Will Bangladesh drown?

Bangladesh is a nation which is on the front line of the consequence of the climate changes. Being a populous river delta nation it faces the threat of sea level rise due to global warming. This threat is not new as often floods make hundreds of thousands of people homeless, because a large portion of the country submerge under water during large floods. But the resilient people of this country rise and start all over again to progress as a nation.

Image courtesy: Desh Calling

While the threat of sea-level rise is very much plausible, recent media reports have gone a bit far in indicating that Bangladesh is set to disappear under the waves by the end of the century. These kinds of views have drawn a lot of criticism in the media and in the blogosphere.

Writer and columnist Anisul Haque writes in Priyo.com:

বাংলাদেশ ডুবে যাবে−এই আওয়াজটা এত জোরেশোরে উঠল কেন? সম্প্রতি নাসা থেকে এ সংক্রান্ত একটা পূর্বাভাস দেওয়া হয়েছে। এ সবই করা হয় বৈশ্বিক উষ্ণায়ন বন্ধে জাতিসমূহকে সতর্ক ও সক্রিয় করে তোলার জন্যে। কিন্তু সব সময়ই বলির পাঁঠা বানানো হয় বাংলাদেশকে। সমুদ্রপৃষ্ঠ যদি উঁচু হয়, তাহলে শুধু বাংলাদেশ একা ডুববে, আর পৃথিবীর কোথাও কারও কোনো ক্ষতি হবে না, তা তো হয় না।…পৃথিবীর বহু বড় শহর আছে, সমুদ্রপৃষ্ঠের নিচে যাদের অবস্থান; সমুদ্রের পানি উঁচু হলে সেই সব শহরের কী হবে?

Why all these hue and cry that Bangladesh will be submerged under water? Recently a report from NASA predicted this. These kinds of reports are generated to warn others to wake up and take precautions against global warming. But Bangladesh is always made the scapegoat. If sea-levels rise then only Bangladesh will submerge and other countries will bear no damage; this is not the reality… There are a number of cities in the world which are below sea-level. What will happen to them in case of sea-level rise?

Desh Calling quotes a newspaper report which gives a contradictory picture that according to Bangladeshi scientists Bangladesh is growing in size by 20 square km a year due to accumulation of sediments:

In the next 50 years this could add up to the country gaining 1,000 square kilometers.

In the Bangla blogging community Sachalayatan the issue gave rise to an interesting debate. Himu argues that the threat is not mere rumor and it has some substance. Papua New Guinea, Australia and Tasmania were separated from each other because of sea-level rise.

A commenter Siraj opines in his post:

বৈশ্বিক উষ্ণায়নের এই ব্যাপক ধুঁয়া আসলে জ্বালানী রাজনীতির এক খেলা। ইমারজিং এশিয়ার ব্যাপক জ্বালানী চাহীদাকে নিয়ন্ত্রন এবং উন্নত প্রযুক্তির বিপনণই এর প্রধান উদ্দেশ্য।

The much ado about global warming is actually a play of energy politics. The main goal is to control the energy demands of the emerging Asia and a ploy to market the latest technologies.

Faruq Wasif also comments:

বাংলাদেশের ভেতরে এবং বৈশ্বিকভাবেও একটা মত জোরালো হচ্ছিল যে, যাদের কারণে আমরা ক্ষতিগ্রস্থ হচ্ছি, তাদের এর ক্ষতিপূরণ দিতে হবে। এরকম একটি কাজ যখন এগিয়ে যাচ্ছিল এবং বাংলাদেশের কিছূ ক্ষতিপূরণ পাবার সম্ভাবনা দেখা দিচ্ছিল, তখনই বিশ্বব্যাংক নাক গলায়। তারা ক্ষতিপূরণের বদলে, ক্লাইমেট ফান্ড গঠনের প্রস্তাব নিয়ে হাজির হলো। এরা দেশের ভেতরে কিছু প্রচারকও পাঠাল।….এরা আহাজারি করা শুরু করলো যে, বাংলাদেশ ডুববেই। এর জন্য নতুন প্রযুক্তি দরকার, নতুন বিনিয়োগ দরকার। ব্যস হয়ে গেল। যা বাংলাদেশ ক্ষতিপূরণ হিসেবে পেত, তা এখন আসবে ঋণ হিসেবে। এবং তার পরিমাণ দুই বিলিয়ন ডলার!

