This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Climate Change Putting Populations at Risk

The latest report from the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is out and it isn't pretty. A warming planet is melting polar ice and the subsequent rise in sea level could devastate coastal areas in general and do tremendous damage to a country like Bangladesh, as the NYTimes reported a couple of days ago. 
In an analysis of decades of tidal records published in October, Dr. Pethick [John Pethick of Newcastle University in the UK] found that high tides in Bangladesh were rising 10 times faster than the global average. He predicted that seas in Bangladesh could rise as much as 13 feet by 2100, four times the global average. In an area where land is often a thin brown line between sky and river — nearly a quarter of Bangladesh is less than seven feet above sea level — such an increase would have dire consequences, Dr. Pethick said.
“The reaction among Bangladeshi government officials has been to tell me that I must be wrong,” he said. “That’s completely understandable, but it also means they have no hope of preparing themselves.”
“There is no doubt that preparations within Bangladesh have been utterly inadequate, but any such preparations are bound to fail because the problem is far too big for any single government,” said Tariq A. Karim, Bangladesh’s ambassador to India. “We need a regional and, better yet, a global solution. And if we don’t get one soon, the Bangladeshi people will soon become the world’s problem, because we will not be able to keep them.”
Mr. Karim estimated that as many as 50 million Bangladeshis would flee the country by 2050 if sea levels rose as expected.
This is probably the reason why the latest UN Population Division projections (the 2012 revision) suggest that Bangladesh will lead the world in outmigration between 2015 and 2050. This is not a pleasant prospect for the country and its citizens, nor for the countries that will wind up making room for these folks.

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