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Climate migrants creating economic disequilibrium

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05th-Oct-2017       
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THE idea that climate change can have insalubrious effects for Bangladesh was a projection but now it is turning into a visible danger. Bangladesh has become the poster child for climate change in the years. Quoting several study reports, a vernacular daily reported that unseasonable rain, excessive rainfall, drought, floods, stormy weather, cyclones, intrusion of saline water, and landslides are the effects of rising earth temperatures and subsequent sea levels. The untimely environmental change is not unprecedented but the frequency of the climate change has posed a huge threat to the country, which emits only 0.3 percent of the emissions producing climate change. Definitely, the unfolding calamity demands a response from the international community.

Meteorological Department stated that rainfall in this autumn has repressed rainfall in the monsoon too. The capital city on last Friday and Saturday received 155 mm rainfall, which is very rare for this time of the year. Earlier, the city dwellers were fried in the sultry temperature of 24 to 37 degree Celsius, which normally occurs in summer. Usually, floods hit the Haor areas in April-May but this year horrific floods hit in March and the floods which affected the northern part of the country in August-September saw the highest level of water rise in the last 100 years. Frequent thunderstorms killed 170 people this year, while rise of earth temperatures is the phenomenal cause behind the increasing rainfall. Besides, intrusion of saline water in the Southern rivers is devastating for agro-production and fisheries in the region. The climate change effects are occurring for the last 30 years and it eventually affects food production, causes new disasters, spreads diseases, and displaces a large number of people. This internal migration is bothering the large cities, the capital city Dhaka in particular with the rise of slums.

Cyclones have always impacted the country long before anthropogenic climate change but the rate of and intensity of cyclones and large storms have recently begun to increase. Dam construction on rivers flowing into the country, combined with glacial melt in the Himalayas, are leading to extreme shifts in river flow and exacerbating river erosion. Mix all that in with poverty, corruption, political instability, lack of adequate healthcare and education and it makes the country extremely difficult for people to live. Bangladesh has become ground zero for climate migration while many of these climate migrants have no choice but to live in the crowded slums of Dhaka. In recent years, riverbank erosion has annually displaced between 50,000 and 200,000 people. So the question now is: where will they go when 15 percent of the country goes underwater in the next 50 years, and its rich farmlands along the southern coast can no longer feed its massive population?

Despite being devastated by climate change, Bangladesh barely contributes to this phenomenon. What makes climate change particularly cruel for Bangladesh is that it makes it even more difficult for the population to climb out of poverty. Though Bangladesh has received considerable media attention for changes to its climate, the international community has made little progress in terms of making serious commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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