Sunday, January 3, 2010

"Will Bangladesh Be Around in the Year 2500?"

"Will Bangladesh Be Around in the Year 2500?" asks American climate blogger Danny Bloom

after reading very good New York Times article by Joanna Kakissis  [with the help of a grant from the International Reporting Project] and with Sumon Kaiser of contributing additional reporting here:

Two recent international newspaper articles about climate change in the far distantfuture, say 2500 or so, (titled, respectively, “How much more proof is
needed for people to act?” and “Ignoring the future — the psychology
of denial”) emphasized the importance of facing major issues that will
have an impact on the future of the human species.

Climate change is indeed an issue that is on everyone’s mind, and

while Israel seems to be far removed from the experts who recently

made their way to Copenhagen to try to hammer out blueprints to

prevent global warming from having a Doomsday impact on humankind,

The Bangladesh people will also be on the front lines of these issues. Why? Because

Bangladesh will not exist as a country by the year 2500. Everyone there

will have migrated north to Russia and Alaska.

Despite most observers’ belief that solutions lie in mitigation, there

are a growing number of climatologists and scientists who believe that

the A-word — adaptation — must be confronted head-on, too. The fact is

— despite the head-in-the-sand protestations of denialists around the world — that we cannot stop climate

change or global warming. The Earth’s atmosphere has already passed

the tipping point, and in the next 500 years, temperatures and sea

levels will rise considerably and millions, even billions, of people

from the tropical and temperate zones will be forced to migrate in

search of food, fuel and shelter. This includes the people of Bangladesh.

By the year 2500, all of Bangladesh will be largely uninhabited, except for a few

stragglers eking out a subsistence life. The rest

of the population will have migrated north to Russia’s northern coast

or northern parts of Alaska and Canada to find safe harbor from the

devastating impact of global warming.

Okay, how do I know all this, you ask? I don't know. I am just saying

that we all must be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

By the year 2500, most likely, the Bangladesh people en masse will have left the

country for faraway northern regions to find shelter in UN-funded

climate refuges in places such as Russia, Canada and Alaska. Israeli

climate refugees will join millions of others from India, Vietnam,

Thailand and the Philippines. It won’t be a pretty picture.

When I asked a professor at National Taiwan University in Taiwan if

this was a possible future scenario for Bangladesh and other nations in

Asia some 500 years from now, he said it was very possible,

and that these issues needed to be addressed now, if only as a thought

exercise, and even if it all sounded like a science fiction movie

script. When I asked acclaimed British scientist James Lovelock if

such a scenario for Bangladesh was likely, he said to me in an e-mail: “It

may very well happen, yes.”

We humans cannot engineer our way out of global warming, although

scientists who believe in geo-engineering have offered theories on how

to do it. There are no easy fixes. Humankind has pumped too many

greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the result of the industrial

revolution that gave us trains, planes, automobiles and much more,

enabling us to live comfortable and trendy lives — and now there is so

much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that the Earth cannot recover.

Bangladesh, like the rest of the world, is doomed to a bleak future full

of billions of climate refugees seeking shelter in the far north, and

in places like New Zealand, Tasmania and Antarctica in the far south.

Meetings in Copenhagen and Rio de Janeiro and at the UN in Manhattan

will not stop global warming.

What we need to focus on now is preparing future generations for what

our world will become in the next 500 years and how best to survive


For the next 100 to 200 years or so, life will go on as normal in

Bangladesh in terms of climate change and global warming issues. There is

nothing to worry about now.

But in the next 500 years, according to Lovelock and other scientists

who are not afraid to think outside the box and push the envelope,

things are going to get bad. Unspeakably bad.

Those of us who are alive today won’t suffer, and the next few

generations will be fine, too. The big trouble will probably start

around 2200 — and last for some 300 years or so.

By 2500, the nation of Bangladesh will be history, as will all the other nations of Asia,

Africa, the Americas and Europe.

We are entering uncharted waters, and as the waters rise and the

temperatures go up, future generations will have some important

choices to make: where to live, how to live, how to grow food, how to

power their climate refugee settlements, how to plan and how to pray.


Danny Bloom is a writer based in Taiwan where he blogs daily

about climate change and global warming at his "Northwardho" blog.

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