Climate Change: Bangladesh

For many of us in the industrialised countries climate change is a concern of the future, leaving the least developed countries to bear the brunt of it.

Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world; it lies between the Himalayas in the north and the Bay of Bengal to the south making it prone to climate change. Almost 80% live in rural areas; agriculture is the largest producing sector in the economy with more than 45% of the labour force employed in it. With its high population density and the occurrence of extreme climate events, poverty-stricken Bangladesh is no stranger to natural disasters. The biggest and the most frequent natural disasters in Bangladesh are caused by flooding which has huge "economic and human loss". Infrastructure is underdeveloped and extreme flooding makes it difficult to build modern transportation and communication networks.

Bangladesh has already witnessed extreme weather events and sea levels rising, which will only continue to magnify. "Melting glaciers in the Himalayas are already causing sea levels to rise, and scientists say Bangladesh may lose up to 20 percent of its land by 2030 as a result of flooding". Severe flooding may be of concern if the melting glaciers disrupt the three rivers in Bangladesh - the Jamuna-Brahmaputra, the Padma and the Meghna. The Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy Action Plan published in 2009 predicts that 6-8 million people will be permanently displaced by 2050.

So how much does Bangladesh actually contributes to global warming?

Bangladesh contributes 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, nothing compared to China and the US, who are the world's largest contributors to carbon dioxide emissions. A fact I'm sure is nothing new.

"The bitter irony is that many of the places which may suffer the worse effects are places contributing the least to climate change causes". It does not seem fair that one part of the world suffers, whilst the other part is oblivious to the sufferings.

Who is to blame for this injustice?

Generally, climate change was due to natural causes however; today it is evident that climate changes have been sped up by man's activities.

"There is very strong evidence that people are changing the climate with actions that create emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. In the UK, 40 per cent of CO2 emissions are caused by individuals, mostly from energy used in the home, driving and air travel". Clearly, we are more oblivious to climate change than those who are directly affected by it. For us it is a threat of the future therefore, we take little consideration of the usage of greenhouse gases.

The future of Bangladesh

As Bangladesh has little power to prevent climate change, they have instead turned their focus on solutions. One solution is boats, according to Abul Hasanat Mohammed Rezwan, who is an architect and has established a charity organisation in Bangladesh - Shidhulai Swanirvar Songstha states "for Bangladesh, boats are the future".

Trying to fight global warming for the west means cutting down on air conditioning usage. But for Bangladesh it means "modern-day versions of Noah's ark" will be used for accommodation and transport. However, living in boats does not solve the problem at hand, "in some ways is a band-aid to the larger problem". Long term solution is needed but, how effective it will be is anyone's guess.

Living in an industrialised nation we tend to use up excess energy not realising our actions have consequences for the unseen, unheard voices. The gap between the rich and poor is wider than ever, as the gap grows the demise of the poor becomes evident. Could it be that the developed nations are killing the poor?

Images from UK Department for International Development on flickr.