Ashar Chor, an island that’s part of the desperately poor nation of Bangladesh, is literally drowning, as rising seas eat away at the shore. Within 25 to 30 years, according to GlobalPost, the island could be gone.
“Ten years ago we lived three kilometers farther out to what is now sea, but now we have to move our houses back once or twice a year as the sea takes more of the island,” according to Deb Mondol, described in the GlobalPost report as someone who has worked on the island for 15 years.
The GlobalPost report consists mainly of a photo essay by Khaled Hasan, who provides graphic evidence of Ashar Chor’s watery fate. But the island is far from being the only part of Bangladesh being affected by global warming. Earlier this year, Anuj Chopra wrote in U.S. News & World Report that Bangladesh’s fresh water is being contaminated by sea water, ruining drinking-water supplies and rice paddies.
Bangladesh has been identified by the Global Climate Risk Index as the country most threatened by climate change. But unlike rising industrial powerhouses like China and India, whose output of carbon dioxide rivals that of the United States, Bangladesh contributes very little to global warming. In 2008 Fakhruddin Ahmed, the then-head of Bangladesh’s interim government, was quoted in the Guardian:
There is every reason to feel angry and upset. The least developed are suffering the most. It is unfair. We are suffering the most from climate change, but we did not contribute [to it] at all. We are prepared to do our part, but we require, and demand, access to a large amount of investment, resources and technologies that will be needed to adapt.
According to GlobalPost, Bangladesh has asked that the industrialized countries reduce their CO2 emissions by as much as 40 percent over the next 15 years — a goal that is almost certainly unattainable. Yet if the reduction is not achieved, Ashar Chor may disappear. And the suffering of Bangladesh will grow.