Sinking Feeling


Malaysia started 2007 with a splash with what turned out for the southern part of Peninsula Malaysia to be the worst floods for a century. Not only were the flood waters extremely high (one village was swept away when waters rose 100 feet above normal) but in some areas it did not recede for almost a month. The financial costs to the Government alone for repairs was over RM1 billion or over USD 350 million. The reason for the floods was cited as extremely heavy rain and unusually high tides which caused the waters in the rivers to back up.

Now it seems that Malaysia will end the year with another set of record breaking floods. While it is too early to see if the damage caused or the duration of the floods are comparable to the January floods or even worse, the total area affected seem to be much bigger. Again extremely high sea levels and high tides are said to be the main contributing factors.

Flooding was an annual event with the onset of the Northeast Monsoon until the 1970’s when the building of bunds, proper drainage and irrigation and other engineering efforts brought the flood waters under control. That is until now. After more than thirty years of controlled flooding due to these engineering measures, why are these record setting floods occurring now? Can all of you say, “Climate Change” and ……..”rising sea levels”?

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