ADAPTATION AT GROUND ZERO
Bangladesh deals with climate change
NEW YORK- Human induced climate change is a concept that is largely accepted within the scientific community. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established that “the balance of evidence suggest a discernible human influence on global climate.” Although the extent to which the global climate has changed is uncertain and still under scientific observation, it is well documented that Bangladesh is highly susceptible to these changes. It has even been referred to as the “ground zero” of global climate change.
Bangladesh is located relatively low; two-thirds of the country is situated just five meters above sea level. As climate change causes waters to continually rise, Bangladesh faces an imminent threat. 45% of Bangladeshis are employed in the agricultural sector, with rice as the most important product. It is estimated that 60% of the country suffers from severe flooding every four to five years. Constant flooding threatens crops, and therefore the entire economy of Bangladesh.
Sea level rise, temperature rise, increased evaporation, and changes in precipitation and cross boundary river flows are just some of the agents of change within Bangladesh. They have caused deviations in natural ecosystem processes including inundation, storm surges, low river flows, salt water intrusion, and river and coastal morphology. Not only does this affect the social and economic systems of the country; it also heeds its overall development.
Some Bangladeshi communities, however, have learned to adapt to the changing climate. To combat the constant threat of flooding, families have created floating gardens to keep their crops from drowning. Jars made of concrete are built around houses to capture and store rain water, as a lack of drinkable water has become more of a reality every day for Bangladeshis.
Communities have also begun changing and taking on entirely new trade methods, such as growing saline-tolerant materials for creating mats and cultivating food sources that are able to thrive in the new saltier waters. As the area continues to be inundated with a tainted water supply, adaptions such as these will inevitably to spread to other work sectors.
Last year the Bangladeshi government became one of the first countries to implement a permanent climate change trust fund in order to protect its citizens’ lives and property from climate change-related damage. Since its application, the government has motioned to expend about $3 million towards climate change adaption and mitigation initiatives. Cooperation between the government and citizens involved will be critical in the success of such a program.
Climate change has become a threat to the social and economic development of Bangladesh, and therefore its people must change accordingly.