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Project August 14, 2012

Thailand's Trash: Is There Room For Sustainability?

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Media file: Pollution9.JPG
A haze of smog envelops Bangkok on a hot mid-afternoon in June. Image by Adam Janofsky. Thailand, 2012.
In the 1930s it was called the "Venice of the East." Hundreds of canals used to cut through Bangkok at a time when cars were a rarity and boats were the norm. But as Thailand started to modernize, the canals were filled with dirt and paved with asphalt. The forests surrounding the city were cut down to make way for high rise buildings and extensive slums. Now one of the largest cities in the world, Bangkok is believed to have less green space than almost any other major capital.
For rural Thais, the appeal of megacities like Bangkok has always been obvious: higher wages, better jobs, and even flushing toilets. But unrestricted development over the past several decades has left many cities on the verge of being unlivable, due to critical levels of pollution and depletion of natural resources. Whether it's overfishing in the Gulf of Thailand or overcrowding on the streets of Bangkok, sustainability has gone unacknowledged by the Thai government, and its consequences are quickly becoming some of the most pressing issues now facing Thailand.
This project looks into the sustainability and conservation issues in the country, and also examines the policies and laws that have either failed to mitigate pollution or have contributed to the problems in the first place.

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