Skip to main content

“There are a lot of places in the world at risk from rising sea levels, but Bangladesh is at the top of everybody’s list,” said Rafael Reuveny, a professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University at Bloomington. “And the world is not ready to cope with the problems.”

The effects of climate change have led to a growing sense of outrage in developing nations, many of which have contributed little to the pollution that is linked to rising temperatures and sea levels but will suffer the most from the consequences.

Those two paragraphs are from Borrowed Time on Disappearing Land: Facing Rising Seas, Bangladesh Confronts the Consequences of Climate Change, an article in today's New York Times that I urge everyone here to read.


- because the the impact of climate change is already having severe impact upon millions
- because those feeling its impact are the poor, in nations that did little to create the problem (although some of what happens in those nations can make the impact even worse)
- because all of our wealth as a nation will be insufficient to protect all of our citizens when such impact begins to regularly affect this nation, which is why this nation should be leading the efforts to STOP and REVERSE the human impact upon global climate change.

Please keep reading.

I am not a scientist, but one does not have to be in order to understand what is happening.  Stories like the one to which this posting refers provide the kinds of information readily accessible to anyone not willfully blinded either by private economic interest or by an ideology - political or religious - that is used as an excuse not to accept the reality of what is already happening.

The article is far more than words - take your time, at not only read the words offer by reporter Gardiner Harris, but look carefully at the accompanying photos and videos.  

If I have not already convinced you, let me offer the beginning of the piece:  

DAKOPE, Bangladesh — When a powerful storm destroyed her riverside home in 2009, Jahanara Khatun lost more than the modest roof over her head. In the aftermath, her husband died and she became so destitute that she sold her son and daughter into bonded servitude. And she may lose yet more.

Ms. Khatun now lives in a bamboo shack that sits below sea level about 50 yards from a sagging berm. She spends her days collecting cow dung for fuel and struggling to grow vegetables in soil poisoned by salt water. Climate scientists predict that this area will be inundated as sea levels rise and storm surges increase, and a cyclone or another disaster could easily wipe away her rebuilt life. But Ms. Khatun is trying to hold out at least for a while — one of millions living on borrowed time in this vast landscape of river islands, bamboo huts, heartbreaking choices and impossible hopes.

heartbreaking choices and impossible hopes

For millions upon millions of people.

Whose sources of potable water are disappearing.

As ice masses melt and ocean levels rise and coastal regions flood:  

Such a rise will be uneven because of gravitational effects and human intervention, so predicting its outcome in any one place is difficult. But island nations like the Maldives, Kiribati and Fiji may lose much of their land area, and millions of Bangladeshis will be displaced.
Bangladesh has tens of millions being impacted.  Bangladesh produces just 0.3% of the carbon emissions that are contributing to the problem.  

Why the focus on Bangladesh?  

River deltas around the globe are particularly vulnerable to the effects of rising seas, and wealthier cities like London, Venice and New Orleans also face uncertain futures. But it is the poorest countries with the biggest populations that will be hit hardest, and none more so than Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated nations in the world. In this delta, made up of 230 major rivers and streams, 160 million people live in a place one-fifth the size of France and as flat as chapati, the bread served at almost every meal.
50 million Bangladeshis are at risk.  A country with a population half that of the United States, which contributes 1/75 of what we do to carbon emissions, and which is suffering at hundreds of times the rate we are.

Remember, if the entire world lived at the level of consumption of Americans we would already exceed the carrying capacity of our planet by a factor of at least 5.  

It is not that we have not been able to realize that this was happening.  Perhaps people might want to take a look at this paper co-authored by Paul Erlich -  in 1992!!!  

Read the article.

Perhaps the impact upon Bangladesh will appear as not all that relevant to the US.

But it is.

Perhaps we are not yet understanding all the impacts upon us, but there are already happening.

Because of our insistence upon profligate consumption we are wreaking environmental devastation upon Appalachia through mountaintop removal to get at coal, we are poisoning rivers there and with what we are doing with going for oil from tar sands.  We are causing earthquakes and probably poisoning aquifers by fracking.  

We will see more extreme weather because more heat equals more energy which means more severe storms - winds and precipitation.

In the meantime, what about what we and the other industrialized nations are doing to millions, maybe even billions, around the world?

What about the island nations?  What about Bangladesh?

What are we going to do as a nation?

what are we going to do as individuals?

I wonder . . . . .


