Contributing Monkie Jennifer Buonantony
Published on January 10, 2009
Photographer: tomu.cs (cc)
If you’ve being reading up on global warming’s effect on global conflict (and you should be), you know that seemingly minor temperature changes can have an enormous impact on heating up global tensions. But climate change is not only causing violent conflict over lack of usable land and food, it’s also causing a new type of global refugee to form — the “climate refugee”.
Global warming is causing a rise in sea levels, and according to the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change), sea levels rose between 9 and 20 cm over the last century. As reported by BBC News, scientists predict further increases of 9 to 88 cm by the year 2100. For some of us, this may seem like a minimal height change over a hundred year period, but for coastal regions, this rise could mean the difference between having a home and watching your home flooded with water and washed out to sea.
Photographer: TMAB2003 (cc)
Take for example, the South Asian country of Bangladesh, which is situated in the low-lying Ganges River delta. It happens to be one of the most densely populated countries on Earth and is also one of the most flood-prone. The country’s landscape is already known to come and go with the coastal tides and change in seasons, and the flat landscape of the country contributes to its flooding from rivers. The BBC predicts that the rise in sea levels will leave “a fifth of Bangladesh under water”, and that salt absorbed in the ground water could render fields up to 40km from the coastline useless for growing crops. With the destruction of coastal homes countrywide and lack of usable land inland, these residents will be forced to migrate. And in a country that is already so densely populated, one can imagine that a move on this scale will not be welcomed.
What’s sucks for Bangladesh is the fact that they’re a country that makes little contribution to the pollution responsible for global warming. Most of the coastal villages still have no electricity and no vehicles.
Dr. Atik Rahman of the Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies stated the Bagladesh crisis best. “No contribution, highest impact – that makes a huge case of moral inequality against which the global citizenry, the global nation states, must take action, If not we’ll be calling it climatic genocide. That’s where we’re heading.”
If efforts are not made now, countries like Bangladesh will find coastal regions destroyed and their people homeless. Bangladesh is only one of the many places that will be affected. On a larger scale, millions of people worldwide will be forced to migrate. With populations at an all time high globally, one can not help but wonder where these “climate refugees” will go and how this influx of people will affect neighboring nations and international relations.
Photographer: Ahron de Leeuw (cc)