Global warming, floods, tiger and baby

Posted On 24/12/2007

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What is the relation between floods, tiger and baby?

A young mother ask animal trainer in the circus, “Do you think tiger likes the baby?”.

The animal trainer answer,”Yes, madam, they love it, as food”.

That explanation foolishness trying to cross the path of mother nature.
Alas, by the time I writing this blog, there is two incidents of big cats attack in Zoo Negara Malaysia,

Flood : Man made swimming pool
A few state in Malaysia has turn into swamp land. The government claim no wrong doing and blame the natures causing the havoc.

With bad luck, so call “developed area” that soak under 1-2 meters water are natural rain water basin. Thanks to the logging, massive palm oil plantation and land real estate development, there is little margin for the rain water to be absorb before release into the river.

And to make things worst, thanks to the people, Malaysia government attitude over sustainable development are next to nothing. Take Johor state as example, the state now has enter the complete ecology destruction level. Johor government just “forget”, it is the high nature rain falls that allow Johor to pump approximately 391,000 cubic meters water to Singapore.

An Olympic size swimming pool (Length 50m, width 25m, depth 2m) will hold 2,500 cubic meters of water, this mean the water supply to Singapore is equivalent to 156 Olympic swimming pool, everyday.

156 swimming pools
Maps source from courtesy of Google map

Johor state real estate development and massive plantation oil plantation has destroy hundreds thousands acres of rainforest that act as sponge for the heavy rainfall state. When the destruction go beyond the eco system, flood happens. And those are NOT natural disaster, but in fact, a man made swimming pool.

People will argue that state like Johor still have many green, since you will see hundred thousands acres of land gazette to oil palm plantation. Unfortunately, so call green industry are no better than real properties estate that destroy the rain forest.

A nature forest is a nature sponge that absorb many times more rain water than oil palm plantation before release slowly to the river. But when it converted to oil palm plantation, the natural slow rain water release gauge are gone forever.

A oil palm plantation need a drainage system that is exactly the opposite of natural.

  • Oil palm hates water. When convert forest to oil palm estate, the natural high rain water absorber humus soil must be replaced with soil that help drain water,e.g. mix with sands.
  • Drain must be build to help draw excessive water out of the plantation, this is a must for low land oil palm plantation. i.e. Johor and all flood prone area are surrounded by these plantation.
  • Those drain are low quality and wash tons of soil to river even in normal day
  • Heavy use of herbicide to make sure weed doesn’t take up the fertilizer for the oil palm. And without the covering grass, rain water will wash the soil to the drainage system. And this add up the silts volume to the river

Thanks to Malaysia government pro-conglomerate policies. The government and media dare not to say a word about oil palm plantation roles on the flood. Beside blaming the rubbish dump into the drain, the government and media has spare the oil palm plantation responsibilities on the man made swimming pool.

Malaysia flood are calculative issue
In Malaysia, anythings that deal with public utilities and welfare always has 2 way to fix the problem : the practical way and the government way. Just look at example of the traffic system in all Malaysia dense population city; the flood management, urban planning, you basically grasp the idea of “government way” of problem dealing : backlog.

To make things simple, Malaysia government ignore all dependency fluctuation. At the end, the solution end up obsolete by the time government implement it.

Blame the faults clogged drain is one. The “disaster” are indeed calculative.

Let’s look at the river, when the river only able to take X amount of water to the sea per hours, you can’t increase the capacity unless you wide the riverbanks. However, like Malaysia traffics problem, if the volume of water accumulate from all the drainage are greater than the river able to cope, e.g.
River capacity = R
Drainage supplies = D

Sea water pressure = S

if R > D, there will be no flood problem
If D > R , water will spilled and flood happens. And you got many free swimming pool all over the place.

S < R, in order to allow normal flow of water into the sea.

And all this depends on one variable : the river MUST be higher than the sea level. Otherwise, you will see the sea water take a reverse course and flood the river.

Some people might ask, what's wrong by expanding the river bank? Well, the sea level is a variable we must consider. When the river bank expanded, the volume of river water might run LOWER than the sea level, so it is not effective to expand the rivers bank or deepen the river.

That's many river deepen project alone will NEVER work. Because you can't against the force of nature during dry season : without sufficient water, the sea water will take a reverse course. So the solution is to install a flood gate. And multiple flood gates is required to give extra protection should the primary flood gates failed. Now, you know it is extremely costly to install a flood control system.

But that is the conventional way government taking the grabs everyone on the roof solution.

Well, why not tackle the Drainage supplies (D)? If we can timely release the water flushing down to the river, without overflow the river, floods can be prevented for good.

In fact, the country can implement the system overnight instead of spending billions on complex SMART tunnel system that rarely works on wide area. Passing regulation to make individual to take responsibilities to slow down the rate of water flushing to the drainage system , are more effective than a single mega project that you can’t control the variable a huge area.

It might sounds difficult, but unless Malaysia are running on auto-pilot, a tax relief program and regulation (especially to highrise and plantation) can make it an effortless approach to prevent future floods.

Will Malaysia government listen? Well, this didn’t happens until end of year 2007, so don’t hold you breath. I can even take a safe bet with anyone, Johor and more state will create more and more free swimming pool in the future.


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