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Why Kalboishakhi came early this year

  • Published at 11:12 pm April 17th, 2019
STORM
PHOTO: MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU

Climate change is real, and it’s here

The Kalboishakhi storm is one of the main indicators of the arrival of the Bengali New Year, or “Pohela Boishakh” in Bangladesh. 

Pohela Boishakh marks the beginning of the New Year, and the beginning of summer. The Kalboishakhi storm happening earlier may very well indicate that summer is arriving earlier in Bangladesh. The scientific research on Bangladesh is sparse, but climate change being a global phenomenon, a lot can be inferred from the research that is based on other areas of the world.

According to scientific records and media reports, summer is arriving earlier every year in Europe as well. The early occurrence of the Kalboishakhi this year in Bangladesh may indicate the same thing happening here. The implications of this are major -- it means that climate change is no longer the big bad thing in the future, but something that is happening right now. It is here, and knocking at our doorstep.

Most articles on climate change published in the Western media include suggestions on what the reader can do to combat climate change. This makes sense, because even though climate change can be natural, what we are facing now is human-induced climate change. 

But does this same idea apply to the average Bangladeshi reader? If the main reason behind climate change is the greenhouse gas emissions caused by industrialization, surely Bangladesh, being such a young and small country, has had little to do with that.

Bangladesh has contributed a minuscule percentage of the greenhouse gases that are present in the atmosphere today, but it is one of the countries that are at greatest risk from climate change. The developed countries of the world that are responsible for the industrial age and subsequent global warming have had their chance to develop and prosper, and will no doubt feel the brunt of climate change, but so will we. 

A small nation that has faced so many atrocities will face more.

Climate change is going to bring many disasters to Bangladesh. Farmers will suffer as crop production is affected by untimely storms and frequent floods. River erosion, which is already common in Bangladesh, will become more frequent. 

Many people will become displaced, and this will lead to a growing number of “climate change refugees.” As evidenced by the Rohingya crisis, no country (except maybe Bangladesh) wants a large number of refugees. It can be said that moving Bangladeshi climate change refugees overseas will not be an option. Therefore, we can look forward to more overcrowding of already overcrowded areas.

The current Bangladeshi government has done a lot to secure funds to help us combat climate change.

There is nothing we can do to stop climate change at this point, but we can make the best of the funds and resources available to us in order to help mitigate the effects of climate change. 

Many disaster-prone areas of Bangladesh have evacuation plans in place for residents, which help to reduce casualties. Such work needs to continue, as disaster-preparedness is the only thing that can make the future better for all Bangladeshis. 

With many countries opting for green energy and international funds being channeled to countries like Bangladesh, it is not all doom and gloom.

There are steps that can be taken to minimize the effects of climate change. It is now a matter of taking them with efficiency and speed. 

Something as small as the early arrival of Kalboishakhi can indicate that urgent action is necessary. More scientific research on this matter is also required, as in the swift communication of such information on mass media. 

Proma Gulshan is Editorial Assistant at the Dhaka Tribune.