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Just four pupils left: how the sea rose up on a Thai village

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From the corridor of Khun Samut school, it’s clear how far inwards the sea has crept. In the distance, beyond the still waters of neighbouring shrimp farms, sticks can be seen poking out of the blue. They were once electricity poles, powering the parts of the village that have since been submerged in the Bay of Bangkok.

Over recent decades, Ban Khun Samut Chin, a coastal village in Thailand’s Samut Prakan province, about 10km from the outskirts of Bangkok, has been slowly swallowed by the sea. The school, which is elevated on concrete stilts, has already been forced to retreat twice. Families have repeatedly moved their homes. Many have left altogether after finding work elsewhere. The population is getting smaller and smaller.

It started slowly but is surely picking up speed: the ocean, long considered so big it couldn’t be affected by humanity, is creeping toward us. As the water warms and the ice sheets melt, sea level has risen more than half a foot in the last century – and even if we stopped producing greenhouse gases today, a very unlikely scenario, it will only keep…

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