Behind the relocation of Indonesian capital

  A few years ago, the sinking trend of the Indonesian capital Jakarta was very obvious. Despite warnings from many experts and scholars, the status quo remains the same. Nowadays, in the face of Jakarta, where the sinking is getting worse, the Indonesian government “is unable to return to the sky” and finally announced the move to the capital. On August 26, 2019, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced to the world: Indonesia will relocate to East Kalimantan Province.
  In fact, there are more than just Jakarta cities plagued by sinking problems. As sea levels continue to rise, many cities are facing the threat of sinking, especially coastal cities, which are sinking faster. The current situation in Jakarta is a wake-up call to the world. The sinking of the city is no longer an alarmist, but a direct threat to people’s real life. Researchers say that if left unchecked, much of Jakarta will be completely submerged by 2050. Until then, who will be the next submerged city?
“Abandoned” Jakarta sounds alarm bells for sinking cities

  It stands to reason that owning a luxurious sea-view villa is very enviable, but Sophia Futuna does not think so. Sofia has been living in Jakarta for four years, and her sea view villa not only did not bring her enjoyment, but also caused her a lot of worries. On average, every six months, cracks appeared in the walls and pillars of her house, and seawater poured into her pool several times, causing them to move all their furniture upstairs. At first, maintenance personnel said that the cracks were caused by ground subsidence, and Sophia was dubious, until later she realized that the ground was really sinking.


The constant sinking has brought more natural disasters, especially floods, to the tortured residents along the coast. Some researchers say that if no further measures are taken, 95% of the northern Jakarta area may be flooded by 2050.

  As the largest city in Southeast Asia and the most prosperous city in Indonesia, Jakarta has always been recognized as the leader of Indonesia’s economic development. Here it has gathered a large number of wealth, talents and political elites, and has the largest financial and industrial and commercial institutions in the country. Nevertheless, some people still say: Jakarta’s future is like a burning candle, and sooner or later will usher in darkness. On August 26, 2019, Indonesian President Joko announced to the world that the capital of Indonesia will be relocated from Jakarta to East Kalimantan Province of Borneo. The Jakarta Post reported that the address of Xindu is about 1,400 kilometers from Jakarta. The government plans to start construction between 2020 and 2021, and will gradually move into government agencies around 2024. The relocation plan is expected to cost 466 trillion Indonesian rupees (about 234 billion yuan).

 As soon as the news of the relocation of the capital came out, “Sinking Jakarta” instantly became a hot news word. Although the Indonesian government has listed a lot of reasons for moving the capital, the biggest concern is the sinking of Jakarta. Heli Andreas, a research expert on urban sinking, said: “In the past 10 years, northern Jakarta has sunk 2.5 meters. Now, 40% of Jakarta is below sea level, and some of them are still every year. Sinking at a speed of about 0.25 meters. “By the next century, sea levels in Jakarta will rise by up to 0.9 meters, and most areas may be flooded.
  Jakarta is sinking faster than any large city on the planet, and even surpassing the rate of sea level rise caused by climate change. It is still a human disaster. Overexploitation of groundwater is one of the main reasons. Jakarta’s water supply facilities are extremely backward. Less than half of the citizens have tap water in their homes, and the water resources management department can only meet 40% of the city’s water needs. The rest had no choice but to pump water from deep underground for drinking, bathing and other daily life. Coupled with poor regulation, almost anyone can pump groundwater. Of the 80 buildings in central Jakarta, 56 have their own groundwater pumps, of which 33 are illegal water harvesters. Although the local weather is rainy and the surface rivers are numerous, the damaged groundwater layer is difficult to recover. With 97% of Jakarta’s land covered by concrete and asphalt, it is difficult to seep into the groundwater even if the surface runoff is abundant.


Jakarta is considered to be one of the most dangerous capitals. Amazingly, the local residents seemed to have accepted all this and held their own attitude.

  In addition, Jakarta’s severe pollution and chaotic urban construction are another cause of its sinking. There are a large number of chaotic ports near the coastline, surrounded by high-rise buildings, dirty slums, illegal factories and large shopping malls. Regardless of the risks, high-rise buildings are still under construction, and Eddie Ganefo, chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “As long as someone buys an apartment, development will continue.” A large number of villagers flocked to Jakarta in search of job opportunities, and privately built houses became even more rampant. Various factories also wantonly discharge large amounts of wastewater and chemicals into the waterways, contaminating the drinking water source in Jakarta. Some experts said that as of now, there is only ten years left for Jakarta to stop the sinking. If it is not changed, the sinking will be the ultimate fate of Jakarta.

U.S. cities fall into crisis, Houston, New Orleans are not spared

  As sea levels rise due to climate change, coastal cities around the world are affected. A 2012 Plymouth University study found that a sea level rise of 0.9 to 2.7 meters would have a catastrophic impact on human activity in parts of the world. By the end of this century, global sea levels are expected to rise by two meters, mainly due to global warming and melting glaciers.
  Many researchers have warned that in the next few decades, dozens of major cities around the world may be partially or completely sunk, and thousands of coastal communities will not be able to live. According to the US magazine Business Insider, at present, many cities in the United States are suffering from floods, and the future development trend is not optimistic. By the end of the 21st century, many cities in the United States may be in danger of being flooded.

