Thursday, 9 February 2012

Climate Change in Bangladesh

Every Wednesday morning the members of the Joint Public Issues Team gather together for a team meeting, to plan, learn, reflect and decide. Sometimes we are joined by guests who can help us in our thinking and understanding.
Today we were joined by Joyanta Adhikari, a Baptist from Bangladesh, who was visiting the UK as part of a visit to support Commitment for Life, the URC’s partner with Christian Aid.  He was also invited to speak at a meeting at the Church of England General Synod at which the Archbishop of Canterbury was present. 
Mr Adhikari also is the Executive Director of Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB) as well as the President of the National Council of Churches Bangladesh.
He spoke about the impact that the visible changes in Bangladesh’s climate are having on its population.
Seawater now comes 100 miles inland, as opposed to the 20 miles of a few years ago. The “saline intrusion” of the soil means that land is less fertile.
The length of the winter season has shortened to just two months and there has been an increase in the number and intensity of cyclones.
If the sea level was to rise by just 1.5m 16% of the total land of Bangladesh would be underwater, and 17 million people would have to move from the southern part of the country, adding to the number of people already displaced by the impact of climate change.
CCDB is supporting a variety of adaptation ideas which will help people to survive, such as the development of saline and drought resistant crops. The government, however, is often attracted to the large scale construction projects, such as building embankments, rather than the small scale piecemeal adaptation measures which will directly, and quickly, improve people’s livelihoods.
Mr Adhikari said that climate change is a justice issue because it is the poor who are being most affected, and who are losing their lives and livelihoods today.
As we approach the season of Lent, when we reflect on what we need to take up or put down in our lives, I will be challenged by Joyanta Adhikari’s words: “In the beautiful world that God has given us, there is enough to meet our need, but not our greed”.