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Bangladesh faces rapid sea swamping

Bangladesh faces rapid sea swamping

Bangladesh faces rapid sea swamping

Bangladesh faces rapid sea swamping

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  • The study emphasizes the need for mitigation and adaptation by policymakers.
  • The sea level rise is higher along Bangladesh’s coast, with 4.2 millimeters to 5.8 millimeters annually.
  • The seawater intrudes into houses and land, causing wells and lakes to turn salty and crops on fertile land to die.
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In 2007, cyclone gales tore down Abdul Aziz’s home, prompting him, a Bangladeshi fisherman, to pack up what remained of his belongings and move about half a kilometer inland, seeking greater distance from storm surge waves. By the following year, the sea had engulfed the area where his old home had stood.

Now, 75-year-old Aziz fishes above his submerged former home and lives on the other side of a low earth and concrete embankment, against which roaring waves crash.

“The fish are swimming there in the water on my land,” he told the news, pointing toward his vanished village. “It is part of the advancing ocean.”

Government scientists are reporting that rising seas, driven by climate change, are drowning Bangladesh’s densely populated coast at one of the fastest global rates. They predict that within a generation, at least a million people on the coast will be compelled to relocate.

“Few countries experience the far-reaching and diverse effects of climate change as intensely as Bangladesh,” Abdul Hamid, director general of the environment department, wrote in a report last month.

The three-part study found that the low-lying South Asian nation was experiencing a sea level rise in some areas more than 60 percent higher than the global average.

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Based on a quarter of a century of satellite data from the US space agency NASA and its Chinese counterpart CNSA, the study projected that by 2050, more than one million people may have to be displaced due to current rates of local sea level rise.

The chief reasons why sea levels are not rising at the same rate around the world are the uneven gravity field of Earth and variations in ocean dynamics.

Study lead A.K.M Saiful Islam attributed Bangladesh’s above-average increases to melting ice caps, increasing water volumes as oceans warm, and the vast amounts of river water that flow into the Bay of Bengal every monsoon.

The study provides “a clear message” that policymakers should be prepared for “mitigation and adaptation,” he said.

Islam, a member of the UN’s IPCC climate change assessment body, studied the vast deltas where the mighty Himalayan rivers of the Ganges and Brahmaputra reach the sea.

“In recent decades, the sea level rose 3.7 millimeters (0.14 inches) each year globally,” Islam added.

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“In our study, we saw that the sea level rise is higher along our coast… 4.2 millimeters to 5.8 millimeters annually.”

“It is closing in,” said fisherman Aziz about the approaching sea, describing the terrifying waves of destruction faced by those among the estimated 20 million people living along Bangladesh’s coast. “Where else can we escape?”

Most of the country’s coastal areas sit a meter or two above sea level, but storms push seawater further inland, causing wells and lakes to turn salty and crops on once fertile land to die.
“When the surge is higher, the seawater intrudes into our houses and land,” said Ismail Howladar, a 65-year-old farmer growing chilli peppers, sweet potatoes, sunflowers, and rice.

“It brings only loss for us.”

Scientists say cyclones, which have killed hundreds of thousands of people in Bangladesh in recent decades, are becoming more frequent, intensifying, and lasting longer due to the impact of climate change.

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Shahjalal Mia, a 63-year-old restaurant owner, said he observes the sea “grasping more land” each year.

“Many people have lost their homes to the sea already,” he said. “If there is no beach, there won’t be any tourists.”

He stated that he had experienced cyclones and searing heatwaves worsening, with temperatures soaring above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

“We are facing two, three, even four cyclones every year now,” he said.

“And I can’t measure temperatures in degrees but, simply put, our bodies can’t endure this.”

According to the Global Climate Risk Index, Bangladesh ranks among the countries most vulnerable to disasters and climate change. In April, the nation of around 170 million people experienced its hottest month and the most sustained heatwave temperatures in its history.

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Last month, the government’s meteorological department reported that a cyclone, which killed at least 17 people and destroyed 35,000 homes, was one of the quickest-forming and longest-lasting seen. Rising global temperatures were attributed to both events.

Ainun Nishat, from Brac University in the capital Dhaka, stated that the poorest were paying the price for carbon emissions from wealthier nations.

“We cannot do anything for Bangladesh if other nations, notably rich countries, do not do anything to fight emissions,” he said.

“It is becoming too late to prevent disasters,” he said. “We are unequipped to bring change.”

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