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Impact Of Climate Change On Bangladesh Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 2705 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The world is undergoing a broad set of global changes, like changes in population density, climate, resource use, land use, biodiversity, and urbanization and globalization processes. Climate change is one of the drivers of global change, which has over the years been received strong focus by scientists, policy-makers and leaders of the world (Vitousek, 1994). At present climate change is considered as emerging global threat that not only induces physical environmental impacts but also affects the social structures, economic factors and the overall development process (Birkmann, 2010). This emerging threat has introduced a new social community named ‘Climate Refugee’ especially for the affected developing nations. The UN currently states that more refugees are displaced by environmental catastrophes than wars, and the number of the climate refugee is more than 25 million which is likely to become 50 million in coming decades (Meyers, 2002). Out of those 25 million people about 10 million are from Africa who are directly affected by the climate change via droughts. The second largest group is from coastal areas of Asian countries, who are affected by natural disasters like cyclones, storm surges, floods, salinity and droughts (Anon, 2010).

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The cumulative effects of climate change exacerbate food and water insecurity, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem, environmental degradation and human insecurity through social conflict, political conflict and violence in the affected developing countries (Adger and Kelly, 1999). Hence, the socioeconomic structures are undermined in these countries where the affected people are compelled to switch over occupations for livelihood. These are the people who can no longer ensure a secured livelihood in their origin of dwelling (Mayers, 2002). Together with climate change effects, population pressure problem and hardcore poverty have induced a notable change in the whole economic structure of these countries. As a result, these countries are suffered from chronic socio-economic inequality and social instability (Barnett, 2007).

Bangladesh often makes top news all over the world. However, unlike most other countries, it is not because of politics but for devastating natural catastrophes causing huge death tolls and massive destruction. This South Asian LDC, since her independence in 1971, has been struggling with a number of socioeconomic and socio-political problems such as- rapid population growth, poverty, illiteracy, gender disparity, slow economic growth, institutional inertia, political instability, violence and so on. But from last two decades she started struggling with a new problem- the adverse effects of climate change in the form of natural disasters (Miliband, 2009). Over the last two decades these disasters have become regular phenomena contributed miserable suffering to millions of inhabitants who are vulnerable to the climatic shocks (GoB, 2005). In other words, climate risk for Bangladesh is relatively higher than most other countries of the world. The Global Climate Risk Index prepared by Germanwatch shows that Bangladesh is at top of the ranking of most affected countries by climatic extreme events over the last two decades. Table 1.1 shows the overall ranking made by Germanwatch.

that the most common disasters are flood and cyclone. Recent IPCC assessment reports (TAR, 2001 and AR4, 2007) also reveal that over the last two decades both of the above-mentioned disaster-events have become more frequent and devastating for Bangladesh. It is learnt from IPCC reports that 5-10% increase in wind speed is very lik

On basis of above-mentioned table, it is easy to apprehend why Bangladesh was cited numerous occasions in COP15 held in Copenhagen in 2009. At present this country is more likely to exposed towards climatic extreme events than most of the countries in the world (UNFCCC, 2009). These events, in form of natural disasters range from ravaging cyclones to devastating floods (Muhammad, 2007). Following Table 1.2 provides an overall idea on most devastating disasters occurred in Bangladesh since early twentieth century. This table shows

