8 days ago

Fighting extreme weather conditions

FE file photo
FE file photo

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Recently, different parts of the world have been witnessing heatwaves marked by record-breaking temperatures. Worse, the condition is lingering on indefinitely. Climatologists blame it on global warming, a symptom of climate for which human actions have a big role to play. A report of the Global Climate Risk Index 2021 ranked Bangladesh the seventh extreme climate-induced disaster-risk prone country in the world. Visitations by extreme heatwaves along with long spells of drought over the last couple of years in the country are the obvious symptoms of its climate induced-vulnerability.  Amid the experience of hottest heatwave event in the last 52 years this summer when the temperature rose to as high as 43.8 degrees Celsius is the telltale sign of how global warming is impacting Bangladesh. A study conducted by a non-government body, the findings of which were revealed at a recent discussion held in the city, warned that in case the current trend of weather pattern with attendant heatwaves and the record high temperature persists, then by 2050 the country may experience a temperature level surpassing 46 degrees Celsius. Even in the near future, say, by 2030, the temperatures might exceed 45 degrees Celsius. That is a veritable doomsday scenario considering its devastating impacts not only on public health, but also on the country's agriculture, especially food production. In that event, experts fear, the nation's crop yields, those of rice and wheat, in particular, may experience a decline by 20 per cent. Already the eighth-most populated country in the world and struggling hard to grow enough food to feed its people, Bangladesh can ill-afford to encounter such a grim prospect in the future without the preparedness it requires.

In fact, what this part of the world has been witnessing over the past few years points to a clear shift in weather pattern, thanks to climate change. The point is that this shift in weather pattern is not a passing phenomenon and, as such, it has to be accepted as a fact of life. So, it demands adoption of an appropriate strategy by the government to adapt to this changed condition of life. True, the rich and advanced industrialised nations are primarily responsible for the global warming attributable to human actions including excessive burning of fossil fuels by them at least over the past two centuries. Thankfully, at the international climate talks held from time to time, the industrialised nations of the northern hemisphere  do take responsibility for the development (of global warming)  with promises of financial packages for the developing world to fight its fallouts. Since Bangladesh is part of the developing world, it has a share of the climate adaptation fund the rich nations have pledged to provide. Unfortunately, changes in the climatic conditions are taking place too fast to wait for any external help to adopt mitigation and adaptation measures in response to extreme weather events like heatwaves with very high temperature.

It would be worthwhile to note at this point that environmental governance is the critical first step towards mitigating and adapting to the extreme climate events like heatwaves, droughts, downpours, untimely floods and so on. Evidently, recent extreme heatwaves caught the nation quite unawares seeing that it could not come up with adequate mitigation measures, except some stopgap advisories, to protect crops as well as public health from their (heatwaves') onslaughts.

To this end, the different  government agencies including the Directorate General of Health Services under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the National River Conservation Commission, Bangladesh Water Development Board under    the Ministry of Water Resources, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, to mention but a few, will be required to work in a coordinated fashion to combat the fallouts from extreme heatwaves as wells other impacts of climate change.

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