There was an opinion getting strong in Bangladesh and the world that those countries who are responsible for global warming will compensate the affected countries. When work towards that was going on and Bangladesh was about to receive some compensation, then the World Bank intervened. They came up with a proposal of a climate fund (controlled by World Bank). They have sent some preachers in this country. They started this cry that Bangladesh will definitely go under water. So new technology is required, new investment is required to prevent this. That's it. What Bangladesh was about to receive as compensation, they will receive now as a loan. And the amount is staggering 2 billion US Dollar!

In the Bangla Cricket forum a discussion followed on an op-ed published in the Daily Star titled “Bangladesh drowning: A reality or a myth?“ which said this negative publicity will hinder the country's growth by keeping away investors. Citing the successful Dutch land-management to protect their land under sea-level the article pointed that the impending threat to Bangladesh is population explosion not sea level rise.

A commenter Niceman70 said in the forum:

It is very important in this world to be positive and work out your problems at the same time.

So instead of creating a panic that Bangladesh will drown the world needs to work out ways to hinder such consequences of climate change in affected countries without employing shrewd politics.


  • subhagata choudhury

    Bangladesh is drowning is rather a myth than a reality. The situation is exaggerated. We should be practical and truthful to make such comment

  • Chris Hooymans

    Bangledesh had better make a priority of planning for this probable eventuality – copy the Dutch and start protecting what little you have – or someday you might find it is gone – petition the powers that be (UN, WHO etc.) to start a Mega-Project – you already have all the cheap labour and what more incentive do you need. Stop being victims and start fixing your problems. If you think the world is going to “bail you out” later – you might be surprised that everyone is having problems of their own to deal with.

  • arfan hossain

    I agree that it is just a mere exaggeration but it really is a major concern for the
    whole nation as we are already losing chunks of land. If we look carefully people who stays beside the river banks of our country are in a very fragile state. This is due to uncertainity of land as they have seen many others losing precious land. I think it is a concern for the nation and we should take steps to minimize this hazards. Afterall, we don’t want to lose our precious country.

  • subhagata choudhury

    agreed. so we need to have an Environmental protection agency with experts and to a draw a practcable and sustainable plan for implementation and for that we need the political will to protect the environment. subhagata

  • The trends are clear – the erosion and eventual loss of habitat is happening. Take charge of your lives, burying your collective heads in the mud until its too late is pathetic and lazy. How many of your people need to die before you wake up – or don’t you care?

  • Kuakata

    I think it’s a deliberate propaganda (BBC’s ‘Drowning Bangladesh’) against Bangladesh to plunder our natural resources. Bangladesh is one of the richest nations on earth if it’s natural resources are tapped properly. For millions of years all of Himalayas trees and other natural resources have flowed downstream into the Bay of Bengal delta. The delta actually has huge oil and gas reserves. As in Georgia to siphon off Azerbaijan’s oil the MNCs have eyed Bangladesh’s huge reserves for exploitation. As a first step they already have installed an undemocratic unelected illegitimate government to plunder Bangladesh’s resources. They are signing PSCs as dictated by them through draconian ordinances of the current puppet government.

    I am sure the next constitutional government will scrap all these anti-Bangladesh agreements. For a well-meaning, constitutional, elected nationalist government it shouldn’t take more than 10 years to transform Bangladesh

  • Mohammad Ullah

    Have you noticed that Bangladesh and Afghanistan are the only countries in South Asia that have undemocratic, unconstitutional governments in power. Bangladesh’s one is well over it’s 90 day period mentioned in the amended constitution. It is basically a army-backed donor-blessed junta that is worse than the just ousted Musharraf and his cronies-assisted pseudodemocracy.

    Even and Nepal and Pakistan now have fully democratic governments that have demolished army’s stranglehold on democracy and overthrown West-imported monarchy in their respective countries.

    It’s sad to see the unconstitutional government in Bangladesh using terror and intimidating tactics through clandestine state apparatuses to scare politicians and businessmen to delay national parliamentary elections and thereby prolong their greed for power which they had no right to savour a day more than their 90 day period.

    I am confident it will be booted out of power soon to bring back looted democracy from the conspirators.

  • Lieberman

    The global warming theory if comes true should be addressed by those who are responsible for it. Bangladesh should not spend a dime for building dikes or anything else. These expenses should be borne on behalf of all threatened nations on coastal areas by the G8. They now have a free ride on natural resources all over the globe unchallenged. The cost should be a fraction of the booty looted by the G8 from occupied countries.

  • Leiberman, what you are suggesting is unlikely without a lengthy court case, and I would not want to be the poor peasant who is being sacrificed by others (sitting on the high ground) taking this approach, Brinkmanship is dangerous. Better to take affirmative actions and sue those responsible later.

  • Naadia

    The G8 is all-talk. I wouldn’t go that route.

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