February 02, 2007

Global Warming, Bangladesh sinking...

They were showing Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth truth on campus. Highly recommended.

Bangladesh, of course, comes up as one of the countries that will be most badly affected by global warming. Given that the country is, on average, only about 10 m above sea level, and large areas on the coast are at sea level, a rise in sea level will obviously lead to incredible devastation and displacement. A well-reported figure is that a 1m increase in sea levels will result in Bangladesh losing about 17.5% of its land area. Not only will land be inundated, but there will be an increase in flooding, erosion, and salt-water intrusion (leading to spoilage of agricultural land). [A quick summary of scare scenarios here at the New Scientist. A good blog-post on Bangladesh and Global Warming by Brudaimonia on the Daily Kos (hat-tip to Rezwanul and 3rd World View for the pointer from his post a week or so ago..UPDATE: I see Rezwanul just posted on global warming again a few minutes ago...) Read an accessible paper, and a useful list of sources, on the impact of global warming on land use here - it's from the Environmental Protection Agency in the US (It's worth mentioning here the Bush administration's long-standing denial of global warming as a problem, and sudden about-face on this issue the last few days. However, it's likely that the about-face has more to do with energy policy and security, which will be a HUGE issue in the next elections than with any actual change of heart about the seriousness of the issue. Real Climate notes:

"First off, there are some curious patterns in the whitehouse.gov search engine. It turns out that it has been blocked from returning most results if the search phrase
includes "global warming" - even if it's from the President himself. For
instance, searching for "issue of global" gives as top result the President's Rose
Garden speech
in June 2001 on Global Climate Change, but searching for "issue
of global warming"
(which of course is the full phrase used) returns
nothing. Hmmm....."

This is a good site to read about climate change issues, btw)]

The problem, I find, when I read about global warming is that it's hard to visualize how the scary scenarios will unfold. True, there will likely be an sharp increase in storms and floods and other sudden catastrophes, but the large impact will take place over an extended period of time, slowly, surely, lethally. But this video makes it all very, very real and very very immediate. It seems that the people of Bhola already have to deal with the encroaching, eroding effects of global warming - apparently in the last decade Bhola has lost nearly 50% of its land to river and sea erosion. Apparently the process will be like the river bhangon process that has been the source of countless tears, countless cries - except it will all be at an unimaginable, unmanageable scale.

And Abdul Alim's songs will continue to give voice to the wounded souls and broken dreams of millions:

Meghna'r koolay ghor bandhilam
Boro asha kore
She ghor amar bhanga gelo
Shorbonasha jhore - Meghnar - shorbonasha jhore!

What are we doing? Our problems are so big, and yet our politics so petty and small!


Malina said...

So glad you posted on this topic. I am baffled by the willing suspension of disbelief on this matter. Both here in the US and in Bangladesh.

Noah said...

hear hear. It's go time. If the US ever expects lesser developed nations or emerging economies to undertake CO2 mitigating efforts, the onus is on the Federal Govt (cough cough EPA) to do something about it. It appears the Democratic majority may actually pass some climate change legislation later in the year--that would be a nice start.
Next step: Elect Al Gore.