Destroyer of All Pleasure

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One morning, I entered the living room, rubbing my eyes and trying to see the television screen clearly. What was it that made my mother’s eyes fill with anxiety and sorrow? Headline flashed across the screen, “South-eastern region of Bangladesh hit by tropical cyclone.” It caused many casualties and people lost their homes and properties. It was really painful watching them cry. No amount of money or aid provided by the government could return what they lost.

Today it was them. Tomorrow it could be me.

Bangladesh is a flat and low-lying landscape. It is prone to natural disasters. With the climate rapidly changing, the risk of being hit by a natural disaster has increased.

I was taught about floods, cyclones and droughts in school. My knowledge about natural disasters and climate change was limited to that, just some theories on a text book. Never did I think how real and dire the situation actually is until this morning, when I saw the news. 

Especially a country like Bangladesh, which is predominantly agricultural with two-thirds of the population engaged in farming or agro-based industrial activity mainly. Climate change not only increases the risk of natural disasters but it declines crop yield as well. Extreme temperatures, untimely rainfall, salinity intrusion all these factors result in lower crop yield. Change in seasonal cycles also affect crop yield.

Even the water resources are being affected due to this environmental issue. Salinity has increased in freshwater lakes. The surface water is widely used in irrigation, fishery and industrial production. The salty water would ravage the crops. The abundance of fishes in the water bodies would soon decrease if no action is taken.

According to a recent statistic, yields from rainfed agriculture could be reduced to 50% by 2020.  If the main sources of food production are diminished, it not only reduces the availability of food for the millions of people living here but also will lead to unemployment as the fish farmers and crop cultivators suffer extreme loss.

The entire population of the country depends on this food. All the factors that make our country unique would be destroyed. Statistics show that around 30 million people living in coastal areas in Bangladesh could become homeless due to climate change impacts. 

The effects of climate change do not end here. With the country being less than 10 meters above sea level, the coastal areas are prone to high tides and storm surges. 15% of its land area could be lost under sea water.

Natural disasters could reduce the biodiversity of the forests ecosystem. The Sundarbans , the world’s largest mangrove forest which is a world heritage and the pride of every Bangladeshi is likely to be affected the most.

Initiatives must be taken by the government and influential people to develop programs which would help to tackle these problems. New policies should be made and its implementation should start soon. If these problems remain unattended soon the whole country would be under water. International funding should be put to good use. I know it is easier said than done. But with proper planning and the right people involved anything could be achieved.

It is essential to take precautionary measures to protect the land and people along the coast. Bangladesh is a developing country. If a severe cyclone hits the tropical regions or any other major disaster takes place it will be even harder for us to get back and built what we lost.

There is no real solution when it comes to global warming and climate change. But what all we should be trying to do is to aim towards the mitigation of adverse impacts  that has the potential to knock us off of our feet.

This place I call home may not be there for my grandchildren to see or call it their own. The feeling of helplessness and insignificance is great when I realize that we were the root of this problem and today how we are failing to protect this beautiful Earth we were gifted with. How strange is it that we are destroying this only planet which sustains life, in order to have a short term illusion of a better and easier lifestyle.

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I am an introvert and very weak at socializing. Once someone gets to know me I think I can be fun. It is easier for me to express myself through writing as I often find it difficult to converse with people who are not the closest to me. I have always loved reading. Of course not the "finish an entire book in two days" type but at the pace which suits my schedule best.

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