Thursday, November 20, 2008

thousands in northern Bangladesh call for climate change action

Nearly five thousand people took part in this very colourful rally in Gaibandha, northern Bangladesh - one of the poorest areas of the country.

its the first of a series of events happening in the country organized by Oxfam and its key partner, the Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL), ahead of the United Nations conference on climate change in Poznan, Poland, next month (December 1-12)

Many in the crowd wore head banners reading “Stop harming, start helping”. They are calling for richer countries, who are primarily responsible for most of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, to cut their national carbon emissions. They want more help for poorer countries like Bangladesh to undertake adaptation measures to reduce their vulnerability to the negative impacts of climate change.

Two elephants joined the crowd, one bearing the national flag of the United States, symbolizing the slow progress made by the world’s leading industrialized nations to take steps to reduce global warming, which was blocking the development of poor countries like Bangladesh.

Many of those joining the event live in char areas - a unique phenomenon in Bangladesh; basically these are islands of silt, or sandbars, that emerge out of river systems because of erosion. But just as they rise, they also disappear...forcing landless families who've moved onto them to live and earn what money they can from farming to move in several years time when the chars once again disappear into the water, largely due to erosion of the sandbanks.

People living on them are extremely poor and very vulnerable to flooding and heavy rainfall...often their small wooden houses are flooded and they cant farm the land for several months of the year.

Scientists have predicted that Bangladesh could lose up to 17% of its land by 2050 because of rising sea levels due to global warming.

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