Bangladesh in one of the most disaster prone country on earth. It is estimated that looming environmental risks of rising sea levels may affect 17% of its land by 2050, hitting some 70 million people. Nowadays, the great majority of Bangladesh’s population is already living under the threat of consequences related to climate change, and therefore they have learnt how to shape their lifestyle according to it.
An interesting example at this subject is the school boat project. Every year, during the rainy season, which lasts from mid-May to late October, monsoon winds brings plenty of rainfall that corresponds to 70 to 85 percent of the annual total. During this 5-month period thousands of schools are forced to close and many children miss several school days to floods. In order to avoid this trend a Bangladeshi architect, Mohammed Rezwan, who himself used to miss a lot of school days when he was a child, has setup a floating education system. The idea that lies behind the project is that having assessed that young students can’t reach their schools for several months a year, schools have to be brought to students. At the moment, more than one hundred boats are operating, some of them host classes, some others functions as floating libraries or computer centres where people can keep updated with the latest news and information from all around the word. Each boat is provided with solar panels on top and a set of batteries inside the boat in order to store the gathered energy and then generate the amount of energy required to run computers and several other appliances.Furthermore, during classes students discover the main characteristics of the environment around them learning to know some basic information such as the meaning of pollution, conservation and biodiversity. And they are also teached the correct behaviour to be applied according to the context they are living in like keeping the latrines away from the water source.
The Bangladeshi initiative mentioned above is an interesting example of adaptation strategy to climate change.Usually, talks about this topic opens up discussions on whether we should invest more in adaptation rather than mitigation strategies to tackle climate change consequences. What measures are more prominent? The adaptation or the mitigation ones?I would answer these questions with another question: Do we really have to choose between the two? First of all, it’s important to define the two terms. Mitigation usually refers to those measures aimed to reduce the effects of climate change, most of all it calls for actions to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. On the contrary, adaptation refers to all those measures that enhance resilience to climate change.If we look at people’s attitude towards environment a major difference comes up between those who live in developed countries and those from the developing world. While the first group of countries has been focused its attention on promoting mitigation measures for years now, the poorest countries on the globe have always tried to guarantee their survival on earth through adaptation solutions. The reason of this difference is easy to be understood. Contrary to the richer Global North, underdeveloped countries like Bangladesh are already being affected by climate change consequences, and therefore they can’t wait for long-term mitigation solutions and have no choice but to adapt to their environment.Paul Gilding, author of the book ‘The great disruption’, described human tendency to face difficulties by saying ‘When we feel fear and we fear loss we are capable of quite extraordinary things’ which seems to summarize what already described.
Now the most obvious question at this topic is , will the Global North change its attitude only when the situation will be dramatic as it’s now in some parts of the world?This is an unsolved question and I reckon that everyone of us should seriously reflect on it.