Dhaka, Bangladesh
Combat effects of climate change

Editorial

Combat effects of climate change

The prognosis for the impact of climate change in Bangladesh seems to be ominous. The effect of climate change is obvious in some places in Bangladesh. The country is experiencing newer types of natural disasters owing to adverse impacts of climate change. The time of the arrival of rainy and winter seasons has changed causing early floods and river erosion in the country. The death toll from thunderstorms has climbed annually. The number of natural disaster-prone districts has increased to 38 now from previous15 plus. Floods, droughts, cyclones, tides and hill slides etc. are causing deaths and extensive damage to property. The country is caught frequently unawares by cataclysm out of season. We are already beginning to suffer from the sweltering heat of the sizzling days because of the global warming. What we worry about is that Bangladesh sits at the head of the Bay of Bengal. About one-quarter of Bangladesh is less than seven feet above sea level and two-thirds are less than 15 feet above sea level. A large number of people live along the coastal areas where alluvial delta soil provides some of the best fertile farmland in the country. Sea surface temperatures in the shallow Bay have significantly increased by now, which according to scientists, have caused Bangladesh to suffer some of the fastest recorded sea-level rises in the world. Melting of glaciers and snowpack in the Himalayas swell the rivers that flow into Bangladesh from Tibet, Nepal and India. India's water policy is also responsible for disasters in Bangladesh. India diverts a large quantity of water for irrigation during the dry season and releases most water during the monsoon season which exacerbates flooding in rivers that flow into Bangladesh. A three-foot rise in the sea level will, according to scientists, submerge almost 20 per cent of the entire country, particularly coastal belts, and displace more than 30 million people. Nevertheless, conversion of mangrove forest for agricultural production and shrimp farming continues unabated. Further loss of mangrove habitat, especially in the Sundarbans means that Bangladesh will lose one of its last natural defences against climate change-induced cyclones or storms. Government should, therefore, take up extensive afforestation programme including planting trees on chars in an effort to create islands that are more durable to combat climate change effects. And finally, climate-change-calamity demands a response from the international community. Affluent countries have generated most of the greenhouse gases harmful to Bangladesh. They should, therefore, underwrite, as a moral imperative, the adaptation efforts of Bangladesh to fight effects of climate change.

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