News / Asia

Scientists say Climate Change, Dams Threaten Mekong Livelihoods

A fisherman casts his net in the Mekong River in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 7, 2012.
A fisherman casts his net in the Mekong River in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 7, 2012.
Daniel Schearf
Scientists meeting in the Thai capital have warned extreme weather caused by climate change will reduce fish stocks and major crops in the Mekong River Basin if countries in Southeast Asia fail to adapt. However, they also warn dam building, much of it for hydropower, is the largest single threat to fisheries that sustain millions of people.
                  
An estimated 60 million fishermen and farmers depend on the Mekong River for its rich nutrients and abundant fish.
 
Scientists say Climate Change, Dams Threaten Mekong Livelihoodsi
X
March 29, 2013 3:54 PM
Scientists meeting in the Thai capital have warned extreme weather caused by climate change will reduce fish stocks and major crops in the Mekong River Basin if countries in Southeast Asia fail to adapt. However, they also warn dam building, much of it for hydropower, is the largest single threat to fisheries that sustain millions of people. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Bangkok.

A new study by a group of scientists said by 2050 climate change could raise temperatures in parts of the Mekong basin twice as fast as the global average.
 
That would intensify extreme weather events, such as flooding, and reduce fish and crop production says study leader Jeremy Carew-Reid. He said, "In Laos alone there are some 700 species that are used by families to sustain their livelihoods. We know so little about them."

While some species will benefit from hotter climates, important crops such as coffee in Vietnam and rice in Thailand could be forced to move.
 
But fish in the Mekong system, the largest inland fishery in the world, cannot relocate so easily and fish farming has already reached its environmentally sustainable capacity.
 
Some 30,000 man-made barriers, such as hydropower dams, compound the effects of climate change, said Carew-Reid.
 
“When you take those in concert with climate change, we're looking at a pretty, a pretty negative scenario for fisheries in the basin,” he said.
 
Scientists at the study's release in Bangkok said dams and other barriers constitute the single largest threat to fish diversity and production.
 
Laos, controversially, is set to build the first of several hydropower dams on the mainstream of the Mekong.
 
Hans Guttman, chief executive officer for the Mekong River Commission, warns the extent of damage from the dams is still unknown.

He said, “How much damage is under intense speculation. And, whether all of the dams will be built according to some of the plans or whether some of them will be built and that will then cause a different level of impact, and how the benefits that are generated will be used to compensate or to deal with some of these impacts, is still very much uncertain.”
 
The U.S. Agency for International Development funded the study as part of its Lower Mekong Initiative.
 
Alfred Nakatsuma, the regional director of USAID's environment office, said, "The governments in general in these regions are very interested in climate change because the welfare of their people is at stake. And, it's better to address these activities now rather than later when they're surely going to be more costly.”
 
But just as economics are driving dam construction, scientists say poverty will make it harder for people to adapt to rising temperatures.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Daikanyama, JPN
March 29, 2013 9:14 PM
I am sure that nothing will happen even if tempreture becomes higher twice as fast as the global average. Do you really think one or two degrees rise of tempreture through over 30 years causes flooding, heavy rains and draught? It is nonsence. Scientists studying climate change should have a common sense before they study differential equations.
In Response

by: CrygDyllyn from: USA
March 30, 2013 5:50 PM
Glad to see that the US is not the only place cursed with fools who cannot read or think.
I could try to inform you, and educate you. But, I have found that deniers are educably handicapped.
And for your info...GW WILL happen. We have passed the point where mankind can stop it.

by: Meme Mine from: Toronto
March 29, 2013 1:21 PM
-Not one single IPCC warning says it "WILL" happen, only "might" happen and "could" happen....-Science will say comet hits are real but science will not say climate change is as real as a comet hit. -Science has agreed it is “real” and “could” cause a climate crisis for last 27 years of research.
-Almost all research was into effects not causes. - Upon settlement of North America these poor little Polar Bears were indigenous to as far south as Minnesota but called the yellow bear (summer coat), but still the same bear.

-Occupywallstreet does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded carbon trading stock markets ruled by corporations and politicians. -Science denied the dangers of their cancer causing chemicals and pesticides for decades. -Science is not a hall of truth and honesty, they are lab coat consultants.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs