That sinking feeling

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Lots of Asian cities have problems: sinking revenue, sinking currency. And then there’s Bangkok, which is just … sinking.

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The city is sinking as much as two inches a year. And there’s good reason. Bangkok is built on a swamp, and rising sea levels have left the swamp less able to absorb rainy season runoff. But experts lay blame primarily on overuse of groundwater, which is cheap in Bangkok. So cheap that 2.5 million cubic tons is pumped out of the ground per day, about twice what’s considered safe. The ground sags as a result.

Proposals to raise the cost of groundwater, currently only half the cost of tap water, have been ignored in the past by a government unwilling to alienate industry, the biggest groundwater consumer. Under pressure from the local press, a handful of city officials have finally taken up the issue. But they’d better hurry: At the current rate, the Thai capital will be underwater by 2050.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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