Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to rising sea levels. A New York Times article published today details the consequences there of a warming climate, which include increasingly intense storms and flooding from surges, along with significant land loss and inundation due to overall sea level rise.
The effects of climate change have led to a growing sense of outrage in developing nations, many of which have contributed little to the pollution that is linked to rising temperatures and sea levels but will suffer the most from the consequences.
At a climate conference in Warsaw in November, there was an emotional outpouring from countries that face existential threats, among them Bangladesh, which produces just 0.3 percent of the emissions driving climate change. Some leaders have demanded that rich countries compensate poor countries for polluting the atmosphere. A few have even said that developed countries should open their borders to climate migrants.
“It’s a matter of global justice,” said Atiq Rahman, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies and the nation’s leading climate scientist. “These migrants should have the right to move to the countries from which all these greenhouse gases are coming. Millions should be able to go to the United States.”
The delta that makes up much of Bangladesh’s territory is one of the most densely populated regions of the world. 160 million people live there, on an area one-fifth the size of France and carved up by over 230 rivers and streams. The article details the multiple vulnerabilities that are disproportionately affecting the region’s poorest residents, as well as the inadequate efforts of the government to stave off the worst effects of rising sea levels. But Bangladesh faces a problem that can only have a global solution.
“There is no doubt that preparations within Bangladesh have been utterly inadequate, but any such preparations are bound to fail because the problem is far too big for any single government,” said Tariq A. Karim, Bangladesh’s ambassador to India. “We need a regional and, better yet, a global solution. And if we don’t get one soon, the Bangladeshi people will soon become the world’s problem, because we will not be able to keep them.”