Bangladesh's future environment: under a dark cloud?

Siam Sarower Jamil | Published: 00:00, Jul 28,2019

Siam Sarower Jamil, Environment Pollution, Sound Pollution, Green-House Effect, River Erosion, Environmental Refugee, Deforestation, High Temperature, Maldives, Qatar, Sri-Lanka, Plastic Pollution, Industralisation, Migrating Birds

Greta Thurberg, an adolescent Swedish environmental activist started protesting outside the Swedish parliament in August 2018 demanding immediate actions to curb effects of climate change. By the March of 2019, 1.5 million students across 112 countries joined the cause by showing solidarity to her protests. —Newscientiest

In the last couple of centuries, humans have exploited the nature in every possible way. In response, nature is bringing down different kinds of disasters upon the environment. I do not know how monetary value can define rivers, tree shade, fresh air, smell of ripe mango and birds’ chirping. But if the cool shade, the happy morning, the evening, the unstable wind of the spring cease to exist, it will reduce the vitality and life will become miserable, writes Siam Sarower Jamil

NOW it’s summer, technically the monsoon. High temperature and severe heat is felt throughout the world. Unbearable heat is not only felt in Asia or in Arabian Peninsula; it is even felt in European countries too.

Few days ago Kuwait recorded the highest temperature in world history — reaching 63 degree Celsius. France has recorded its highest temperature which rose to 45 degrees Celsius. The French government had to impose restrictions on car movements due to the temperature.

Bangladesh’s highest temperature this season was 42.2 degrees Celsius recorded in Jessore. In last summer, temperature in Dhaka was the highest in five decades exceeding 40 degrees Celsius. Intense temperature made people’s life harder countrywide including the capital dwellers.

Increasing temperature is a sign of climate change.

No doubt fossil-fuel dependent rich countries have liability for climate change around the world. But we are also following their path. Gradually the kind of social, economic and cultural environment we are developing and becoming accustomed to also indicates increasing separation from the nature.

There is no alternative to a suitable environment for survival of every living creature, including human beings. But in many ways we are harming the environment, bringing dangerous consequence for living creatures.

In recent times, nature has become adverse to the human beings. We have become helpless to the natural disasters like storm, rain, cold and drought. About 70 million people are affected by food insecurity, thousands become homeless due to flood, many dying in disease and there are severe lacks of safe drinking water.

A large number of population in South Asia including Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka are at the risk of being environmental refugee due to increase in global temperature which is resulting in sea revel rise.

If the temperatures continue to rise, it is estimated that sea level will rise by 153 cm by 2050. By the turn of the century sea level will rise by 460 centimeters.

Due to climate change, land and aquatic biodiversity will be seriously damaged. The lower areas will be flooded. Millions of people will be refugees. The natural disaster prone countries like Bangladesh will be submerged. Around 120,000 square kilometers can be flooded. As a result, a large part of animals and plants will be destroyed.

Due to global warming, about 17 per cent of the coastal areas of Bangladesh are likely to be submerged in the sea by 2050. Agriculture is being affected due to climate change and drought.

Bangladesh is losing approximately 70 thousand hectares of land per year due to rapid industrialisation. And due to river erosion, more than ten thousand hectares of land is reclaimed by rivers. On the one hand dumping of industrial waste without proper management and on the other hand, the surface of the soil is polluted, the water supply is drying up; these phenomenons are affecting life and livelihood of millions of people depended on the river.

Like other developing countries, Bangladesh is also at a risky situation. Every year floods, cyclones, river erosion, inconsequential winter, monsoon are being visible in extreme way. These problems are our own creation.

Trees that play a very important role in balancing environment, supplying essential oxygen to the world are being uprooted continuously. The greenhouse effect is increasing in the atmosphere due to harmful gas like methane and nitrogen.

Besides, there is a lot of noise in the air, where the maximum should be 100 micro grams per cubic meter it is somewhere four times more. The city's horn, mike and excessive sound of concerts are on a lot of 45 decimals. For that reason, people are suffering from hearing diseases.

Normally a country needs 25 percent forest land of its territory; Bangladesh needs minimum 22 percent forest land for sustainable development. Currently there are only nine percent forest areas in Bangladesh and the amount is falling down.

The soil is decomposing, but it is now helpless to the plastic and polythene used by humans, fertility is decreasing. The use of polythene in the country has been prohibited since 2002. But the production and use of polythene are not so low.

Overcrowding of water is disturbing the aquatic resources and spreads water borne diseases. Industrial waste is affecting directly the rivers, the soil is being polluted.

If there is a garden near every home, it has incredible ability of cooling down the temperature, which is beyond the capability of air conditioner. If there's sufficient amount of trees there would be no need of artificial cooling methods.

Tree’s only contribution is not maintaining the temperature as people used to source their medicine from different plants. Because of the domination of allopathic treatment, herbal treatment is diminishing.

Fish and other aquatic animals are important components of the environment. If they are eradicated, there would have been an adverse effect on environment.

Birds are also important elements of our environment. Despite poultry meats available in the markets, many people still kill different kinds of birds only for meat consumption.   

In the winter, birds migrate to our country. And we plant poison, nets and traps to welcome them. The number of bird species is decreasing day by day due to radiation of cellular towers, destruction of habitats of birds, unnecessary use of chemicals et cetera. But we do not know, in this way actually we are killing us day by day.

Modern technology has made life dynamic and busy. It seems that no one has the power to realise life. There are countless processes of environmental pollution. We have to realise our own activities, avoid environmentally harmful practices, become aware and awaken. If we want to make a beautiful and civilised society for our future generation, we have to save the earth.

Before harming the environment, we should remember a native north-American proverb — when the last tree is cut down, the last fish is eaten and the last stream is poisoned, you will realise that you cannot eat money.

It is not possible to tackle the environmental pollution by any individual. To sustain human civilisation, every person needs to be aware of the conditions of our environment. One-third of the population of Bangladesh is 15 to 35 years old so long term plans are essential for them. After 15 years, they will be the society. If they do not become aware of their environment, they will not only be ineligible citizens but also take the country to the final boundary of destruction.

I do not know how monetary value can define rivers, tree shade, fresh air, smell of ripe mango, birds’ chirping. But the cool shade, the happy morning, the evening, the unstable wind of the spring, if these cease to exist, it will reduce the vitality, life will become miserable.

If our affectionate rivers do not exist then how will we write song-story-poetry? Without a tree, who is to provide shelter and shade? Without pure air won't our life be a sad story?

Siam Sarower Jamil is a young writer and journalist.

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