Climate Change in Asia: Who cares if Bangladesh drowns?
South Asia comprises three percent of the world’s land mass, yet it is inhabited by one-fifth of the world’s population. Of the region’s population 60% live off or near coastal areas, and are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and rising sea levels.
According to the UNEP South Asia Environment Outlook 2009 Climate Change could be the biggest threat for Asia. The report says:
“South Asian countries have started to face the effects of climate change and are particularly at risk. Intense floods, droughts and cyclones have impacted on the economic performances of South Asian countries and the lives of millions of poor, it also puts at risk infrastructure, agriculture, human health, water resources and the environment.”
Veteran Journalist Afsan Chowdhary has prepared this documentary: Who cares if Bangladesh drowns?
60% of people in Bangladesh depend on agriculture. Coastal areas have already started experiencing salinity and sea level rises, whereas western parts of the country are facing droughts. Thousands are losing their homes, their livelihoods, year after year.
The poor are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, though they have done little to contribute to it. The world needs to wake up to the fact that Climate Change is not something that’s going to happen in the distant future. It’s happening now, it’s happening quickly and it’s already a day-to-day reality for millions of people.
Afsan Chowdhary concludes that climate change is not an environmental problem but a social and economic problem, it is a result of overconsumption and greed. If we don’t solve it, it will kill us and our children.
How much does the world really care that millions from developing countries like Bangladesh and coastal areas of countries like Maldives, India, Indonesia, Phillipines and others will be drastically affected by the impacts of climate change?
At the COP15 Copenhagen Climate Change Summit, the proposal was to mobilise US$10 billion per year between 2010 and 2012, and up to US$100 billion by 2020 annually. This represents only 0.8% to 8% of developed countries’ national defence budgets, respectively. In contrast, about US$2 trillion was spent on the financial bailout, and over US$1 trillion for the Iraq war. Does the world have its priorities right?
South East Asian countries continue to oil their economic engine of growth. The transition to a low carbon future is a huge challenge, given the energy intensity of industries in countries like India. According to an ADB report last year, the region is likely to suffer economically at twice the global average. It is estimated under Business As Usual, it will cost SE Asia about 6.7% of its GDP by 2100. The stakes are high, and if the world took action now, much of the distress and impact can be averted.
Further links you may be interested in:
Stories of 4 women: Climate Change in Bangladesh (Videos)
Challenge to Change.Org : Document showing impact and vulnerabilities to Climate Change in Asia
What can individuals do? I borrow words from the earlier blog Climate Refugees: A new Eco-Movie:
Take action in your lives – at home, in your community, at your workplace to reduce your footprint on this planet, and never for a moment doubt whether it will make a difference. There are lots of ideas in this website on steps to create these changes, big and small; the important thing is to actually take those steps.
Simplify your lives, scale down your consumption of goods, energy, water and resources of the world, and spread the word around.
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