Mekong Eye

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New Climate Change Fears, Old Mekong Problems

The evidence continues to pile up on the river’s bleak future, but development and management practices continue to ignore the facts.

Jakub Halun, Wikimedia commons

By Luke Hunt

Phnom Penh, March 23, 2018

The Diplomat

The Mekong River, one of the world’s longest and resource-rich rivers, deserves international attention and recognition as a frontier with governments and developers — who see the river an industrial production tool — on one side and the people who live along its vast waterways and backed by environmentalists on the other.

The future of the Mekong will be underpinned by climate change. This was highlighted by the drought of 2015 and 2016 when China appeared to be playing the hero and announced it would release water from its upstream dams to alleviate water shortages in the Mekong Delta.

Of course, that may not have been necessary in the first place had the dams not been built and the water withheld upstream. But dams in China and neighboring Southeast Asian states like Laos, depleted fish stocks, and a changing climate are also undermining the river’s future.

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