Bangladesh is a massive river delta, and river erosion is taking more than 100 sq. km. of land per year. According to local officials, it displaces more than 100,000 riverside residents per year, and the pace is accelerating, fed by melting glaciers and monsoons upstream. We visited the massive Jamuna River near Sirajganj in the northwest corner of the country and saw where large chunks of the dike and roadway had collapsed just a few weeks earlier.
It is monsoon season in Bangladesh, making the delicate balance between water and land more tenuous than ever. It was raining heavily when we disembarked from the ferry on Bhola Island and it continued to rain for much of the day. South of Dhaka some 205 km. (or 11 hours by ferry), Bhola is caught between the rising saltwater of the Bay of Bengal to the south and the ominous churning of the Meghna River to the east.
I am writing from the overnight ferry from Dhaka to Bhola island. Glenn and I spent the morning shooting interviews and b-roll footage at a dismal slum in Dhaka that is home to over 1000 displaced people from the island of Bhola. Bhola, one of six southern islands in Bangladesh, is home to 1.6 million people. But many thousands of people are leaving Bhola as erosion caused by rising sea levels and strong currents swallows the land. Some predict half the island could be gone in 30 years time.
We will be heading off for Bangladesh on Aug. 22 to explore the "ground zero" of climate change and innovative adaptive strategies they are developing there. We will be traveling to Bhola, a large coastal island that has reportedly lost half its land mass over the past decade, to report on the "children of climate change" whose families are battling to stay there. We have just secured an interview with Dr.
Global warming will hit Bangladesh hard. Climate-related natural disasters already have this nation's 180 million inhabitants seeking higher ground. By mid-century scientists predict that 20 million Bangladeshis could be displaced if sea levels rise. Here's a story about one Bangladeshi who isn't waiting for that to happen. He's adapting his community to survive floods today.
Produced by Stephen Sapienza for Foreign Exchange in association with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Began airing on Foreign Exchange January 30, 2009.
Located 50 miles off the coast of Papua New Guinea, the Carteret Islands are disappearing into the ocean. Climate change is destroying the atoll, forcing the islanders to search for homes on Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea. Though this is the story of one remote community, scientists estimate climate change will displace up to 50 million people by 2050.
Produced by Jennifer Redfearn in association with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
Camera: Tim Metzger
Sound: Tim Metzger
Editor: Jennifer Redfearn
We've been on the climate change awareness tour for four days. The group usually wakes around 5:30AM – when the roosters warm their vocal chords – and bathes in the nearest river or in the sea. Breakfast or kai kai in pidgin, the common language spoken on tour, is usually a plate of rice, soupy noodles with tin fish, and kaukau or sweet potato.
This morning one of the elders, John Sailik, stood at the northern tip of Han Island, whispered sacred words into a handful of stones, and cast them out to sea.
Today the community held a church service to commemorate the youth from the Carteret Islands who will travel to the mainland to discuss climate change and the relocation (the islanders plan to relocate from the Carteret Islands to Tinputz on mainland Bougainville).
The first person we met this morning on the Carteret Islands was Nicholas, a 32-year-old fisherman with an easy smile who will lead the youth tour (climate change awareness tour) to Tinputz in the northeast corner of Bougainville. Tall with short spiky hair, Nicholas speaks three languages occasionally spicing up conversation with archaisms like "drunkard fellow."
The sea was calm today.
Last night I was on edge.
It wasn't just the "ambassador." Much of what I'd read about Bougainville before arriving painted a picture of a troubled and unstable country. Ten years of fighting for autonomy from Papua New Guinea and a brutal civil war ravaged the country in the 80s and 90s.
The "crisis" as the locals call it started in 1989 when villagers in the south protested against Rio Tinto, an international mining company that destroyed a mountainside of pristine rainforest to build one of the largest copper mines in the world.