Friday, February 02, 2007 / In depth - Bangladesh plight serves as warning to world / In depth - Bangladesh plight serves as warning to world
Excerpts :
Most parts of Bangladesh are less than 10m above sea level, so rising seas coupled with storm surges could put large parts of the population and agricultural land under threat of severe flooding.
South and east Asia, including Vietnam, Bangladesh, India and parts of China, including Shanghai, will be most vulnerable to climate change because of their large coastal populations in low-lying areas, according to the UK International Institute for Environment and Development.
Poor countries, which consume little energy per capita relative to developed countries, have historically played the smallest role in producing carbon emissions.
The average Briton, for example, produces 48 times more carbon dioxide than someone living in Bangladesh. India’s per capita annual energy consumption was just 594 kWh in 2003 compared with 14,057 kWh in the US.
But India, Bangladesh and other countries in the region, face some of the biggest threats, including melting glaciers and more severe storms, floods and droughts caused by depletion of ­glacier-fed rivers. Rising sea levels and warmer temperatures would also fuel malaria and other diseases.
Melting glaciers would increase flood risk during the wet season and sharply reduce water during the dry season to one-sixth of the world’s population living mainly in the Indian sub-continent, parts of China and the Andes in South America.
The impact on India’s agriculture, which supports 70 per cent of its population and relies on monsoon rains, would be severe. “Clearly this has global implications. Foodstocks worldwide will be under pressure,” said Mr Pachauri.
While India has a natural annual monsoon season, heavy rains in central India between 1981 and 2000 were more intense and frequent than in previous decades. “A substantial increase in hazards related to heavy rain is expected over central India in the future,” wrote a team of scientists led by B.N. Goswami of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in the December issue of the journal Science.


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