Climate change is now one of the biggest problems across the globe as its impacts on human beings and the environment are very terrible and prolonged. Almost all countries of the world are directly or indirectly affected by the adverse effects of climate change. Bangladesh is not immune to the adversities of climate change. Rather, the country is at the high risk for natural disasters because of its geographical location, low-lying landscape, density of population, poverty, illiteracy, alternation in the pattern of seasons, poor infrastructures among other reasons, all according to researches.
In addition, socio-economic conditions of the country is more vulnerable than many other countries in the world. Many studies and research have revealed the adverse effects of climate change in Bangladesh. Although Bangladesh is a developing country with an area of 147,570 squares kilometers, (or 56,977 square miles) it is burdened with a huge population and 80 percent of the country is plains. Global Climate Risk Index (GCRI) 2018 prepared by GermanWatch highlighted that Bangladesh is the sixth disaster-prone country in the world. The report also highlighted that 0.443 people die from the adverse effects of climate change. In these circumstances, it is necessary to mention that Bangladesh faced 187 incidents (1997-2016) related to climate change for which the country had to face the losses of per unit GDP by 0.6776 percent, the report found.
From the above discussion, it’s obvious that Bangladesh has been undergoing & facing the adverse challenges of climate change.
Earthquakes has been threatening Bangladesh in the recent past. Bangladesh is located in a moderately risky territory and the density of population and infrastructural condition are always a matter of concern. It has been observed that under the area between 20.35° N to 26.75°N Latitude and 88.03° E to 92.75° E Longitude, most of the earthquakes occurred were not devastating but the occurrences of those small magnitude earthquakes have been increasing significantly.
Earthquakes in Bangladesh in the recent past is given below.
The Assam Earthquake: 15th August 1950: One of the largest earthquakes of 20th century with a magnitude of 8.7 killed about 1500 people in India. Heavy damages were observed. It also shook Bangladesh, Myanmar and a part of China but no significant damages were reported in those regions.
The Bay of Bengal Earthquake: 11th August 2009: The epicenter of that earthquake was located at the North Andaman Islands of the Bay of Bengal and seacoast of Myanmar with a magnitude of 7.5. It was strongly felt from Dhaka but fortunately no heavy damages occurred.
The Myanmar Earthquake: 24th August 2016: The epicenter of this earthquake was in 25 km west of Chauk in Myanmar with a magnitude of 6.8. It was strongly felt in Chittagong and Dhaka. 3 people died in Myanmar but in Bangladesh, no casualties were reported but 20 people were seriously injured.
The twenty-first Conference of Parties or COP21 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held and came to an end with all the 195 member countries of the planet agreeing to the “Paris Agreement” after a long session from November 29 to December 11, 2015 at Le Bourget in Paris. If there was no agreement in Paris, the planet was destined to experience temperatures above 3 degrees centigrade by 2100. This would challenge the planet and human civilization, its food, water and livelihood, securities as well as a drastic reduction in the number of species and greater acidification of the oceans. All the countries would experience dramatic rise in extreme environmental conditions which would result in extreme poverty and the global risks were too high for the economy, development and environment.
During the last decade, Bangladesh has spent more than $1.5 billion of its own resources, particularly for adaptation activities, of which almost half a billion came from the CCTF . (Climate Change Task Force). However, in the future, Bangladesh will have to deal with and plan for two major overarching trends. The first is the move to graduate out of the LDC status. (Least Developed Status). This means that the share of grants and concessional loans in development assistance will gradually decline. The other, a negative trend, is to tackle the increasingly adverse impacts of climate change. This means that adaptation financing both from external and domestic sources will assume an increasingly critical role.
Almost one fourth of the total population of the country lives in the coastal areas of Bangladesh. People are affected by coastal floods or tidal surges, river-bank erosion, salinity, tropical cyclones etc. When sea-level rises up to one meter, 15% of land area of Bangladesh will go under the sea water and around 30 million people living in those coastal areas of Bangladesh could become refugees. Salinity intrusion from the Bay of Bengal already penetrates 100 kilometers inside the country during the dry season.