likely during the cyclone-season in Bangladesh that would eventually enhance storm surge and coastal flooding, while 10-20% increases of wind intensity can cause floods both in coast and inlands as the cyclone makes land fall (Agarwala, 2003). It has been assessed that an increase of 2° C temperature and a 0.3 m sea level rise would cause a cyclone in the costal belt of Bangladesh as strong as cyclone of 1991; furthermore, such a cyclone is likely to result in a 1.5 m higher storm surge that may inundate 20% more land than 1991 cyclone (Ali, 1996). The most recent example of costal cyclone as possible effect of climate change is SIDR which battered the coastal belt in Bangladesh on 15th November 2007. The wind speed was about 220 to 240 km/hour and at least 3,113 people were known dead and more than 10,000 were missing; the damage due to this disaster had been around US$ 2.3 million (EMDAT, 2009). The intensity of SIDR was not less than the 1991 cyclone in some part of the coastal areas and the impact was even more than that. Furthermore, on 27th May 2009, another devastating cyclone named AILA hit the South-western part of Bangladesh and West Bengal of India, which exacerbated the suffering for the affected people in Bangladesh; although an early warning system enabled the evacuation of an estimated 2.7 million people to higher ground and cyclone shelter-houses (BBC, 2009). It is predicted that a single meter rise of sea level would inundate more than 18% of the coastal belt and will affect 11% of the total country’s population. Two-third of the whole country is only 10 m above the sea level; therefore, about 13 million of the total population may likely to be homeless and become environmental refugees as the victim of climate changing process (Huq et al, 1999). Khulna and Barisal, the costal divisions of Bangladesh are relatively disaster-prone, where about 3.2 million people are at risk and about one-eighth of the country’s agricultural lands and more than 8,000 communication networks are likely to be affected due to climate change effects (Parvin, 2010).

1.2 Statement of the problem

About one third of the territory of Bangladesh is delimited as coastal areas which are combined of distinctive opportunities, diversified threats and vulnerabilities (HarunOrRashid, 2009). It is because coastal areas possess different geo-physical and environmental characteristics that distinguish the coastal zone from rest of the country. These distinctive characteristics are interplay of tidal regime, salinity in soil and water, cyclone and storm surge; with economic and social implications on the population (PDO-ICZMP, 2003). Hence, such identical geo-physical pattern has introduced a completely different livelihood pattern, where people are involved with selected coastal economic activities like fishing, salt production, fry collection from the sea and resource collection from the adjacent mangrove forest (Ahmed, 2003, Islam, 2004).

Although the coastal areas are much more fertile land for agricultural production, these areas are relatively income-poor compared to the rest of the country. Average per capita GDP (at current market price) in the coastal zone was US$ 402 in 2008, compared to US$ 621 for the whole country on average (GoB, 2009; CDP, 2009). There are ten different ethnic communities living in the coastal zones and they have complete different cultures and livelihood patterns. Along with the nontribal people, those ethnic communities completely depend on the coastal natural resources for their livelihood (Kamal, 2001). Their despair and dream, plight and struggle, vulnerability and resilience are uniquely revolved round in an intricate ecological and social setting which make their livelihoods distinctive from other parts of the country to a considerable extent.

The Government of Bangladesh has already recognized coastal zone as areas of enormous potentials. In contrast, these areas are lagging behind in socio-economic development and vulnerable to different natural disasters and environmental degradation (Sevaraju, 2006). For a LDC like Bangladesh where the climate change takes a shape of natural disaster not only affects the socio-economic condition of coastal communities but also hinders obtaining an optimal GDP growth (ADPC, 2007). Climate change poses a significant threat for Bangladesh, particularly the projected climate change effects include sea level rise, higher temperature, enhanced monsoon precipitation and run-off, potentially reduced dry season precipitation and increase in cyclone intensity in this region (Agrawala, 2003). Those threats would induce serious impediments to the socioeconomic development of Bangladesh including coastal areas. A subjective ranking of key climate change effects for coastal Bangladesh identifies cyclone and sea level rise as being of the highest priority in terms of severity, certainty and urgency of impact (Parvin, 2009).

National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA) and other scholars have identified the coastal areas of Bangladesh as one of the most affected areas in the world due to the threats of climate change effects (GoB 2005). In the southwestern part of Bangladesh the physical isolation of coastal communities makes them highly resource-dependent available around the coast and adjacent mangrove forest (the Sundarbans), which reduces their opportunities to access to alternative livelihoods indeed. These hindrances make the coastal communities vulnerable to any disruption, especially to natural catestrophes. As a result, households in coastal communities suffer from imbalance of social and economic powers, lack of participation in decision-making, limited or zero asset ownership, and laws and regulations influencing people’s ability to use assets or access to resources (Pomeroy et al., 2006).

