A Quarter of Bangladesh Is Flooded. Millions Have Lost Everything. – By Somini Sengupta and Julfikar Ali Manik – The New York Times

By Somini Sengupta and 

“Torrential rains have submerged at least a quarter of Bangladesh, washing away the few things that count as assets for some of the world’s poorest people — their goats and chickens, houses of mud and tin, sacks of rice stored for the lean season.

It is the latest calamity to strike the delta nation of 165 million people. Only two months ago, a cyclone pummeled the country’s southwest. Along the coast, a rising sea has swallowed entire villages. And while it’s too soon to ascertain what role climate change has played in these latest floods, Bangladesh is already witnessing a pattern of more severe and more frequent river flooding than in the past along the mighty Brahmaputra River, scientists say, and that is projected to worsen in the years ahead as climate change intensifies the rains.

“The suffering will go up,” said Sajedul Hasan, the humanitarian director of BRAC, an international development organization based in Bangladesh that is distributing food, cash and liquid soap to displaced people.”

“This is one of the most striking inequities of the modern era. Those who are least responsible for polluting Earth’s atmosphere are among those most hurt by its consequences. The average American is responsible for 33 times more planet-warming carbon dioxide than the average Bangladeshi.

This chasm has bedeviled diplomacy for a generation, and it is once again in stark relief as the coronavirus pandemic upends the global economy and threatens to push the world’s most vulnerable people deeper into ruin.

An estimated 24 to 37 percent of the country’s landmass is submerged, according to government estimates and satellite data By Tuesday, according to the most recent figures available, nearly a million homes were inundated and 4.7 million people were affected. At least 54 have died, most of them children.

The current floods, which are a result of intense rains upstream on the Brahmaputra, could last through the middle of August. Until then, Taijul Islam, a 30-year-old sharecropper whose house has washed away, will have to camp out in a makeshift bamboo shelter on slightly higher ground. At least he was able to salvage the tin sheet that was once the roof of his house. Without it, he said, his extended family of nine would be exposed to the elements.

Mr. Islam’s predicament is multiplied by the millions among those on the front lines of climate change. Vanuatu is literally sinking into the Pacific. Pastoralists in the Horn of Africa are being pushed to the edge of survival by back-to-back droughts. In the megacity of Mumbai, the rains come in terrifying cloudbursts.”

Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, in late July. The damage from this year’s flooding has been compounded by the global coronavirus pandemic.

David Lindsay:

Bravo.  Here is one of many good comments:

AT
Idaho

July 30

Here we go again. The US with 5% of the worlds population uses 25% of its resources. The US is number one in co2 emissions per capita and is only exceeded by China, with 4x our population in total emissions. This, however, is not the whole story. In 1970 when Bangladesh became a country it had a population of ~65 million. It is now ~165 million. While they do not contribute individually or collectively anywhere near as much as a western person or country to climate change that kind of growth in one lifetime has disastrous effects on the local environment and how people live. More land is needed for food production, housing, clothing and on and on, and people spread out to previously uninhabited areas, (the environment always pays for human numbers and activity) increasing the damage when things like flooding happen. In the US a similar effect is found. In 1970 the US had ~205 million people with a per capita co2 emissions of ~23 tons each. In 2020 the US has ~330 million people with co2 emissions of ~16 tons each (a 25% reduction). Population growth has completely wiped out all the gains of reducing our per capita co2 emissions. The point of this? Without addressing population growth both in the west and in every other country, nothing will be achieved. The effect of humans on the environment is simple. Number of people x lifestyle = effects. Both sides of the equation have to be addressed everywhere to have any lasting effect.

135 Recommended

Global Warming Is Driving Polar Bears Toward Extinction, Researchers Say – By Henry Fountain – The New York Times

“Polar bears could become nearly extinct by the end of the century as a result of shrinking sea ice in the Arctic if global warming continues unabated, scientists said Monday.

Nearly all of the 19 subpopulations of polar bears, from the Beaufort Sea off Alaska to the Siberian Arctic, would face being wiped out because the loss of sea ice would force the animals onto land and away from their food supplies for longer periods, the researchers said. Prolonged fasting, and reduced nursing of cubs by mothers, would lead to rapid declines in reproduction and survival.