 Houston, located on the mouth of the Buffalo River and its tributaries, is the largest city in Texas, with a population of about 2 million. It is the largest economic center on the Gulf Coast. But at the same time, it is also one of the fastest sinking cities in the United States. The sinking in Houston has been going on for decades. The more sinking, the more vulnerable it is to disasters. For example, when Hurricane Harvey swept Houston, nearly 140,000 houses in the area were damaged and about 30,000 people were displaced. . According to the U.S. Geological Survey, parts of Houston are still sinking at a rate of about 0.05 meters per year. Even though local officials have made various efforts to this end in the past few decades, they have not changed the status quo.
  Similar to what happened in Jakarta, the uncontrolled exploitation of groundwater is one of the main reasons for its sinking. In addition to personal activities, industrial-scale groundwater extraction, especially oil and gas production, is sinking this vibrant metropolis. Texas lawmakers have enacted bills to establish subsidence and water reserves in counties including Harris, Benderburg, Montgomery, and Galveston. The goal is to reduce ground subsidence by reducing groundwater consumption. However, the development speed in these areas is far beyond the scope of the bill, and groundwater consumption has not been reduced much. “Many locals would rather close their eyes than believe that the ground is sinking, they think it’s an exaggeration. But for the past century, hydrogeologist Gesmarek, who has worked at the US Geological Survey for many years, said: Here, the aquifer here has lost 91 to 122 meters. Even if it switches to surface water, the ground will continue to sink for several years, because it takes time to recover the underground aquifer. ”
  Compared to Houston, another sinking The American city of New Orleans is more affected by natural disasters. New Orleans is located on the Gulf Coast. It is low-lying and extremely passive in the face of floods. In fact, the city has yet to recover from the 2005 hurricane disaster. According to a study by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), New Orleans has seen a significant sinking trend in recent years, with a settlement rate of about 0.05 meters per year. In addition, some areas of the city are already below 4.5 meters above sea level. As such, a large area of ​​the city will be flooded by 2100. Catherine Kramer, a climate research expert, said: “These global cities look powerful and stable, but they are just mirages. In the future, they will face the rising ocean.”
Excessive exploitation of groundwater, unplanned urban construction, and destruction of the ecological environment … are the characteristics of almost all sinking cities, which also directly reveals the negative impact of human activities on the world.


Finding solutions for an imminent war

  The London-based charity, the Christian Mutual Aid Society, has published a list of the sunkest cities with the highest risks. However, some scholars pointed out that this list only highlights a single city, and to some extent disperses people’s understanding of the entire “sinking city” problem: there are about thousands of coastal cities and thousands of communities around the world. Vulnerable to sea level rise.
  In terms of urban construction, there is always a contradiction between immediate needs and long-term planning, but in any case, seeking solutions is the only way out for these cities. In Jakarta, the Indonesian government has adopted a series of countermeasures, including the construction of clean and reliable tap water pipelines, clearing water channels, strengthening supervision of factory discharges, and demolition of illegal buildings. Among them, the most “ambitive” are the construction of “sea blocking walls”. As early as 2014, the Indonesian government and the Dutch government jointly launched a project called “National Capital Comprehensive Coastal Development”, and the “Sea Blocking Wall” was a key part of it. Today, the tall and magnificent “sea blocking wall” stands like a black cliff in the Jakarta Bay. According to the project planning, a second “sea blocking wall” will be built in the future. By then, the entire Jakarta Bay will be completely closed.
These seemingly prosperous coastal cities are in fact threatened by sinking. The problem of urban sinking is also gradually attracting more and more attention. At the same time, these cities are actively seeking solutions to make “sustainability” a priority for future development.
  The original purpose of the “sea blocking wall” was to block rising seawater, but many people expressed doubts and even fierce opposition. Opponents say that the “sea wall” cannot solve the problem at its source, it will only sink slowly like Jakarta. At the current sinking rate, it will be swallowed up by the sea in 2030. In addition, they are deeply skeptical of the quality of the “wall”. For example, in a section along the coast, there is no “tall sea blocking wall”, but only a low and broken concrete barrier. If there is a gap in this concrete wall, the seawater of the Java Sea will drive straight in. From here to the city center six kilometers away, the entire Jakarta is flooded with seawater.
  In addition to the “sea blocking wall”, the local government also hopes to build artificial islands. Authorities are expected to spend tens of billions of dollars to build artificial lagoons and 17 man-made islands to reduce urban pressure and water levels. Lagos has the same intentions as Jakarta. Lagos, Nigeria’s port city, is the most populous city on the African continent, and is also suffering from sinking. They plan to build an artificial island protected by a large seawall, which can not only cope with sinking, but also become a potential economic benefit. However, Catherine Kramer believes that artificial islands are only a means of slowing down whether it is Jakarta or Lagos; or worse, they will deepen this negative effect and become another brand-new “money tree”.
  Climatologist Adhasner Suberhluwakan and many colleagues believe that the best way to solve the sinking problem is not to build a magnificent “wall” but to restore Jakarta’s original ecological environment and make those natural The “reservoir” is back to life. Ilvan Prengan, hired as a climate change consultant in Jakarta, believes that in addition to restoring ecology, Jakarta can emulate Tokyo from the last century. Decades ago, Tokyo, Japan was experiencing severe ground subsidence. In response to this, the government immediately restricted the exploitation of groundwater, stipulated that enterprises could only use reclaimed water, and then adopted a method of artificially replenishing deep water. Although the cost was expensive, the effect was very significant. Plengan added: “We must face the challenges of natural and human disasters and clean up our mess. If you let it go, you will soon see that people are on the streets for fewer and fewer resources. Hit it. “