The misery of Bangladesh

Robert D. Kaplan has a nack for reporting on the hell holes of the world. (See his End of the Earth in my book list). To gauge the effects of climate change and sea level rise he goes to the most threatened place–Bangladesh–to report for Atlantic (“Waterworld“).

(…) With 150 million people packed together at sea level, Bangladesh is vulnerable to the slightest climatic variation, never mind the changes caused by global warming. The partial melting of Greenland ice over the course of the 21st century could inundate a substantial amount of Bangladesh with salt water. A 20-centimeter rise in the Bay of Bengal by 2030 could be devastating to more than 10 million people, says Atiq Rahman, executive director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies.

While scholars debate the odds of such scenarios, one thing is certain: Bangladesh is the most likely spot on the planet for one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes in history. The country’s future, however, and the fate of its impoverished millions, will be determined not necessarily by rising sea levels, but by their interaction with, among other things, the growth of religious fundamentalism, the behavior of its neighbors and other outside powers, and the evolution of democracy. (…)

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