers. It was predicted that without human intervention in the form of emission reductions 64% of the Tibetan glaciers would be gone by the year 2050 and all of it would vanish by the year 2100. The year 2100 plays a magical role in global warming theory as some kind of end time when the full wrath of every aspect of climate change doom will be realized.

Later the same year in 2004, a different story was floated. It said that a visit to the Zepu glacier in Tibet at an elevation of 11,500 feet showed a torrent of melt water gushing out at an alarming rate and all that excess water was forming the headwaters of a river downstream at a much higher elevation due to global warming. Their data showed that 30 years prior to that date, Zepu was 100 yards thicker. They concluded that what is happening to Zepu is happening to all the glaciers in Tibet and what is happening in Tibet is happening globally. Glaciers are melting all over the world due to global warming with the possible exception of Scandinavia.

The story changed again in 2006 when it was announced with a great sense of alarm that global warming was causing sandstorms in Beijing by way of melting glaciers and drought. This version of the story came in the aftermath of the unusually large sandstorm event in Beijing in April 2006 that captivated TV audiences and made headlines around the world; but the effort to sell global warming on the back of this tragedy was ineffective as the expansion of the Gobi desert is historical and a well understood phenomenon linked to over-grazing and other land use issues and not due to melting glaciers.

However, the story that the Tibetan glaciers were melting and threatening water supplies to a billion people continued to re-appear in 2007 and 2008 but went on a hiatus in 2009 when excessive amounts of black soot deposits were found in core samples of Tibetan glaciers implying that accelerated melting if any was more likely due to soot than to global warming.

Yet another deterrent to hyping global warming with Tibetan glaciers came in early 2010 when it was found that the Tibetan glaciers were unique in that they never got very big but varied in size within a range that was not very large with their temperature sensitivity not very significant even going as far back as the last ice age.

Also of note is that there is no evidence that water flow in the Yellow, the Yangtze, or the Mekong is declining in the river as a whole. The only evidence presented is that water flow in the Mekong in Laos and Thailand – downstream of China – has declined. In fact it has, but that could not have been caused by a decline in the flow of its headwaters for that would have affected flow in the entire length of the river and not just in a section thousands of miles downstream.

The loss of water in the lower Mekong has received a lot of attention in Southeast Asia and it has been a contentious water sharing issue with China which has built a number of dams upstream but it is not a glacial headwaters issue, nor a global warming issue. No one here would take it seriously that the water problem in the Southeast Asian section of the Mekong would be alleviated by lowering carbon dioxide emissions.

Consider also that the Mekong is fed mostly by monsoon rains with a water flow that is highly seasonal. Its flow during the monsoon is 30 times its flow during the dry season. Therefore if there were a climate related decrease in the total amount of water it carries it would have to do with the monsoons and not with glaciers. Coincidentally, climate scientists had made the same error in 2007 when they had said that the Ganges river – which receives less than 10% of its water from glacial melt – would dry up because of melting glaciers.

So it is curious to find them attempting to revive the Tibetan glacier story yet again in the light of these data and in the heels of their humiliating retraction of similar false alarms about Himalayan glaciers. It is likely that real evidence of global warming catastrophe is hard to come by these days and there is a certain degree of desperation in the global warming camp to keep the issue alive in the media.

