Climate change hits close to home for one Monitor writer

Every COP climate summit that comes around is deeply personal for me, shedding new light on the monthly phone calls from Bangladesh stretching back to a time before I was born.

When I was growing up, those conversations with relatives halfway around the world passed news of villages flooded, crops failing, soil corrupted, a without of jobs, and evermore, desperate calls for financial assistance.

Why We Wrote This

For many, climate change has remained a dry, policy-pushed subject. But for Monitor correspondent Shafi Musaddique, it – and the COP summits around it – speak of home.

Technology has improved the quality of those conversations in the years since, but the calls become more urgent. Their concerns grow each year, piling high like the many reports by international NGOs and governments around the world on just how precariously close Bangladesh is to disappearing.

Unless governments around the world introduce drastic measures to cut carbon emissions, an estimated 30 million Bangladeshis will be displaced in the coming decades. A U.S. government report published in 2018 highlighted that 90 million of the 160 million-plus Bangladeshis live in “high climate exposure areas.”

If Bangladesh manages to celebrate its centenary in another 50 years’ time, it will average that we, as a global community, have done something substantial to save millions of people. Saving Bangladesh method securing the hopes and future for everyone, wherever they may be.

London

Going back to when I was a child in the 1990s – and already before – there has been one continued ritual at home, come rain or shine: the international phone call.

It usually follows like this: Pick up the receiver when it rings, be greeted with a five-second pause, and then a crackled, muffled voice speaking in Bengali – the faint traces of a relative halfway around the world, an uncle, an auntie, a cousin many times over. Someone you know, but don’t really know.

Growing up, I thought those conversations sounded like an echo under the sea. And their content, relayed to me and my family here in Britain, shared the diluvian news from those who remained in our ancestral home of Bangladesh: villages flooded, crops failing, soil corrupted, a without of jobs, and evermore, desperate calls for financial assistance.

Why We Wrote This

For many, climate change has remained a dry, policy-pushed subject. But for Monitor correspondent Shafi Musaddique, it – and the COP summits around it – speak of home.

Technology has improved the quality of those conversations in the years since, but the calls become more urgent. Their concerns grow each year, piling high like the many reports by international NGOs and governments around the world on just how precariously close Bangladesh is to disappearing.

Unless governments around the world introduce drastic measures to cut carbon emissions, an estimated 30 million Bangladeshis will be displaced in the coming decades. A U.S. government report published in 2018 highlighted that 90 million of the 160 million-plus Bangladeshis live in “high climate exposure areas.”

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