Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

The crisis facing people in Bangladesh

COP26 may have now left the headlines, but the difficulties facing different communities from the dual combination of climate change and poverty haven’t gone away. Given the challenge of climate change is affecting the whole world, it can be tricky to break down the scale of the problem into specific countries and their varying issues that will arise.

Climate change and a failure to develop have resulted in farmers having to change their industries

One of those nations is Bangladesh, which has recently suffered numerous cyclones which have devastated villages. The volume of saltwater rushing in has had a huge impact on the farming industries within the nation. While urbanisation has hugely increased across the world, farming and rural industries remain immensely important in livelihoods and individual dependency. Indeed, climate change and a failure to develop have resulted in farmers having to change their industries. What previously might have been rice fields have been transformed into ponds that farm crab and shrimp. Crab farming has allowed individuals, for example, to make £17.60 per day selling 100kg of soft-shell crabs. It is reassuring that individuals have been able to make some income, but this is surely not sustainable.

The cyclones facing Bangladesh are strong and immense. They have displaced millions in the short term and in the long term caused huge destruction to the land. Reaching speeds of 151km per hour, the UN have just highlighted how concerning these are, with a 2016 study finding that two-thirds of Bangladeshis were forced to move due to needing to give up farming. Charities have naturally tried to assist where they can in helping individuals mitigate the deeply negative effects of the cyclones. While urbanisation should be encouraged and celebrated, there are clearly a proportion of national populations that would prefer to remain farming as opposed to travelling to big cities. They should not be prevented from doing so.

The reduction of fossil fuels within the energy generation of national governments is essential

What is required is an understanding for how individuals can best adapt and change can be driven. Clearly, the reduction of fossil fuels within the energy generation of national governments is essential. However, given that COP26 only pledged to phase down rather than phase out coal use, it would suggest that governments are going to continue to rely on unsustainable energy sources. What effect this will have on weather conditions in the future can hardly be regarded in a positive or optimistic light.

A new narrative on climate change is needed and must recognise that development and progress can occur in a sustainable manner. Just as the UK and USA industrialised, other nations like Bangladesh should be free to develop technologies that would allow their citizens to better flourish. This could occur both to boost national economies and livelihoods while also providing protection where extreme weather events do occur. The role of other nations here will be pivotal in helping to provide the funds to enable this sustainable development to take place. It will ensure nations can have a meaningful sustainable future and also that those who polluted the most in the past are making the required contributions. While the changes are scary and volatile, like with all measures, it will be human ingenuity that gets us through this.

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