The water is coming soon! That’s what I took away from the Rising Tide exhibition by Kadir van Lohuizen in the National Maritime museum in Amsterdam. A very impressive, but at the same time simple portrayal of pictures with short descriptions. It was a strange experience for me. I knew all the basic info displayed there, but at the same time I was hit hard. It suddenly changed from theory to reality. The info next to the pictures of Jakarta helped a lot.
The city of Jakarta (Indonesia) houses 20 million people. If nothing is done, big parts of the city will flood by 2050. The Indonesian government has said they want to move the city. Big question is if the new city will be ready on time.
The exhibition also helped grow another worry in me.
The feeling was recently ignited by something I heard on the radio (again), about people trying to sell their (broken) house in the province of Groningen.
For the non-Dutch readers; in Groningen, the North of the Netherlands, are areas where large fields of natural gas were discovered. For many years this has been harvested and was used to heat our houses and cook our food. On top of that, it was a very profitable export product. However, these fields are under or close to towns. When the pressure dropped the land over it also started to drop. With the result that houses started to crack and slowly fall apart.
These people are left with a house that can hardly be sold and definitely not for the same amount as they once bought it for. It’s obviously not their fault that their house is in this state. The government is showing very little support to people who are stuck in this situation.
A long story to get to the basis of the feeling I was going to describe to you. What I’m now really worried about. I have the feeling that governments around the world are acting like nothing is going on, to make sure that “their” people keep on spending money. For example I’m thinking about people who are pushed to buy a house. Invest loads of money on a pile of bricks placed in a very dangerous location. Half of the Netherlands is located below sea level! That’s also the place where most people live. Yes, they are paying attention to enforce our waterworks, but still, if something goes wrong every person in the lowlands will lose everything they own. Suddenly they are very poor, since all their money was placed in a building that was located in the danger zone.
Is anyone going to compensate them when this happens?
Of course, nobody is forced to buy a house in such a place. But if our government isn’t motivating to create jobs and houses in safe places, why would anybody decide to move to a safe location? I believe that our governments should care for the wellbeing of their people. Having a lot of money and luxury seems now to be the only focus. When are they going to look into the future? When will they make sure their people will still have a good life if the sea levels rise to crazy levels?
This is just the luxurious perspective of somebody in the Netherlands. What about the people in Bangladesh? Their houses are already gone, their farmland is gone. They have no means to get by in life. They’re sitting in the mud, hoping that one day their land will dry and they can start over. If that’s even possible with all the salt that was left behind by the sea.
This leaves me worried. Will the few with loads of money be the ones who come out after such a disaster with even more money, while the commoners are robbed of everything? I hope my fellow commoners will see for themselves what danger they are in and will together force our government to stand up and take action.
Okay, rant is over. I’m curious to hear what you think? Am I being too dramatic, or do I have a fair point? Do you believe that this is the job of our government, or is it each person for themselves?
Check out the exhibition: Exhibition – Rising Tide