Once again this month we revisit the issue of climate change and the potential impact on the people of Bangladesh. We make no apology for our continued banging of this particular drum, as climate change is already one of the biggest crises facing the nation and there can be no doubt that in the years to come that this will become more and more evident.
The problem with climate change is that it exacerbates all the other crises that we face in the country. Whether we are talking about food security or environmental pollution or runaway population, all these problems, bad enough as they are today, are made exponentially worse by climate change.
It is hard to pinpoint just how much of the current environmental devastation that we are suffering can be laid at the door of climate change. There are floods and cyclones and all the associated problems: riverbank erosion, increased salinity of cropland, less land to farm and live on, etc. How much can be attributed to factors such as up-river deforestation and our own encroachment of the river-bed and banks, and how much can be attributed to man-made climate change is an open question.
But there can be no question that fossil fuel emissions are causing serious climactic changes and the consequences for Bangladesh are potentially catastrophic.
So what can we do and what should others do? Here, we attempt to add ballast to the debate. There are lone voices warning of the coming crisis here and there in Bangladesh, but the truth is that we do not have anything approaching a climate change policy. The steps taken to minimise environmental damage and its consequences are pretty insignificant; the steps taken to address the fallout caused by climate change are non-existent.
This is not just our problem. It is the world's problem. In the first place, it is the rest of the world that has created the crisis, not us. In the second, climate change-induced rising sea levels will trigger a massive humanitarian crisis and/or tens of millions of Bangladeshis fleeing our receding shores for safer ground. Neither is a happy prospect, and we hope that the developed world acknowledges its complicity and accepts its responsibility to ameliorate the effects of climate change on countries such as Bangladesh
But what we are hoping for is that this issue of Forum, by concentrating our minds, will help Bangladeshis to start to focus on what we can do alleviate the fall-out from climate change. There is little we can do to prevent its effects, but there is surely much we can do to address its negative consequences.