Thursday, November 19, 2009

Climate change and Bangladesh

By Jahangir Alam Akash, Climate change is an important issue in the effort for global peace. Average global temperatures and sea levels are changing every day. The whole world is worried about the unnatural changes occurring in global climate. Next month, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, one of the most important conferences this year, will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, from Dec. 7 to Dec. 18. The issue of global climate change that we are facing is more pressing than ever. Climate change is affecting mankind in various ways.

As a Bangalee, I want to share how climate change is affecting the daily life and economy in Bangladesh. Already, the seasons have experienced unusual changes in Bangladesh. Every year, the country faces unexpected rains, dry spells, temperatures and other symptoms of changes in global weather patterns.

Bangladesh is experiencing frequent severe weather patterns, in the form of floods, cyclones, heavy rains, droughts, river erosion and salinity intrusion due to climate change. Bangladesh's vulnerability to climate change lies mainly in its dense population and that a large part of its area consists of low-lying coastal areas and expansive floodplains. At present, Bangladesh has a population of 163 million people. While the country's population has been increasing, on the one hand, its forests are being depleted, on the other.

An increasing world population and harmful industrialization worldwide are the main causes of climate change. The severity of storms, droughts, rainfall, floods and other natural disasters has been increasing in Asian countries, and in Bangladesh in particular, due to climate change. Global warming threatens our agriculture, which is the backbone of Bangladesh. Every year, natural disasters have widespread effects on Bangladesh, touching every corner of the country. Due to limited resources, Bangladesh does not have the capacity to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to mitigate the damage.

Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, is the city most threatened in Asia by climate change. If things continue as they are, in the future, the economy will fail and human life itself will be threatened. At present, there are 10.3 million people living in Dhaka. In 2025, the population will have increased to 20.5 million.

At the same time, every day, Bangladesh is losing ponds, lakes, dams and forestry. National and regional varieties of fish are being lost. Specialists have reported that 54 varieties of fish in Bangladesh have already been lost due to climate change. And forest animals are also being lost. At least 70 percent of people in Bangladesh are living in very poor situations. Many elements of both human society and the environment are sensitive to climate variability and change. Human health, agriculture, natural ecosystems, coastal areas and temperatures are all sensitive to changes in climate.

According to the Water Development Board, there is a total of 11,000 kilometers of embankment that the by Water Development Board developed, of which around 250 kilometers were damaged by water surges during Cyclones Sidr and Aila. The existing embankment at Hatia requires a 4.5-meter height increase to protect against storm surges and sea-level rises due to the effects of climate change. Any future embankments should be designed to be two to four meters higher than the existing ones.

Due to climate change, the weather in Bangladesh has changed. Water levels have fallen, temperatures have risen, and the incidence of floods, dry spells and cyclones have all increased, affecting both people's lifestyle and the crops. At least 30 rivers, including the the Padma, the Gomti and the Teesta, have dried up. And most of the other rivers in Bangladesh are being lost because they are being filled with soil. Parts of northern Bangladesh are becoming desert. Geological and biological changes in the area are threatening normal life.

People all over the world are hoping that a positive, effective outcome, which is so needed, will result from the UN conference on climate change and that the world's leaders will figure out a sustainable solution from their discussions there.

Bangladesh needs technological and economic support to survive the effects of a changing climate. Just as important is the proper handling of any foreign funds Bangladesh may get, since we know that corruption is another large barrier to our prosperity.

Bangladesh is an underdeveloped country in Asia. How will this country continue to exist in the face of the challenge of climate change? That is a major question. Now, we will have to see what help for Bangladesh regarding this challenge of climate change comes from the Copenhagen conference.

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Jahangir Alam Akash-Editor of Euro Bangla


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Jahangir Alam Akash Editor Euro Bangla