That sinking feeling

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Lots of Asian cities have problems: sinking revenue, sinking currency. And then there’s Bangkok, which is just … sinking.

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The city is sinking as much as two inches a year. And there’s good reason. Bangkok is built on a swamp, and rising sea levels have left the swamp less able to absorb rainy season runoff. But experts lay blame primarily on overuse of groundwater, which is cheap in Bangkok. So cheap that 2.5 million cubic tons is pumped out of the ground per day, about twice what’s considered safe. The ground sags as a result.

Proposals to raise the cost of groundwater, currently only half the cost of tap water, have been ignored in the past by a government unwilling to alienate industry, the biggest groundwater consumer. Under pressure from the local press, a handful of city officials have finally taken up the issue. But they’d better hurry: At the current rate, the Thai capital will be underwater by 2050.


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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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