In Low-Lying Bangladesh, The Sea Takes a Human Toll
Danish photographer and filmmaker Jonathan Bjerg Møller recently spent nine months in Bangladesh, chronicling the lives of people struggling to survive just a few feet above sea level. He traveled to the South Asian nation after hearing projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change about the millions of climate refugees that would be created this century by rising seas and more powerful storms. Møller wanted to put a human face on this issue, and decided there was no better place than Bangladesh, where 15 million of its 160 million people live less than three feet above sea level.
While he was in Bangladesh, Cyclone Aila struck, killing roughly 200 people and leaving thousands homeless. Møller proceeded to document the devastation from that 2009 storm, as well the impact of subsiding land and rising seas on other Bangladeshis, many of whom earn less than $1 a day. In this Yale Environment 360 report, we present two videos by Møller – “Aila’s Victims” and “Wahidul’s Story.”
Møller says he will leave it up to scientists to determine how much of the suffering he portrays is related to a warming climate. “I am not a scientist and I know that global warming is a contentious issue,” he says. “I wanted to focus on the people who are suffering today. The point is that these people are vulnerable today, and will become even more vulnerable in the future.”
A Bangladeshi man who is the subject of one of his videos, Wahidul, lives in the town of Kuziartek, which was once home to 40,000 people. Now, the island on which Kuziartek was located is underwater. All that is left of Kuziartek is a small embankment rising from the sea, 2 ½ miles out in the Bay of Bengal. Seven families remain there, including Wahidul’s, clinging to a disappearing strip of earth.
“But what can we do,” asks Wahidul, fearful that abandoning his village would leave him homeless in a city slum. “We have an unfortunate fate. There are many people in the world, but I doubt that anyone must suffer as much as me. People shouldn't live where we live, but we have no choice. We have to live here.”
28 Jan 2010
Coping With Climate Change:
Which Societies Will Do Best?
As the world warms, how different societies fare in dealing with rising seas and changing weather patterns will have as much to do with political, social, and economic factors as with a changing climate, science writer Gaia Vince says.
Adaptation Emerges as Key Part
of Any Climate Change Plan
After years of reluctance, scientists and governments are now looking to adaptation measures as critical for confronting the consequences of climate change. And increasingly, Bruce Stutz reports, plans are being developed to deal with rising seas, water shortages, and other realities of a warming world.
How High Will Seas Rise?
Get Ready for Seven Feet
As governments, businesses, and homeowners plan for the future, they should assume that the world’s oceans will rise by at least two meters — roughly seven feet — this century. But far too few agencies or individuals are preparing for the inevitable increase in sea level that will take place as polar ice sheets melt.
Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy
of Mountaintop Removal Mining
During the last two decades, mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia has destroyed or severely damaged more than a million acres of forest and buried nearly 2,000 miles of streams. This video, produced by Yale Environment 360
, offers a first-hand look at mountaintop removal and what is at stake for Appalachia’s environment and its people.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
, winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest, documents the work of African researchers monitoring wildlife in Uganda's remote Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Watch the video.