Climate Change: Effect on Bangladesh

Climate Change: Effect on Bangladesh


December 15, 2020

Once, Earth was green and blue and pure and untainted. Yes, for 79 million years, the Cretaceous Period was a time of absolute glory and dangerous stillness, and a place where only large and mysterious creatures existed. Alas, we can never see the exuberant foliage, crystal clear oceans or the rich ecosystems because one fateful day a kill switch was activated.

Almost suddenly and swiftly, asteroids pounded the globe with a fury that resulted in an overnight mass extinction of three-quarters of the planet. For the dinosaurs it was a rapid succession of unexpected events which destroyed the world, but now after almost 100 million years the Earth is once again on the verge of a catastrophe. However, this time, our doom will not be rocks from space but by our own hands.

What is Climate change?

Climate change is the change in the pattern of weather, and related changes in oceans, land surfaces and ice sheets, occurring over time. This means rise in temperature has forced a change in climate which has resulted in ice caps to melt, sea levels to rise etc.

Our success to lengthen human life expectancy has led to exponential population growth which combined with the increased environmental footprint per capita has pushed many core variables for Earth to function (e.g. biodiversity, nitrogen cycle, climate change) out of safety limits. Overpopulation has caused the limits of sustainable exploitation to be crossed which has resulted in catastrophic problems.

Causes of Climate Change:

Actions like the burning of fossil fuels, cutting down rainforests (deforestation) and pollution of air, water and land have proven to be dangerous. The greenhouse effect caused by the burning of fossil fuels and excessive use of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) has led to dangerous levels of global warming. Major contributors like carbon dioxide and CFCs trap the heat of the sun which warms the atmosphere and increases the global temperature.

Deforestation also reduces the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by trees which adds into rising temperatures. Agriculture and livestock farming also play a huge role as fertilizers using nitrogen produce larger amounts of nitrous oxide emissions, while cows and sheep produce large amounts of methane both of these gases have profound impact on the climate.

Since the 19th century, Earth’s average temperature has risen about 1.1 °C. If the world temperature rises by two degrees, mountain glaciers and rivers will start to disappear and mountainous regions will see more landslides. By 2100, sea levels could rise by a meter, displacing 10% of the world's population.

The World Meteorological Organization ranked 2019 second warmest for the globe. To most people our soon to be reality is make-belief, but educated scientists warned us that our actions have damaged the global environment beyond repair.


Located in the southern edge of the world’s largest tropical mass just north of the Bay of Bengal exists a small country with a rather large population of 161.4 million called Bangladesh.

Fertile lands and the perfect climate have afforded the country with growth unparalleled to any other. However, rising temperatures have threatened the delicate balance which the country hangs on. Bangladesh’s total area of 147,570 sq. km. consists mostly of flood plains (almost 80%) which leaves major parts of the country prone to flooding during the rainy season.Two-thirds of Bangladesh is less than five metres above sea level. 28% of the population of Bangladesh lives on the coast, which is vulnerable to tidal floods caused by sea level rise.

Climate experts predict that by 2050, rising sea levels will submerge 17% of the nation's land and displace 20 million people. Other adverse effects of climate change includes high temperature, sea level rise, cyclones and storm surges, etc which has aggravated the overall economic development.

According to an April UNICEF report, 19 million Bangladeshi children are at risk from climate change disasters such as floods and cyclones.

Impacts of Global Warming

The melting of polar ice and glaciers in ice-covered regions across the globe is the principal reason behind the global ‘sea-level rise’. The Antarctic, the Himalayas and other regions are melting at alarming rates. Thus water consequently flows into seas and oceans of the world, raising eventually the sea-level globally with every passing day.

In the Himalayan glaciers' loss of ice is accelerating with rising temperatures— equivalent to more than a vertical foot and half of ice each year—from 2000 to 2016.

Due to this trend of rising sea-level, countries with low-lying landscapes such as Bangladesh become prone to two types of unpleasant disasters:

  1. Intensified floods

  2. Super storms

Intensified Floods

Water flows downstream from the Himalayas in Nepal all the way to the riverine country, Bangladesh where it eventually flows into the Bay of Bengal. However, the millions of tonnes of water exceeds channel capacity, overflows banks and floods adjacent low-lying areas. Most of the population in the flood affected areas lives on subsistence agriculture and poultry. The facts that farmland crops and domestic animals, major sources of income in the affected areas, are lost to the flood water are added to their already vulnerable condition and economic instability.

Continuous ‘sea-level rise’ has serious implications for Bangladesh, with the likelihood of submerging 6% to 8% of the ‘flood-prone’ country by 2030.

Super Storms

The South Asian nation of 160 million has endured 70 storms between 1990 and 2018. Climate change affects coastal flooding through sea level rise and storm surge, and increases in heavy rainfall during storms. Coastal floods predominantly caused by storm surges accompany hurricanes and other storms.

Storm surge causes deaths, widespread infrastructure damage, and severe soil erosion. Erosion of chars (islands) by flooding rivers causes landlessness amongst Bangladesh's poorest. Storm-related rainfall can also cause inland flooding and is responsible for more than half of the deaths associated with tropical storms.

Cyclone Fani, Bulbul and Amphan hit Bangladesh earlier this year. Cyclone Amphan made landfall accompanied by high-speed winds and torrential rain. It destroyed homes and crops, uprooted trees, submerged vast tracts of land and snapped power and communication lines in Bangladesh. It’s devastation has left 10 million people affected and 500,000 people without homes.

“The UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sunderban an ecologically fragile biosphere reserve had their embankments breached and incurred irretrievable losses where millions of species were affected”

Moreover, over 1 million Rohingya refugees that live in the overcrowded and underfunded camps in Cox’s Bazaar have to pay the cost of the super cyclone. Transient makeshift communal housings on unstable terrains have suffered spread of water-borne diseases and thus have become centers of death.

No planet B

Climate change will continue to adversely impact Bangladesh and with every year more people will become a victim of poverty. Due to the increasing frequency of the super storms communities all throughout Bangladesh are in constant danger.

Therefore, we have to acknowledge the dangerous position we are placed in because of climate change and for this reason we have to move forward with actions of both innovative mitigation and active involvement to make our environment sustainable. In other words, we all have to do our part to ensure the survival of not only Bangladesh but Earth as a whole because after all there is no Planet B.

Nameeda Elmi
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Writer since Jul, 2020 · 6 published articles

Nameeda Elmi is a high school student from Dhaka, Bangladesh. In her free time, she enjoys to read classic novels, watch Netflix shows and browse through Instagram’s ‘for you page’.