Climate change effects coming quicker than expected

Dharitri Sarkar Sabuz

So far, scientists and researchers were estimating that one third of the total land area of Bangladesh may go under water within this century because of sea level rise. A recent research report says that the danger may come even sooner than that. The report published in the prominent Science magazine ‘Nature Communication’ finds that four crore people of Bangladesh will face the danger of saline water by 2050 and at the end of this century the number of affected people will reach to seven crore. 

‘Central Climate’, a climate change research institution has conducted this research and their research has found the effects of sea level rise on the coastal and island countries. Researches Scott K Kulp and Benjamin H Strauss of ‘Climate Central’ had jointly led the research and satellite photographs of US space research organization, NASA had been used in this research. 

The research report gives us an idea about what sort of effects will fall on Bangladesh due to sea level rise because of climate change. As we see the danger is coming closer, we need to conduct more extensive research to identify which type of effects will fall on which areas, which sort of challenges we shall face and how we will mitigate and adapt to the changed scenario.

In September 2018, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations published a report on the seas of the world, in which the estimation of rapid sea level rise had been depicted. This report also estimates that one third of the population of Bangladesh may fall in a perilous situation because of sea level rise.

In global perspective, Bangladesh has almost no contribution in carbon emission but because of the huge carbon emission by some rich countries of the world, Bangladesh is facing dire consequences. This is despite the fact that Bangladesh is taking different initiatives for reducing our carbon emissions. Bangladesh has been taking different infrastructural and non-structural measures to face changed climatic conditions. Bangladesh is always urging the developed nations to reduce their carbon emission to save the globe and to extend help to the nations like Bangladesh in climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives. 

Some of the developed countries of the world are habituated to continue their lavish lifestyles and for meeting their ever-growing needs, the industrial sector in those countries is booming. So they are emitting a lot of greenhouse gases which in turn is speeding up global warming. Because of global warming the snow of North and South Pole is melting rapidly and as a result, water level in the sea is increasing. Experts suspect that a portion of our coastal areas will be inundated by sea water causing heavy damage to our land and agriculture. Saline water will also enter in to our rivers which may cause a devastating situation. 

The industrially developed countries of the world are not reducing their carbon emission according to their commitment. Therefore global warming is accelerating and the height of sea level is rising at an alarming rate. So far, our assumption was that within this century i.e. by the year 2100, the sea level height will increase by 2 meters. But the latest research is showing that the same amount of sea level rise will happen within 2050. The previous researches were showing that 25 crore people of the world will be in a perilous situation because of sea level rise but the new research finds this figure at 64 crore.

About 70 percent of global population lives in 7 countries of the globe. These are Bangladesh, India, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan. One third of the inhabitants of these countries will fall in a precarious situation due to the sea level rise.

The main risk is that the salinity of water in the rivers will be increased. At the same time, number and intensity of floods and cyclones will be increased. Because of salinity increase, the peril of the dwellers of coastal districts will increase. Their life and livelihood will be at risk and for reducing the risk we need augmentation of our preparedness in the agricultural and structural sectors.

Bangladesh is now the seventh most affected country of the world due to extreme weather events or climate change effects. Every year Bangladesh is experiencing disasters like floods, cyclones, storm surges, river erosion etc. which causes displacement of many households. A global study conducted in 2015 by Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) estimates that one out of every seven persons in Bangladesh will experience displacement by 2025.

Extreme climatic events such as floods, flashfloods and drought cause severe losses in agricultural sector. In Bangladesh around 60 percent of population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. Loss of production or reduced production will bring acute sufferings for those. Changing climate conditions also creating communicable and noncommunicable diseases like diarrhea, cholera, hepatitis A, dengue, chikungunya etc. 

Not only Bangladesh and the island countries, the developed countries are also suffering from different climate change related disasters like floods, droughts and cyclones. A flash flood had hit Venice in Italy on 14th November last year. A fire hazard occurred in east coastal area of Australia which was sustaining drought for the last three years. Plague, a rat carried disease had been spreading in China. Scientists are blaming climate change scenario for all these catastrophes. According to the scientists, because of global warming the future generation will face different types of threats including health risks. 

Venice, one of the prominent tourist cities of Italy, was inundated on November 12 because of tidal surge and the city dwellers were stranded. Prior data says that it was the largest tidal surge within last 50 years which has hit Venice. The tidal surge monitoring centre of Italy said that the city was over flooded by a 6 feet high surge. The mayor of the city has termed it as the effect of climate change.

In November 2019, London based magazine ‘Lancet’ in a research article says that, the health of the people is already being hampered due to the climate change and the number and intensity of natural disasters and air pollution has increased manifold. The report warns us that if the global temperature increases, the scarcity of food will increase and contagious diseases will be widespread. The report also warns that if the appropriate measures are not taken to mitigate the climate change, the future generation will be compelled to face the dire consequences of health risks.

Dharitri Sarkar Sabuz obtained Masters in Environmental Conservation from Greenwich University, UK and writes on environmental issues