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Bangladesh Diary – letter 1

Posted by Lindy on January 23, 2011

Bangladesh Diary will appear  regularly over the coming weeks. Why? Because it is one of the remaining case studies we need to look at – an example of a country under threat from climate change

The Economics of Global Warming

Key points:

  • Need to reduce climate change
  • Need to help poor countries cope
  • Worst impact is rising sea levels
  • Most likely impact food production – especially in poor countries where more people depend on production


2 million people live on less than $2 a day – these depend on food production. If half of them  lost half their income, it would only cost the world $365 billion a year – a mere 1% of world GDP – but to them disaster

Key points:

  • In HICs agriculture makes up 5% of GDP, and many HICs may benefit from climate change.
  • World incomes will rise as will population
  • Need for meat will rise with development
  • 1 calorie of meat uses 4 -10 calories of feed – this will lead to higher feed prices, so the rich may eat a little less
  • It will also lead to rice/wheat prices rising – a disaster for the poor.
  • Glacier melt may appear to be a problem, but that is not really the issue. The precipitation is still there, but coming as rain, it is not stored for the spring melt, but falls and runs off when the crops are not in the ground. This means the spring flood is not there for irrigation, a serious problem in SE Asia for example.
  • Climate change will be primarily a threat to the poor in poor countries.
  • Understanding this may make it hard to persuade the non-poor in the developed world to take the problem seriously.

Maybe we should not be saying this!

Hasina’s call

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is calling on the developed countries to make a carbon-free world. For her climate change is no distant threat but an ever-present reality.

Bangladesh is especially vulnerable to climate change because of geographic exposure,

  • low incomes, and
  • greater reliance on climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture.
  • Climate-related disasters such as floods, droughts, and tropical storms are increasing in Bangladesh along with frequent depression in the Bay of Bengal.
Future impacts

Sea level rise is of grave concern to a developing country like Bangladesh with a vast, low-lying, densely-populated deltaic coast. One metre sea-level rise will inundate about one-fifth area of Bangladesh which will displace 25-30 million people – equivalent ot half the UK population.


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