My name is Doungjun Roongruang, and I am 31 years old. Growing up in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand’s easternmost province (600 km away from Bangkok), was peaceful and quiet. Back then, my parents ran a small ice delivery business and my father would go to the ice manufacturers every morning to distribute ice orders to various restaurants and kiosks.
Both my parents are diligent working class people. With the profit they make from delivering ice, they were able to support a family of six. Now I work as a Global Environment Facility Team Programme Assistant for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Bangkok. Working for a development organization with environmental programmes has really opened my eyes to the climate change crisis around the world.
Here in Thailand, we cannot predict the weather any more
Normally, the “winter” begins in mid-November, but now it only starts in December or January. The season is now shorter and not as cold as it used to be. You could say that there is no longer “winter” in Thailand!
Meanwhile, the temperature during the summer is increasing every year
It’s really hot and getting hotter! During the last few summers, we have had at least 40 ºC and in 2007, the temperature reached 42-43 ºC. This is definitely more than the temperature I experienced in the summer when I was younger. Even my parents are noticing the changes, and are asking “what is happening to the climate?”
Furthermore, in the last 2 or 3 years, I have noticed that the rainy season in Thailand has become longer, often encroaching into the winter months. The rain is also more intense. This is having an impact on farmers, who are no longer able to predict the weather, and this affects their ability to plant crops and ensure a good harvest. Another climatic change I have experienced over the last 5/6 years is flooding in my home town. During the rainy season, the river that crosses the town rises and spills over. This is happening despite the presence of an upstream dam.
When I was a young boy, in the countryside, fireflies were abundant and I could see them everywhere I looked. But today, it is not the same story in my home town. I can only catch a glimpse of these wonderful insects in mangroves or deep forest areas. I believe that among several causes, climate change may be the main culprit.
What I am doing to save this world is taking photos of places where the environment has been degraded and posting them on public websites. I want to show a different side of the Earth to tell others about this big issue – climate change. The more I take pictures, the more this sends a message to people to make the world a better place.
Most of the photos that I have taken to date are a mixture of unspoiled and degraded areas of Thailand. In this way, I believe that I am able to capture and convey the great value of conservation. My aim is to really instill into the audiences’ mind the valuable natural heritage of Thailand and heighten their awareness of conservation.
Environmental organizations in Thailand are working very hard to save this world from global warming. But it seems people are still not really paying attention to the problem. They are absorbed by their daily life and close their eyes to what is happening. It takes time to encourage and raise people’s awareness. But I do believe that people could do more if media showed more of the problems that the planet is facing. I am hoping that we can get through this crisis together, otherwise there will be no place for us to live in.
Without proper conservational ethics and proper environmental education for the next generations of Thais, I cannot imagine what Thailand will turn out to be like.
Reviewed by: Dr Anond Snidvongs, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
Although it is difficult to use only person perception to indicate whether the mean or extreme ranges of temperature and/or rainfall might have changed, Doungjun’s observations are quite consistent with most projections of climate in Northeast Thailand due to elevated greenhouse gases, i.e., warmer and wetter weather. However some of the changes that he had observed could also be due to local causes such as land use/cover change which could have strong impacts on temperature and rainfall as well.
Snidvongs, A. et al. (2003). Rainfall Patterns for Mainland Southeast Asia under Different Atmospheric CO2 Levels. AIACC Notes 2(2): 5-6. (www.aiaccproject.org/publications_reports/AIACC_Notes_v2n2.pdf)
All articles are subject to scientific review by a member of the Climate Witness Science Advisory Panel.