“Jakarta has a lot of problems,” says my colleague Hannah Beech, The Times’s senior correspondent for Asia, “but its most existential one is that it is sinking in some places by up to a foot a year.”
Climate change is part of the reason: The Java Sea — which surrounds Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital — is rising. But an even bigger factor is that Jakartans, desperate for access to clean water, have dug thousands of illegal wells that effectively deflate the marshes underneath the city. Today, 40 percent of Jakarta lies below sea level, and flooding is increasingly common.
The encroaching sea presents a threat to one of the world’s most densely packed cities, where 10 million people live in an area about half the size of New York City, and another 20 million reside in the surrounding region. To deal with that threat, Indonesia’s popular president — Joko Widodo, in his ninth year in office — has devised an audacious solution: He is moving the country’s capital.
This article was written by David Leonhardt and originally published on www.nytimes.com