Thailand is a case study of climate change in Asia. The country is suffering various environmental effects of global warming, such as the loss of tidal mudflats that contain much of the country’s indigenous species, and their production of greenhouse gases is rising steadily. I don’t think Thailand is unique in its somewhat confused approach to climate change. On the one hand, some agencies of the Thai government have professed concern with environmental issues and signaled that they have the will to take action, but on the other, actions of the government have been criticized as being counterproductive to these ends, such as subsidizing fossil fuel industries and encouraging petroleum consumption. Thailand faces the same problem that most countries do in combating climate change: they want to help, but doing so in effect means economic pain at home, whether it comes in the form of less energy generated, taxes or other burdens on industries and businesses, and limits on economic growth and trade. No country has yet figured out how to balance these issues. Part of the problem is that climate change is a long-term threat, but the efforts to mitigate it mean short-term economic pain. That’s a difficult tradeoff to make in a free market economy, and a politically risky one for government officials to impose by fiat. In this quandary Thailand certainly isn’t alone.
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