Originally posted to teacherken on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 07:27 AM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS, DK GreenRoots, and Climate Hawks.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Will it be as bad as they say? (4+ / 0-)

    1. Bangladesh has about 150 million people

    2.  The overwhelming majority of the population lives on or near the seashore.

    3.  As the sea levels rise they will simply move further inland.  This will not be easy but. . .

    4.  isn't the current level of sheer, abject poverty even a worse catastrophe than what will happen when 50 million people relocate by (approximately) 50 miles in 50 years?

    in other words,

    sea level rise is the least of our concerns.

    A collapse in global fishing stocks, a climate-driven increase in food costs and the regional instability that these things bring is going to take down billions before the seas rise by 2 feet.
    •  I think you miss the point (15+ / 0-)

      other effects will be massive, but they will occur because of the rising sea levels

      we will also see fighting over potable water

      we will see real issues of food dislocations and starvation

      we will see military conflict over resources

      and yes we will see civil disorder

      much of that will come because of see level rise and concomitant dislocation of large numbers of people.

      "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

      by teacherken on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 07:44:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Fenced off (7+ / 0-)

      One reaction to rising sea levels in the area is increased work on completing and patrolling the boundary fence between India and Bangladesh. To keep them in. So - there is no farther inland to move to, and to the extent that Bangladesh has inland areas above projected sea level rise, guess what - they are inhabited already.

      This is well described in the book Windfall, by McKenzie Funk

      I interviewed the author just before his inaugural reading even and have an article about the book that will come out soon in our local paper Whatcom Watch.

    •  Worse (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      James Wells, wader

      You're talking about moving about 150 million people inland over an area that already basically doesn't support them, probably destroying any resources that land produces. (I suspect that's mostly agricultural land, so you're talking about taking away food resources as they move.)

      So, yes, Bangladesh was a basket case even when it separated from Pakistan, and before that, but then inundating them on top of it seems like it would be worse than if they were just struggling with their former problems.

      I think it's a good question, but I believe the answer is that flooding the whole country as a result of climate change is probably far, far worse, simply because it's piled on top of the other woes.

    •  It will be worse, both there and here, and (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      I am reading Bill McKibben's excellent book, "Eaarth." If you haven't read it I highly recommend it.

      Among many of the topics in the book, he discusses Bangladesh's particular vulnerability to climate change effects. It is indeed a disaster in slow motion.

      Well worth reading.

    •  No, it will be much worse (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Take a closer look at the map you linked.  The area of the highest density is not just sea shore but extends all the way to the north of the country.  And Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world (for any above 10 million in pop.).

      Also Bangladesh is a river delta.  If you look at your map reference more closely you can see there really isn't much of an "inland".  There's more river shoreline than "sea shore"

      From the article, an optimistic estimate:

      The country’s climate scientists and politicians have come to agree that by 2050, rising sea levels will inundate some 17 percent of the land and displace about 18 million people, Dr. Rahman said.
      "Not be easy"?  Where will they migrate to?  There is no open space inland that is available for settlement.  The many dysfunctional aspects of the country due to population density are about to worsen.  If the population continues to grow there could be another 50 million Bangladeshis to fit into the country  Since the land area is shrinking, density will increase by about 50% by 2050 for the 210+  million population.  Many refugees will attempt to move to India or Myanmar and this will become an international humanitarian crisis as those countries will also be experiencing problems of their own.

      I honestly don't get your point number 4.    Bangladesh will not get a choice for which problem they need to work on.  Both are dangerous.  Both will overwhelm them and compound the nation's troubles.  As one of the poorest nations in Asia, they hardly have much in the way of resources for financing the movement of tens of millions of people.

      And here is the real killer.  If somehow they manage to relocate 20+ million people over the next 35 years without hundreds of thousands of deaths and keep society and government intact, THEY GET TO DO IT AGAIN!

      This is a progressing problem.  What if the reality is worse than the optimistic predictions?  What if trends continue and by the year 2100 they need to have another 40 million people relocated?

      Assuming the nation can be held intact, how is Bangladesh going to manage with ever more people on ever less land.  How would the country look with sea levels at 9-10 meters higher?

      I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

      by Satya1 on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 11:56:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The color codes (0+ / 0-)

        in the image you saw had a difference in population density by 300%

        red was 4 times a populated as orange.

        The orange areas will turn to red.

        This is not going to be as bad as the future hurricanes, water scarcity and regional tensions that wide scale global warming will bring.

        We must work together to repair our global socio/economic climatic environment -  or face wholescale collapse.

        •  You're misunderstanding the map (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          red was 4 times a populated as orange.
          The darkest color is 1000 or more.  The second darkest color is 250 to 1000.

