An advisory released this August by the US National Weather Service warned this year’s El Niño could be among the strongest ever recorded, lasting well into the first few months of 2016. Facing an El Niño of this scale, urbanised regions risk exposure to pollution from lit forests and plantations, droughts and overexploitation of freshwater resources, environmental degradation and heat waves.
Aside from the economic crisis, the news in Thailand has been dominated by reports of this year’s drought. Drought is common, but this cycle is particularly bad. The most recent severe drought happened almost 20 years ago during El Niño, the phenomenon caused by shifts in Pacific trade winds and ocean temperatures. El Niño is back this year; its full force is still to be felt and has the potential to be strong and last until next March.