Learning to float

Bangladesh

IconBy 2050, 20 percent of Bangladesh is predicted to disappear underwater.

Water will kill, especially in Bangladesh, where nearly 50 children drown every day. Floods regularly fill Bangladesh’s bowl-shaped northern regions and inundate the low-lying south†. But every year, global warming makes the sea rise a little faster, and Himalayan glaciers melt a little more. By 2050, 20 percent of the country is predicted to disappear underwater completely.

Get out while you can. Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world, with less than one square meter of land per person. Many flood refugees flee to the same countries that fuel global warming with oil exports, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. More than 4 million Bangladeshis work in the Persian Gulf region, many with their passports held “in security” by billionaire employers. And there will be further waves of refugees. Across the world, oceans have risen three millimeters annually for the past 20 years. Dense, coastal metropolises like New York, Mumbai and Osaka may be overwhelmed as soon as 2070.

If you do choose to leave the country, cross borders with care. Over the past decade, one Bangladeshi has been killed every four days by Indian border guards. But if you can’t make it out, learn to live in a drowned world. In Pabna, Bangladesh, floods make it impossible for kids to walk to school, so school comes to them in a boat equipped with desks and books. Abdul Alim, an eight-year-old floating student, thinks that schools may just be the beginning: “When it floods, many people here will have to live on boats.”Footnotes† The Bangladeshi government encourages farmers in flood-prone areas to switch from farming to shrimp cultivation, but growing the crustaceans requires uprooting mangrove trees, which provide a critical natural defense against flooding.

 



From the pages of COLORS #84 - APOCALYPSE.