Agriculture and Fisheries:
The economy of Bangladesh is based on agriculture mainly as its two-third population engaged directly or indirectly on agricultural activities. Bangladesh is trying to become industrialized slowly. So, the overall impact of climate change on agricultural production in Bangladesh was huge and devastating for the country’s economy. Cyclones brings many adversities to agriculture. The salinity increases in the coastal area due to cyclones and tidal surge. The fisheries sector has to experience an adverse effect because of the impacts of climate change. The fisheries sector contributes about 3.5% of the GDP in Bangladesh and people depend on fish products in order to meet up their daily protein requirements. There are around 260 species of fish in the country and almost all the varieties are sensitive to specific salt and freshwater conditions.
Water Resources and Hydrology:
In a high densely populated country like Bangladesh, the effects of climate change on the surface and ground water resources will be very severe and alarming. Changes to water resources and hydrology will have a significant impact on the country’s economy because people mostly depend on the surface water for irrigation, fishery, industrial production, transport and other activities.
Forestry / Biodiversity:
Bangladesh has got a well diversity of ecosystems having Mangrove forests at the southern part of the country. Including the famous Royal Bengal Tiger, 425 species are there. So, climate change will have negative effects on the ecosystem of the forest recourses in Bangladesh and the Sundarbans will suffer the most.
Among the professions, the farmers are the worst sufferer of climate change. Agriculture is hampered to a great extent at the same time industry also face challenges. City dwellers are less affected but the urban poor are more affected. Women are vulnerable because of the gender inequalities in Bangladesh. During the 1991 cyclone and Storm surge in Bangladesh, the death rate in case of women was almost five times higher than the men. Because men were able to communicate with each other in the public spaces, but the information did not reach most of the women timely.
Now science has given the power to predict climate. Sophisticated models and instruments can make detailed weather forecasts which is useful to our daily lives. But to understand global climate change, scientists need more forecasts’ information. They need a deeper understanding of the complex and interrelated issues that shape climate. Physicists can provide a better forecast of global weather patterns accurately predicting climate change using statistical physics. In this era of science and technology, the solutions of a problem can be found only through scientific study and research. As a student of physics, the academic major is closely related to research on climate change and how the study of physics can mitigate the losses due to climate change.
Climate change is a serious issue which affects everyone. A student of physics is in a position to receive opportunities to contribute to the process of mitigating the adverse consequences of climate change. Climate change is coming out with new challenges every day which can be solved by choosing a career with the study of physics. Climate change can impact a person’s career which is challenging because it is a path to save a nation and ultimately the whole world.
Bangladesh is graduating from Least Developed Country (LDC) to a Developing Country. It has many economic challenges along with climate change. The Government of Bangladesh wishes to be a developed nation by 2041. There are different projects and plans to reduce the losses caused by climate change and some of these projects have already started. But the success of those projects depend on the political stability and actual performances of those projects and plans.
The Government of Bangladesh has taken policies to stop or to protect the country from the adverse effects of climate change. For example, some policies promote the digging of canals and rivers, planting trees, reducing fuel use, being energy efficient, choosing renewable power, using solar power & electric vehicles etc. The government is also trying to create awareness through such advertisements as “eats wisely, trim wastage, fly less, let polluters pay, support and donate”. Sustainable projects like green buildings, white roofs, organic farming, LED lighting, has been working well too. The government has emphasized the generation of electricity and using it.
Students can play a vital role in creating awareness on how we can conserve our environment efficiently; students should understand the global problem by heart so that no activity of a student goes against it. USA is the country where people from all over the world live together, students from other countries should come forward to create awareness among their nations too. Everyone should take climate change very seriously and every government should be very pro-active when creating effective policies to combat with this challenge.