Indonesia announced today that Jakarta, the capital city of 10 million souls located on the island of Java, will be relocated because the large metropolis is sinking rapidly into the sea. Jakarta is one of the world’s mega-cities.
Newly elected Indonesian President Joko Widodohas has not named where the massive undertaking will be, but according to Indonesian state television, it is likely to be Borneo, the third largest island on earth (after Greenland and New Guinea). Borneo located southeast of the Malay Peninsula, the northern part of the island in Malaysia, the rest of the island by Indonesia.
Straddling the Equator, Borneo is home to a diverse ecosystem and the remaining tropical forests on the island are one of the few places on earth where healthy rainforests still exist according to the World Wildlife Foundation.
Humanity always bats last, and unfortunately, a drowning megacity will likely take precedence over rainforest reserves even though the island has lost 50% of its forests over three decades. Like all of the world's rainforests, corporate interests such as agriculture, mining, and logging have pillaged the land and life in the jungle.
Though climate change does play a role in the sinking of the city, the main culprit is the extraction of freshwater.
Julia Macfarlane writes:
Indonesia is one of the world’s biggest producers of waste -- creating several million tons of plastic waste each year. After China, Indonesia is the world’s biggest marine polluter, dumping millions of tons of garbage into the sea. Jakarta is also home to the largest uncovered landfill site in all of Southeast Asia.
Despite the monstrous scale of the filth in the Bantar Gebang landfill site, it is still home to thousands of poor families who live amongst the garbage, many of whom salvage among the scraps. Earlier this year environmental campaigner and actor Leonardi di Caprio shared an image on his Instagram of the landfill sight, to highlight the crisis.
One of the main issues contributing to Jakarta’s instability and its sinking levels is the lax regulation that does little to combat the many instances of residents using their own groundwater extraction units, since water from the river is too dangerous to drink. Only 35% of Jakarta’s annual water needs were met by the national water provider -- the remainder comes from private firms and residents digging up their own ground wells. This, among other factors, are the biggest contributors to the city’s increasing flood risk. Despite wells being illegal, there were more than 4,700 counted in 2016 and the number continues to grow.