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The Threat of Garbage

It’s Khmer New Year B.E. 2561 and we should choose a better topic to celebrate here. But I refuse to go to the Kep Beach to see the many visitors from Phnom Penh for a reason: garbage. At this very moment, while all Cambodians celebrate the new year with all happiness and cheh, cheh, cheh… all Cambodian beautiful spots are target of thousands of plastic, empty bottles, polystyrene utensils, all, spread everywhere by the happy Cambodian families celebrating with joy and love the Khmer New Year. Garbage on the pagodas, garbage along the roads, garbage on beaches and garbage on the national parks… practically every single corner of the country where a good road can reach for their vehicles.

Garbage at the waterfall

The beautiful waterfall of Cathien in Ratanakiri… You can walk behind the waterfall, on ancient caves carved by the stream. But even here you find plastic bottles… The people who let them, surely enjoy the beauty of the place, but their mind was too short to understand that they could bring their garbage with them and they preferred to let them here…

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Cambodian climate

The Cambodian climate is the same of the Indochina Peninsula (average temperature is 23ºC to 32ºC). It is a succession of wet and dry dominated by the monsoons.

During the year, it is the climate behaviour:

  • January: 23ºC to 31ºC – Dry.
  • February: 24ºC to 31ºC – Dry.
  • March: 25ºC – 32ºC – Dry
  • April: 25ºC – 33ºC – Humid.
  • May: 26ºC – 32ºC – Humid.
  • June: 26ºC – 31ºC – Humid – Stronger rains
  • July: 25ºC – 30ºC – Humid – Stronger rains
  • August: 25ºC – 30ºC – Humid – Stronger rains
  • September: 25ºC – 30ºC – Humid – Stronger rains
  • October: 24ºC – 30ºC – Humid – Stronger rains
  • November: 24ºC – 31ºC – Dry
  • December: 23ºC – 31ºC – Dry

We can talk of two Cambodian seasons:

  1. Dry and cold: November – March.
  2. Hot and rainy: April – October.

The weather on the Cambodian mountains belongs to the  tropical rainforest – temperate climate altitudinal zone. The highest Cambodian pick is Aural – Cardamom Mountains – with 1,813 meters up the sea level. In any Cambodian mountain temperatures are between 17ºC and 22ºC, but it can drop lower. It changes the type of forest from that of the Cambodian plains, especially of the Mekong basin to that of tropical mountain rain forest.

Water level of the Mekong Delta

Mekong water level through the years

      I found this this water level measurement in a Cham´s village near Can Tho and it was very much interesting to see how the different floods fluctuate along the years. A good topic within this April drought and the sea level increase that is putting in danger the Mekong Delta. Following this local measurement, I built that diagram that traces the flood level since 1994. It is possible to see that every 5 years there is a big flood, being the most important the one of April 2000 (I remember it very well). The 2000 flood reached 2 meters up (you can see in my own photo). Following this graphic, it is possible to predict that we will get a big flood this or next year, since the last big flood was in 2010.

       I found very wise the policy to adapt people to the sea intrusion, as the Vietnamese government is doing. But it needs also other meaningful adaptations such as the recovery of the jungle and the construction of of very expensive and super-technological floodgates (welcome Dutch people). But this fight against sea intrusion must not be seen as something of individual countries. In the case of the Mekong Delta, it does not affect Vietnam alone, but it includes Cambodia, while all countries along the Mekong basin should join together in a race against time.

Cambodia feels the hottest year on record

Cambodia draught and fires April 16 2016

In the middle of the dessert view, the green spots are consumed by uncontrolled fires caused by plastic garbage or vandals willing to clean the land from vegetation.

       Global warming is here and we caused it. On Friday, April 15, the temperature in Phnom Penh reached 40 degrees Celsius at midday, not so much different from Saigon, Bangkok and Vientiane, marking a Southeast Asian drought that is already concerning the economies of the region.   Read More…

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