Saturday, May 5, 2007

Harbingers: Climate Impacts on Bangladesh

Chicago Tribune: “…Bangladesh, which has 140 million people packed into an area a little smaller than Illinois, is one of the most vulnerable places to climate change. As the sea level slowly rises, this nation that is little more than a series of low-lying delta islands amid some of Asia's mightiest rivers -- the Ganges, Jamuna-Brahmaputra and Meghna -- is seeing saltwater creep into its coastal soils and drinking water. Farmers near the Bay of Bengal who once grew rice now are raising shrimp.

“Notorious for its deadly cyclones, Bangladesh is likely to face increasingly violent storms as the weather warms and see surging seas carry saltwater farther and farther up the country's rivers, ruining soils, according to scientists.

“On Bangladesh's southern coast, erosion driven in part by accelerating glacier melt and unusually intense rains already has scoured away half of Bhola Island, which once covered an area nearly 20 times the size of Chicago. Land disputes, many driven by erosion, now account for 77 percent of Bangladesh's legal suits. In the dry northwest of the country, droughts are getting more severe. And if sea level rises by 3 feet by the turn of the century, as some scientists predict, a fifth of the country will disappear.

“’Bangladesh is nature's laboratory on disaster management,’ said Ainun Nishat, Bangladesh representative of the World Conservation Union and a government adviser on climate change. As temperatures rise and more severe weather takes hold worldwide, ‘this is one of the countries that is going to face the music most,’ he said.”

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