The environmental-refugee problem becomes eye-poppingly scary when you look at the 150 million people living in Bangladesh. A one-meter sea level rise would swamp about 17 percent of the country. “We know where people go when they lose their land: They go to cities, and they go to refugee camps,” Guzman says. “So the Bangladeshi cities that remain are going to be overrun and crumbling. Just think of the sewage system alone.”
Lest you think no one has considered what might happen next, in recent years India has increased security along the border with Bangladesh. “But fences are only so good up to a point,” Guzman says. “So how much violence are you prepared to use to keep that border secure? It’s not at all clear to me that the border can remain intact.”
Closer to home, Suzanne Goldenberg reports on how rising sea levels threaten Newtok, a village in Alaska:
A report by the US Army Corps of Engineers predicted that the highest point in the village – the school of Warner’s nightmare – could be underwater by 2017. There was no possible way to protect the village in place, the report concluded.
If Newtok can not move its people to the new site in time, the village will disappear. A community of 350 people, nearly all related to some degree and all intimately connected to the land, will cease to exist, its inhabitants scattered to the villages and towns of western Alaska, Anchorage and beyond.
It’s a choice confronting more than 180 native communities in Alaska, which are flooding and losing land because of the ice melt that is part of the changing climate.