Global sea-level rise is recognised, but flooding from anthropogenic land subsidence is ignored around northern Manila Bay, Philippines



Land subsidence resulting from excessive extraction of groundwater is particularly acute in East Asian countries. Some Philippine government sectors have begun to recognise that the sea-level rise of one to three millimetres per year due to global warming is a cause of worsening floods around Manila Bay, but are oblivious to, or ignore, the principal reason: excessive groundwater extraction is lowering the land surface by several centimetres to more than a decimetre per year. Such ignorance allows the government to treat flooding as a lesser problem that can be mitigated through large infrastructural projects that are both ineffective and vulnerable to corruption. Money would be better spent on preventing the subsidence by reducing groundwater pumping and moderating population growth and land use, but these approaches are politically and psychologically unacceptable. Even if groundwater use is greatly reduced and enlightened land-use practices are initiated, natural deltaic subsidence and global sea-level rise will continue to aggravate flooding, although at substantially lower rates.