Why the World Should Be Worried About Bangladesh

Poor nation will be amongst those hardest hit by climate change

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 28, 2014 8:32 AM CDT | Updated Mar 30, 2014 7:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Bangladesh only produces 0.3% of the world's greenhouse gases. But few nations are poised to suffer more as sea levels rise due to climate change, the New York Times points out, in an in-depth piece on the nation's plight. The country is extremely flat, low, prone to cyclones and flooding, and among the world's most densely populated, with 160 million people crammed into a space less than a quarter of the size of France (which has roughly 100 million fewer people). Its sea walls are also poorly built, and because it has long relied heavily on wells—rather than its polluted rivers—for drinking water, its cities are sinking.

"There are a lot of places in the world at risk from rising sea levels, but Bangladesh is at the top of everybody's list," says one environmental policy expert. Indeed, a 2010 study named Bangladesh the country most vulnerable to climate change. And things could be worse than expected. Scientists widely predict that sea levels will rise as much as three feet by 2100, but those increases won't be evenly distributed. One scientist thinks Bangladesh could see waters rise up to 13 feet. "The reaction among Bangladeshi government officials has been to tell me that I must be wrong," he says. "That’s completely understandable, but it also means they have no hope of preparing themselves." For much more, read the full report, or read about a river that is threatening Bangladesh.

A village girl sits on a vessel as she waits with others in a queue for water supplied in tankers at an area affected by 2009's cyclone Aila in Nildumur, Bangladesh, May 14, 2010.
A village girl sits on a vessel as she waits with others in a queue for water supplied in tankers at an area affected by 2009's cyclone Aila in Nildumur, Bangladesh, May 14, 2010.   (AP Photo/Pavel Rahman)
A goat sits in a bit of land in Chakbara village, an area affected by last year's cyclone Aila in Satkhira, Bangladesh, May 14, 2010.
A goat sits in a bit of land in Chakbara village, an area affected by last year's cyclone Aila in Satkhira, Bangladesh, May 14, 2010.   (AP Photo/Pavel Rahman)
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