          Your language which tends to draw a clean line between the sea level problem and all the other ones is over-simplistic and irrelevant IMO.  They are all related.  A higher sea level will carry cyclone destruction further into the delta and endanger the largest cities even more.

          I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

          by Satya1 on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 02:34:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for diary. :-) (0+ / 0-)

      You ran into a hardcore progressive whos just another working stiff with an MBA degree & vociferous labor union supporter

      by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 08:20:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There's quite a bit of overlap between the two (0+ / 0-)

      Wealth disparity is off the charts in Bangladesh, and has only gotten worse since its embrace of neoliberal doctrine in the 80s. Just wait until the speculators get to have their way with the region as the supply of usable land is literally wiped from the face of the earth.

      "The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities" - Adam Smith

      by Jesse Douglas on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 02:55:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have not been blogging much lately (12+ / 0-)

    I have a ton on my plate, and am behind on some writing commitments.  It is serious enough that I am skipping yoga class today and maybe tomorrow as well.  I also have some job related issues I have to address, as well as a ton of papers to correct before the marking period ends on Thursday.

    But sometimes one encounters something that requires one to respond.  

    So it was for me when I looked at the article about which I wrote here.

    I am hoping that I am able to bring some attention to it and thank those who thought enough of it to elevate it however temporarily to the recommended list.


    "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

    by teacherken on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 07:59:15 AM PDT

  •  surprised this is not getting more comments! (4+ / 0-)

    I would be interested in what reactions people had after going to the underlying article

    "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

    by teacherken on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 08:57:12 AM PDT

  •  When it's far away, it's hard to imagine (9+ / 0-)

    what life is like for people in Bangladesh.  We are too busy at the mall, too busy worrying about the price of gas for our SUVs, too busy eating meat, meat, and more meat.  We are too busy to notice the threats our neighbors face.

    Now if the sea levels were rising like this in New York….oh, wait...

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 08:57:47 AM PDT

    •  Too busy to notice the threats... (0+ / 0-)

      ...our neighbors face...until those threats compel our neighbors to become unwilling threats. My grave concern is that environment/climate forced mass migration and its predictable collateral impact is probably viewed as a near term profit opportunity by at least some of the Financial Global Elites. Enough of an "opportunity" to effectively veto for years, perhaps decades the intentions of that segment of the Elites who perceive said "opportunity" as a very loud wake up call.

      Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 10:27:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A Climate Message.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JVolvo, James Wells, Calamity Jean

    ...from Matiar Rehman of Dhaka, Bangladesh, a professional performer on the bowed instrument called the sarangi.  

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 09:59:07 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for posting this (0+ / 0-)

    I read the article and found it very moving.   Bangladesh is clearly in a bad position.

    In the article they mention

    Some leaders have demanded that rich countries compensate poor countries for polluting the atmosphere. A few have even said that developed countries should open their borders to climate migrants.
    Bangladesh already has citizens who could qualify as climate refugees - if they knew they had somewhere to go.  And countries that are among the worst climate offenders (US?) have a clear obligation to step in and offer help.

    But we are still living in denial - and that needs to change before we will respond as we should to help these people.  I hope our country's political swing to the left accelerates enough to minimize the suffering.

    Understanding is limited by perspective. Perspective is limited by experience. America is a great place to live but it limits our ability to understand.

    by CindyV on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 11:04:53 AM PDT

  •  unfortunately the NYT only allows non-subscribers (0+ / 0-)

    10 "look-see's" per calendar month. I have to "spend" mine sparingly to make them last!

    that means I have to weigh each link to the Times, IF I notice it is going to the Times! Really wish more folks who post NYT links would SAY SO near the link...

    I've about learned that your (Ken's) links almost always go there, at least.

    "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

    by chimene on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 01:16:42 PM PDT

  •  Bangladesh, one of the first nations to submit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    an adaptataion plan to UNFCCC and it proved to be a model for the other Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.

    I covered several meetings and interviewed several members of the Bangladesh government working on climate change devastation ... truly heart breaking.

    Good to see this NYT article.

    I'll provide some links to info i have from before below

    RIP Nelson Mandela

    by boatsie on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 05:03:50 PM PDT

  •  These are the people who... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Are not on Twitter or Facebook. We don't see selfies, we don't see food posts, and they're not Linked In.  They don't blog.

    What this means in today's world is they're even more screwed.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 05:29:48 PM PDT

    •  others can speak for them (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to amplify their voices

      the NY Times did that and I was glad to assist

      "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

      by teacherken on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 06:00:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site