Dr. Le Xuan Thuyen: the worst is still in the future

Dr. Le Xuan Thuyen, VNUHCM-University of Science is a familiar participant in many conferences and seminars with his constructive criticisms on the environment. He published a paper on the prestigious scientific journal Nature, introducing the authors’ analysis of recent trends in changes in saltmarsh surface across the Indian-Pacific region.

Dr. Le Xuan Thuyen (right) using Sonar to investigate the terrain in the area of Filling Dong Nai River Project. Photo: Nld.com.vn

Dr. Le Xuan Thuyen is especially concerned about currently urgent environmental problems of climate change in Vietnam such as landfilling at Dong Nai River, the risk of disintegration in Mekong River Delta (Mekong Delta) …

*Doctor, your research direction is strictly about the environment and climate changes. Why did you choose that direction?

That’s correct. To my knowledge and understanding, I find it quite clear that the risk is very close to the land of Southern Vietnam, which is home to nearly 20 million people. This is where I have been involved by researches from my youth and in the basic research programs of the state since the 1980s. I also learned a lot from this land.

In the spirit of eager to learn, I always expand my scientific cooperation with researchers from many fields, not only in the natural field but also in society and history, and archeology. I always share and learn more knowledge from colleagues in the fields to better understand this land. New knowledge, which is also new dynamics, will help enrich our ideas and open our minds.

* What do you think about climate change and the current environment, especially human-induced changes?

Climate change and the long-term impact of people’s counter-natural involvement are undeniable. But the problem is, whether we fully understand the impact of our actions or not? Maybe not! Because direct effects are easy to see, but there are some unexpected latent threats and especially distant interative processes that will come up sometime and cause what kind of catastrophes, which are what we all are confused. Because the worst is still in the future! Now we can not be sure to know everything about climate change, but we should take action, understand it, so that the community has the opportunity to find a solution to avoid its directly harmful effects.

* On the topic “The vulnerability of Indo-Pacific mangrove forests to sea-level rise”, how long did it take your team to finish the research?

The publication in Nature of the threat to coastal mangrove forests is only a cautionary result with monitoring data from the initial 3 baselines since mid-2010. This issue is still being studied in broader scale. However, with the knowledge of long-term accumulation, we actively took up cooperation with our colleagues from the US Geological Survey. Develop the application of this technology in the conditions of the Mekong Delta and open up neighbouring areas like Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar.

In my opinion, this research topic is worth pursuing investment because of high service meaning, the longer the data and more monitoring points, the more meaningful for the planning of life in the South. Scientifically, it will open up new interdisciplinary research issues, from the fundamental problems to the application of technology. Note, in practice, the problem of subsidence increases the risk of land loss in the deltas was only mentioned in the scenario of climate change and sea level rise in Vietnam, 2016 version of the Ministry of Resources and Environment. While there have been many scientific warnings about this before!

* From that result, do you have any conclusions for saltmarsh areas, tidal areas of Vietnam?

The conclusion is clear that the risk of the Mekong Delta to be sunk in the future. Due to the subsidence, the rise in water level in the plains will be many times higher than the long-range warnings of rising ocean water that we are notified through the media. We are not able to give any recommendations now because it is a big issue and involve many other research results to be organized scientifically.


From this topic, we hope that we will all have a more complete and objective view of what changes in nature around us. For a long time, when it comes to climate change and sea level rise, we always look up to the sky and far away somewhere in the ocean, in the North Pole, but less aware of the closer in our hands, and the under ground we are standing. And from here we will all be able to think of a way to “save ourselves” in the face of disasters due to climate change and sea level rise.

* What is the your concern for the profession?

I live by the sentence: “Knowing is not enough; We must apply. Willing is not enough; We must do ” of Goethe to fulfill my obligations.

* Thank you Sir!

  • Research