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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid