Sea Level Rise And Climate Change

Bangladesh is one of the countries most vulnerable to a rise in sea level. Estimates for future sea level rise vary from 3.2-43.3 in. (8-110 cm.) by the end of the century. A rise of 9.8 in. (25 cm.) or more in relative sea level would displace many residents of the delta region of the Ganges from their homes and livelihoods, while a 39 in. (1 m.) sea-level rise could inundate 11.5 percent of the land of Bangladesh. Extreme predictions of a 1 m. rise in the Bay of Bengal are that the Ganges Delta would lose 12-18 percent of its land. Loss of land (especially agricultural land) could be devastating, along with the displacement of coastal villages and people by severe flooding.

Seasonal flooding could increase and last longer, with higher sea levels decreasing the rate of drainage and increase the salinity of ground water. Also, as sea surface temperature rises, the ocean area capable of spawning tropical cyclones is expected to increase. Tidal waves during cyclones are likely to become more severe, as well. Climate change could translate into migration to urban areas or inland from the lowlands of the delta area. With transient populations, stress on sewage and waste systems could increase the spread of communicable diseases.

Warmer temperatures would increase the incidence of heat-related illnesses and lead to higher concentrations of ground-level ozone pollution causing respiratory illnesses and increasing risk of contracting certain infectious diseases from water contamination or disease-carrying vectors, especially for the malnourished. Flooding and storm surges associated with sea-level rise could increase the incidence of water-borne diseases, putting stress on limited health services.

In October 2001, Bangladesh ratified the Kyoto Protocol, an international and legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide that took effect on February 16, 2005. Strategies implemented to improve environmental conditions and human-induced climate change include assessment of the potential impact of climate change. Bangladesh began a National Conservation Strategy Implementation Project, assessed implementation of Agenda 21, established the Bangladesh Wetlands Network, conducted the case study "Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) Barriers to Trade and Its Impact on the Environment of Shrimp Farming in Bangladesh," established the International Dialogue on Water and Climate, completed the project design for "Integrating Economic Values into Protected Area Management in South Asia—Bangladesh Country Component" in collaboration with the Ecosystems and Livelihood Group (ELG), and executed another regional project titled "Sustainable Livelihood, Environmental Security and Conflict Management."

SEE ALSO: Climate Change, Effects; Hurricanes and Typhoons; Sea Level, Rising.

bibliography. World Conservation Union, "Dialogue on Water and Climate in Bangladesh," www.iucnbd.org (cited September 2007); Worldwatch Institute, Vital Signs 20062007 (W.W. Norton, 2006).

LYN MlCHAUD Independent Scholar

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