an exploration of Bangladesh and the United Kingdom
Scientists and environmentalists are telling us that climate change will dramatically change the world we live in within the next 50 years. While it is a global problem, it is predicted that not all humans will be affected by climate change equally. Much depends on where you live and those in dry areas, or close to rising seas, will likely feel the brunt of the effects. Money also makes a difference, as wealthier individuals and nations will have the ability to make quick changes to cope with climate change.
When looking at how countries might be affected by climate change, Bangladesh and the United Kingdom (UK) seem to stand at opposite ends of the continuum. Rising seas and flooding in Bangladesh are likely to displace millions in a country barely able to meet its current needs (Jahan 2000). Yet in the UK, a warming climate is likely to actually increase yields of agricultural lands, and a robust economy is poised to take advantage of a booming demand for “green” products that combat climate change (King 2004). To make this contrast more ironic, the UK is a prime example of the kind of carbon-intensive culture that has been blamed for climate change, while Bangladesh makes a relatively tiny impact on global climate change.
It would seem that the stage is set for conflict between Bangladesh and the UK, yet this is not what is happening. The UK is Bangladesh’s largest donor, which means something when Bangladesh is one of the world’s largest aid recipients (Jahan 2000). In addition, there is solid evidence that the UK is doing more than just looking out for itself when it comes to climate change by being an active member of agreements like the Kyoto accord. While it would be far more cost effective for the UK to attempt to cope with climate change rather than prevent it; they are taking serious steps to change their behavior in ways that might even be meaningful to places like Bangladesh (King 2004). In short, the UK and Bangladesh are indicative of a world that is showing signs of working together to act on climate change rather than standing at odds.
To explain this change, I will explore the evidence that global climate change is forcing cultures around the world to break down boundaries and cooperate to an unprecedented degree. I will also look at Bangladesh and the United Kingdom as case studies for how both cultures are dealing with the onset of climate change and viewing each other in this context. In particular, I will show some examples of how cultural change and conflict in these countries is already showing signs of breaking down historic boundaries that might keep them from dealing with climate change.
( download the PDF to read the rest of the paper )