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Nation Of 250 Million Wants To Move Its Capital Because It's Sinking Into The Sea

Just saying the words "climate change" is pretty much a sure-fire way to start an argument online and even potentially ruin Thanksgiving for the entire family. But it's here, it's real, and it's a challenge unlike anything we've ever seen before.

How some nations are approaching the challenge is absolutely fascinating — as much as it is terrifying, as well. Just look at what's happening in one of the world's largest cities, that also happens to be one of the most fragile.

Indonesia's capital city of Jakarta is home to 10 million people — when you add in the sprawl, Greater Jakarta is close to 30 million — and it's in danger of disappearing.

Almost half the city is already below sea level, which isn't unheard of. Cities like New Orleans and Amsterdam are also below sea level, and also support large populations — just not on the scale of Jakarta.

And they're also not sinking as quickly as Indonesia's capital.

Jakarta loses as much as 25 cm (almost 10 inches) in elevation each year and has sunk 2.5 meters (8 feet) in the past decade.

Reddit | mxxsha

It's sinking so fast that experts predict 95% of North Jakarta will be completely submerged by 2050.

Some buildings in the area have already been abandoned, and sidewalks in parts of the city are known to shift due to the waterlogged soil below.

Flooding is an annual tradition in Jakarta, coming with the monsoon rains.

Reddit | simsalabeam

In 2013, some areas were more than six feet underwater after the monsoon rains came, and in 2015, the city was hit by five major floods. It only gets worse with every inch the city sinks.

Obviously, there are a few factors ganging up to bring Jakarta down so quickly.

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For one thing, the city was originally built on swampy land, with 13 rivers crisscrossing it. For another, there's the city's thirst for groundwater — 10 million people rely on the aquifer below the city for drinking and bathing.

The city just can't get water from anywhere else, and so the land below is slowly deflating as more and more water gets extracted.

What's more, the local utilities don't even have the capacity to supply the entire city with clean water.

Instagram | @adyarakasantoso

So there are few regulations on landlords or industries regarding pumping their own groundwater. Shopping malls and apartment towers often just go for it and use as much as they think they need.

Add to that the rising sea levels — local fishermen say the tide has been getting higher every year — and that's a recipe for an absolute calamity.

Authorities in Jakarta have come up with a couple of ambitious ideas to combat the city's sinking feeling.

Instagram | @theresiaaryani

The big one is a plan to build a gigantic, 20 mile long sea wall across Jakarta Bay.

Behind that sea wall, the idea is to reclaim some land from the sea and create a series of 17 small islands in the shape of the Great Garuda, a mythical bird that is Indonesia's national symbol. That reclaimed land will be developed to help pay for the $40 billion project.

However, at the same time, many are conceding that Jakarta just might not be the best place for the government to continue doing its business.

Reddit | OGLothar

Between the sinking and a stubborn traffic problem — a 2016 survey ranked Jakarta as having the worst traffic congestion in the world — Indonesia's president, Joko Widodo, seems determined to relocate the country's capital.

However, previous governments going back to 1957 have floated the idea of moving the capital as well.

The difference now, of course, is that there's a sense of urgency about it.

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As many have pointed out, moving the capital won't solve Jakarta's issues, and 2050 is coming quickly. But President Widodo also noted that other nations, such as Australia, Brazil, and South Korea, have successfully moved their capitals.

Regardless, whatever decision they make will have to come soon.

h/t BBC, The Guardian

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