1.3 Justification of the study

There are only a few number of studies have been conducted on coastal Bangladesh. These studies are mainly conducted on hazard warning and evacuation system (Paul and Dutt, 2010), health security due to disaster (Ray-Bennet et al., 2010), physical injuries during cyclones (Paul, 2009), and coastal hazards and community-coping method (Parvin, 2009). So, most of these studies focused on the coping and adaptation mechanisms in coastal areas. However, we hardly find any study that addressed the socioeconomic vulnerability in local level of coastal zone, especially in the southwestern part of Bangladesh. Hence, without identifying local-level vulnerability pattern the suggested coping or adaptation mechanism is likely to be least effective in reality. In this study we attempt to fill up the knowledge gap by identifying quantitative local-level vulnerability at first; then we try to look for optimal adaptation options based on empirical relationship between vulnerability and important socioeconomic parameters. We selected Koyra upazila as our study area, which one of the most disaster-prone areas in southwestern coastal zone of Bangladesh.

1.4 Research questions and objectives of the study

Considering all the above-mentioned facts, we proceed with the discovery of logical answers of following research questions;

What is the symptom of climate change in the study area?

Which major climatic factors constitute for climate change here?

Which factors exacerbate such vulnerability? Is there any single factor or multiple factors?

What is the nature and magnitude of relationship between this vulnerability and socioeconomic factors in the study area?

What are the possible adaptation options in terms of capacity for the vulnerable households in study area?

The above-mentioned research questions are addressed by the study objectives. Hence, the main study objectives are;

To understand and figure out the manifestation of climate change in the study area,

To quantify socioeconomic vulnerability and assess the nature and magnitude of the relationship between vulnerability and major socioeconomic parameters of the study area, and

To identify and recommend the optimal adaptation options in terms of capacity of households in the study area while addressing socioeconomic vulnerability.

1.5 Outline of this study

This study consists of nine chapters. Let us have a glimpse at the brief contents of all the chapters chronologically.

Chapter one is introduction. It provides an overall scenario on Bangladesh’s status in relations with climate change effects. We briefly discuss about the problem statement and then we identify the possible knowledge gap of socioeconomic vulnerability in the study area. We conclude this chapter by mentioning a number of research questions, which are addressed by three main objectives of this study.

In Chapter two we focus on the theoretical background and theoretical framework for this study. Under theoretical background we mention and briefly discuss relevant literatures in accordance with our study objectives. Then we depict the theoretical framework for this study, which is used for quantifying socioeconomic vulnerability of the study area.

We mention about the methodology of this study in Chapter three. In this chapter we focus on types of research that we have adopted in this study. Then in accordance with study objectives we mention associated data type, collection techniques and data sources. We also mention the sampling method and sampling size. The construction of vulnerability index is discussed in this chapter. Finally we conclude by mentioning the impediments those we faced while accomplishing this study.

Chapter four deals with the description of study area Koyra. We mention important information about geographical location, administration, topographic, physiographic and socioeconomic condition. We include a ‘Disaster Calendar’ for our study area that we made by collecting information from households.

Chapter five deals with identification of climate change effects and quantification of socioeconomic vulnerability at local level of study area. In this we show possible climate change effects in the study area based on empirical data and Focus Group Discussion (FGD) findings. Later we quantify vulnerability for each union by applying the Vulnerability Index. We show union-wise vulnerability with the help of maps.

Once we have quantified vulnerability, we conduct a number of econometric analyses in Chapter six in order to show relationship between vulnerability and important socioeconomic parameters of study area. We mention the major findings from analyses in two different tables. We also put brief explanation of models and variables used in this study.

In Chapter seven we discuss the major findings obtained from model analyses in elaborated way. Here we also mention the possible reasons behind the nature and extent of relationship between vulnerability and socioeconomic parameters of study area. At the end of this chapter we check the consistency of vulnerability index by applying an alternative approach. Subsequent regression coefficients of alternative approach are also tested and compared with the old model results.

Based on the results of relationship mentioned in chapter six and seven; we recommend the optimal adaptation options for the affected people through brief description in Chapter eight. We also draw few of our recommendations on basis of correlation between different variables. The existing adaptation options in study area are also mentioned in Chapter eight.

We conclude this study in Chapter nine. We summarize major findings from this study in a nut shell. Besides, we focus on shortcomings of the approach we used to quantify vulnerability. In fine we mention the issues that we did not address in this study where further research can be conducted.


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