Call on President Obama to help Mekong People Save the Mekong: Climate Change/Development
The Mekong River is home to sixty-five million people. The Tonle Sap Lake, a UN designated World Biosphere Reserve, is the heart of the Mekong and there the magical seasonal flood pulse is critical to the function of the river ecosystem. The flood pulse helps mitigate the flood in monsoon season and supplement the Mekong in dry season. Both the Cambodia Tonle Sap Lake and Vietnam Mekong Delta will die if the flood pulse diminishes.
Unfortunately, the Tonle Sap Lake of Cambodia has been severely damaged by climate change, over-fishing and over-cutting, but the biggest impact of all is the operation of the giant hydropower reservoirs in China, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. They take away 30 billion cubic meters of fresh water annually. In 2015, when El Niño was the worst in history, the reservoirs accumulated water in the monsoon season and continued well for several months into the dry season. Their irresponsible action wrought havoc and death to the Lake and the Delta that El Niño could not do on its own. Last November, the annual Cambodian Water Festival, that attracts millions of people, was cancelled because the water level was too low. The General Nature Fund has designated Tonle Sap the "Threatened Lake of 2016".
The Mekong Delta of Vietnam, too, totally depends on the Mekong and Tonle Sap Lake for survival. Any threat to the Tonle Sap in Cambodia will be more devastating in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam because it needs the water to fight not only drought, but also acid soil and salt water intrusion. Last year, the high water did not come and the entire fishing season was lost. Furthermore, the Mekong Delta has been denied sediments supply trapped at the hydro reservoirs and cannot keep her ground from sinking and coastline receding as sea level rise is invading at the shore.
China particularly keeps their reservoir operations on the Lancang secret and has engaged in a hydro-politics game of “divide and conquer”. China offered energy-hungry Thailand favorable power purchase contracts and cash-hungry Laos and Cambodia low-cost financing, engineering know-how and political shield for Laos to build as many dams as they please.
The sixty-five million Mekong people are victims of China’s hydro-madness and geopolitics. They live in one of the most vulnerable deltas in the world under the threat of climate change, which they did not create. In November 2015, the Mekong people and 10 NGO’s, founded the United Mekong Communities Network submitted an unprecedented petition to their leaders: “Mekong Governments: Listen to the People!” Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears.
You have put forwards the Global Climate Change Initiative for the world that “The US Administration focused adaptation finance on improving the dissemination of information to help identify the greatest vulnerabilities to climate change, creating governance systems that are inclusive, transparent, and responsive to the needs of their constituents, and implementing climate solutions that are locally appropriate and increase resiliency of the world’s most vulnerable populations.”
You have the mandate of US Congress Resolution S.Res.227 to act for the Mekong. You already directed the US Governent to assist them through the Lower Mekong Intitative. Please tell the Mekong People that their voice is not ignored, that you will urge the Mekong Governments: Listen to and Answer their People, protect the Tonle Sap and the Mekong Delta from the Chinese led reckless hydropower reservoir operation and unsustainable development. Your trip will be a historic event of global significance, an opportunity to set the path to save the livelihoods for millions poor Mekong people. They need a champion for their cause and we hope you will be that champion.
Call on President Obama to help Mekong People save the Mekong: Climate Change/Development
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