 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Bajracharya, Samjwal Ratna, Pradeep Kumar Mool, and Basanta Raj Shrestha. “Global climate change and melting of Himalayan glaciers.” Melting glaciers and rising sea levels: Impacts and implications (2008): 28-46. Since industrialization, human activities have significantly altered the atmospheric composition, leading to climate change of an unprecedented character. The global mean temperature is expected to increase between 1.4 to 5.8ºC over the next hundred years. The consequences of this change in global climate are already being witnessed in the Himalayan glaciers and glacial lakes. The Himalayan glaciers are retreating at rates ranging from 10 to 60 metres per year and many small glaciers (<0.2 sq km) have already disappeared. Vertical shift of glaciers as great as 100m have been recorded during the last fifty years. With the result of retreating glaciers, the lakes are growing in number and size as well in the Himalaya. A remarkable example is Lake Imja Tsho in the Everest region; while this lake was virtually nonexistent in 1960, now it covers nearly 1 sq km in area. Similar observations were made in the Pho Chu basin of the Bhutan Himalaya, where the change in size of some glacial lakes has been as high as 800 per cent over the past 40 years. At present, several supraglacial ponds on the Thorthormi glacier are growing rapidly and consequently merging to form a larger lake. These lakes pose a threat of glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF), and GLOFs are often catastrophic on life and property of the mountain people living downstream. At least thirty-two GLOF events recorded in Himalaya that resulted in heavy loss of human lives and their property,
    destruction of infrastructure besides damages to agriculture land and forests. The global warming in the coming decades will amplify the GLOF events with the accelerating retreat of glaciers and formation of many potentially dangerous glacial lakes. Monitoring of glaciers and glacial lakes are utmost important to understand the status of the lake and need to prioritized for the installation of early warning systems and mitigation measures before planning the mountain infrastructure for the sustainable development. Regional cooperation is also required for knowledge management on GLOF issues due to trans-boundary nature of GLOF phenomena.
  2. Raina, Vijay Kumar. “Himalayan glaciers: a state-of-art review of glacial studies, glacial retreat and climate change.” Himalayan glaciers: a state-of-art review of glacial studies, glacial retreat and climate change. (2009).   The aim of this series is to encourage informed science-based discussion and debate on critical environmental issues. Each of these papers will provide an expert perspective, backed by rigorous evidence, on important issues related to the environment. In some ways, a paper on the Himalayan Glaciers is a befitting way to launch this working paper series, as it is an issue on which there is considerable academic and popular limelight, with a number of varying points of view. Study of the phenomenon of glaciation and glacier dynamics in the Himalayas has, in recent years, attained significant attention, on account of the general belief that global warming and climate change is leading to fast degeneration of glaciers in the Himalayas. It is argued that this would, in the long run, not only have an adverse effect on the environment, climate and the water resources but also on other concerned and connected activities. This paper provides a summary of the literature, as well as some fresh analysis of the issue. An interesting point made in this paper is that while glaciers are the best barometers known to assess past climate, the same may not be true for glacier fluctuations being an accurate guide of future climatic changes.
  3. Immerzeel, Walter W., Ludovicus PH Van Beek, and Marc FP Bierkens. “Climate change will affect the Asian water towers.” Science 328.5984 (2010): 1382-1385.  More than 1.4 billion people depend on water from the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Yangtze, and Yellow rivers. Upstream snow and ice reserves of these basins, important in sustaining seasonal water availability, are likely to be affected substantially by climate change, but to what extent is yet unclear. Here, we show that meltwater is extremely important in the Indus basin and important for the Brahmaputra basin, but plays only a modest role for the Ganges, Yangtze, and Yellow rivers. A huge difference also exists between basins in the extent to which climate change is predicted to affect water availability and food security. The Brahmaputra and Indus basins are most susceptible to reductions of flow, threatening the food security of an estimated 60 million people.
  4. Scherler, Dirk, Bodo Bookhagen, and Manfred R. Strecker. “Spatially variable response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change affected by debris cover.” Nature geoscience 4.3 (2011): 156Controversy about the current state and future evolution of Himalayan glaciers has been stirred up by erroneous statements in the fourth report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change1,2. Variable retreat rates3,4,5,6 and a paucity of glacial mass-balance data7,8 make it difficult to develop a coherent picture of regional climate-change impacts in the region. Here, we report remotely-sensed frontal changes and surface velocities from glaciers in the greater Himalaya between 2000 and 2008 that provide evidence for strong spatial variations in glacier behaviour which are linked to topography and climate. More than 65% of the monsoon-influenced glaciers that we observed are retreating, but heavily debris-covered glaciers with stagnant low-gradient terminus regions typically have stable fronts. Debris-covered glaciers are common in the rugged central Himalaya, but they are almost absent in subdued landscapes on the Tibetan Plateau, where retreat rates are higher. In contrast, more than 50% of observed glaciers in the westerlies-influenced Karakoram region in the northwestern Himalaya are advancing or stable. Our study shows that there is no uniform response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change and highlights the importance of debris cover for understanding glacier retreat, an effect that has so far been neglected in predictions of future water availability9,10 or global sea level11.
  5. Shrestha, Arun B., and Raju Aryal. “Climate change in Nepal and its impact on Himalayan glaciers.” Regional Environmental Change 11.1 (2011): 65-77.  Climate change can be particularly hard-hitting for small underdeveloped countries, relying heavily on natural resources for the economy and livelihoods. Nepal is one among these countries, being landlocked, with diverse physiographical characteristics within a relatively small territory and with rugged terrain. Poverty is widespread and the capacity of people and the country to cope with climate change impact is low. The country is dominated by the Asian monsoon system. The main occupation is agriculture, largely based on rain-fed farming practices. Tourism based on high altitude adventures is one of the major sources of income for the country. Nepal has a large hydropower potential. While only 0.75% of the theoretical hydropower potential has been tapped, Nepal can greatly benefit from this natural resource in the future. Climate change can adversely impact upon water resources and other sectors of Nepal. The source of water is mainly summer monsoon precipitation and the melting of the large reserve of snow and glaciers in the Himalayan highlands. Observations show clear evidences of significant warming. The average trend in the country is 0.06°C per year. The warming rates are progressively higher for high elevation locations. The warming climate has resulted in rapid shrinking of majority of glaciers in Nepal. This paper presents state-of-knowledge on the glacial dynamics in the country based on studies conducted in the past in Shorong, Khumbu, Langtang, Dhaulagiri and Kanchenjunga regions of Nepal. We present recent trends in river flow and an overview of studies on expected changes in the hydrological regime due to climate change. Formation, growth and likely outburst of glacial lake are phenomena directly related to climate change and deglaciation. This paper provides a synopsis of past glacial lake outburst floods impacting Nepal. Further, likely impacts of climate change on other sectors such as agriculture, biodiversity, human health and livelihoods are discussed.
  6. Bolch, Tobias, et al. The state and fate of Himalayan glaciers. Science 336.6079 (2012): 310-314.  Himalayan glaciers are a focus of public and scientific debate. Prevailing uncertainties are of major concern because some projections of their future have serious implications for water resources. Most Himalayan glaciers are losing mass at rates similar to glaciers elsewhere, except for emerging indications of stability or mass gain in the Karakoram. A poor understanding of the processes affecting them, combined with the diversity of climatic conditions and the extremes of topographical relief within the region, makes projections speculative. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that dramatic changes in total runoff will occur soon, although continuing shrinkage outside the Karakoram will increase the seasonality of runoff, affect irrigation and hydropower, and alter hazards.

