Thailand Occupies the Eye

It’s always interesting to travel to a place which has been mostly a name and a location on the map, particularly if there are English language newspapers to sweep you into the daily concerns of those living there.

Bangkok is hot enough for us, in the low 90s, with an overcast, and its not even the hot season yet.  That comes up in April — and big problems are in the offing.


Thailand’s energy authorities are scrambling for ideas to prevent a possible power shortage in April – the hottest month every year – as Myanmar is shutting down two gas fields that have supplied one-fourth of the Kingdom’s natural gas demand.

My guess is that a unsubstantial majority of Bangkokese don’t have air conditioning in their homes but that those who do will have the megaphone to make their views known.

It’s not a matter of politics or national retribution but an engineering problem of significant proportions.

Pongsak said the rig in Yanada field experienced destabilisation and needed to be fixed at its base on the seabed before the problem got worse. Therefore, Myanmar had decided that it would shut down the gas-supply system in both Yetagun and Yadana for repairs.

And if that’s not enough to worry the authorities, how about a sewage problem?  And, interesting to me, is that this is on the second page of the paper, not buried away as a cub reporters story.

If there is no effective waste management, Bangkok will be overwhelmed with garbage in 2015 when the integration of the Asean community allows the free movement of workers within member countries.

“With a higher ratio of garbage per head than other capitals, we need to adopt a ‘think new and act new’ approach to manage the problem,” said Assoc Prof Sirinthornthep Taoprayoon, director of the Joint Graduate School of Energy and Environment (JGSEE).

The modern world needs to look at garbage from a new perspective. What was earlier considered a “problem” or that “disgusting thing that should be destroyed quickly”, it is now seen as a valuable resource provided a good management system is adopted right from the start. The number of landfill gas projects across the world, which convert methane gas emitted from decomposing garbage into electricity, rose from 399 in 2005 to 594 in 2012

 And, in a separate article, the writer informs Thais of the need to shift their energy supplies, in good part because of climate change being forced by released carbon.  He knows that garbage in can be energy out.

Biogas digestion offers a good source of renewable energy as it deals with harnessing the methane gas that is released when waste breaks down. This gas can be retrieved from garbage or sewage systems. Biogas digesters are used to process methane gas by having bacteria break down biomass in an anaerobic environment.

One of the first things we did after checking into the hotel was find the nearest park, a nice big one with water features, birds and folks setting up lunches around tables.  However, all is not well, it seems.  That afternoon the paper reported:

Bangkok has one of the lowest percentages of green areas of any major capital in Asia; it’s time residents got new parks to breathe in…

In Asia, on average, urban people enjoy 39 square metres of green space each. Bangkok has 5.7 million permanent residents (probably twice as many unofficially) on 1,569 square kilometres, meaning they have to make do with a mere three square metres each, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Asian Green City Index 2011, commissioned by Siemens. Singapore, with 5 million people squeezed into 715 square kilometres, offers 66 square metres of green space per person.

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