  1. Reference: Cry beloved country, Bangkok Post, June 10, 2010: Did we grow up in the best of times and have we subsequently squandered the nation’s resources and stolen our children’s future (Cry beloved country, Bangkok Post, June 10, 2010)?
  2. In the 2nd War, after the Japanese invasion of Thailand, Thailand and Japan signed a military alliance that essentially overrode Thailand’s stated neutrality and placed Thailand squarely in the axis. When the allies won, Thailand was a defeated nation with its military alliance with Japan having backfired.
  3. Postwar Thailand then called Siam, began with the humiliation of defeat and being forced to return territory to the colonial powers. King Mahidol was killed in a mystery assassination that shook the nation, embroiled the prime minister, and created chaos in government.
  4. It was amid this chaos that the army seized power and brought back a corrupt former prime minister to head  a new government. Political opposition was ruthlessly suppressed. Extra judicial killings were rampant and unchecked.
  5. Successive counter-coup attempts split the armed forces with the navy at war with the army. All of the counter coup attempts were brutally suppressed and the winners went on a vindictive rampage against the navy. Thereafter there was a musical chair of constitutions. Protests by civil society was savagely crushed.
  6. When their puppet government stopped taking orders the army took over in a bloodless coup and ran the country with an iron hand. In spite of it a communist insurgency and a peasant uprising took hold and the country descended into anarchy. Student activists took to the streets to support the peasants and to protest against corruption in government.
  7. The army responded with yet another army-managed constitution and elected government but opposition to government corruption was by now unyielding; and once again the army was forced to carry out a coup against itself and abrogate its own constitution and dissolve its own government.
  8. During this period the citizens lived in constant fear of its government, the insurgents, of war with Vietnam, and of annihilation by nuclear war. Those were not the best of times and even the horror of the war with the red shirts and the burning of department stores in Bangkok would not make any Thai wish for a return to those times.
  9. Since those days, the Vietnam war and American aid and investment in Thailand created a modern transportation and industrial infrastructure, diversified the economy, and brought Thailand out from a third world Asian backwater into a modern global economy. What we leave for our children today is a glorious future compared with what our parents left for us back then.

Cha-am Jamal, Thailand