“There is very little chance that polar bears would persist anywhere in the world, except perhaps in the very high Arctic in one small subpopulation” if greenhouse-gas emissions continue at so-called business-as-usual levels, said Peter K. Molnar, a researcher at the University of Toronto Scarborough and lead author of the study, which was published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Even if emissions were reduced to more moderate levels, “we still are unfortunately going to lose some, especially some of the southernmost populations, to sea-ice loss,” Dr. Molnar said.”

‘The City I Love’ and Climate Change: A Miami Story – By Somini Sengupta – The New York Times

Like most people in Miami, Mario Alejandro Ariza came from somewhere else.

He arrived from the Dominican Republic in 1993, just months after Hurricane Andrew had swept through Miami, taking what seemed to him like every leaf from every tree. He was 6 years old at the time. He didn’t like it one bit.

His mother had brought him, and love had brought her. She had married a stockbroker from Miami and then, when she needed to, reinvented herself from a stay-at-home mom to a spectacularly successful real estate broker in a city at risk of sinking into the sea.

That biting detail figures in Mr. Ariza’s cautionary love letter to the city, entitled “Disposable City: Miami’s Future on the Shores of Climate Catastrophe” and published this week by Bold Type Books, an imprint of Hachette.

Opinion | Australia Is Committing Climate Suicide – By Richard Flanagan – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Flanagan is a novelist.

Credit…Matthew Abbott for The New York Times

“BRUNY ISLAND, Australia — Australia today is ground zero for the climate catastrophe. Its glorious Great Barrier Reef is dying, its world-heritage rain forests are burning, its giant kelp forests have largely vanished, numerous towns have run out of water or are about to, and now the vast continent is burning on a scale never before seen.

The images of the fires are a cross between “Mad Max” and “On the Beach”: thousands driven onto beaches in a dull orange haze, crowded tableaux of people and animals almost medieval in their strange muteness — half-Bruegel, half-Bosch, ringed by fire, survivors’ faces hidden behind masks and swimming goggles. Day turns to night as smoke extinguishes all light in the horrifying minutes before the red glow announces the imminence of the inferno. Flames leaping 200 feet into the air. Fire tornadoes. Terrified children at the helm of dinghies, piloting away from the flames, refugees in their own country.

The fires have already burned about 14.5 million acres — an area almost as large as West Virginia, more than triple the area destroyed by the 2018 fires in California and six times the size of the 2019 fires in Amazonia. Canberra’s air on New Year’s Day was the most polluted in the world partly because of a plume of fire smoke as wide as Europe.

Scientists estimate that close to half a billion native animals have been killed and fear that some species of animals and plants may have been wiped out completely. Surviving animals are abandoning their young in what is described as mass “starvation events.” At least 18 people are dead and grave fears are held about many more.”

See Where Australia’s Deadly Wildfires Are Burning – The New York Times

Days into the New Year, deadly wildfires, fueled by wind and scorching summer heat, continued to rage across Australia’s southeast.

Fire detections in the last 24 hours

Fire detections since November 2019

Source: NASA Fire Information for Resource Management System. Data as of January 3.

“Thousands of tourists and residents have been forced to evacuate from areas along the southeast coast so far, and tens of thousands more are fleeing to safer ground ahead of the weekend, with forecasters predicting a new round of dangerous fire conditions.

High winds and temperatures reaching close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 38 Celsius, are expected starting Friday.

Australia’s 2019 fire season started early and has been exceptionally brutal, experts say, even for a country used to regular burning.

Wildfires have scorched millions of acres of land across the country since October, destroying more than a thousand homes and killing at least 19 people, including three volunteer firefighters.

The most-affected state, New South Wales, which includes Sydney, Australia’s largest city, is having its worst fire season in 20 years.”

Australia Fires Keep Spreading as Military Reservists Called Up – The New York Times

By Livia Albeck-RipkaJamie Tarabay and 

Credit…Matthew Abbott for The New York Times

“Hundreds of people who had spent days trapped by fires along a beach in the town of Mallacoota reached safety more than 300 miles away on Saturday morning, after a 20-hour trip on a naval ship.

Others had stayed behind, even as Australian officials across three states urged anyone who could leave to do so. By Saturday, numerous towns along Australia’s eastern and southeastern coasts were ringed by fire.

This is already one of the worst wildfire seasons Australia has ever endured, and by all measures, Saturday was expected to be even more extreme. High winds and temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit were likely to exacerbate fires already raging out of control. Officials in the state of New South Wales said they expected to lose more houses over the weekend.”

Opinion | Hurricane Dorian Makes Bahamians the Latest Climate-Crisis Victims – By Erica Moiah James – The New York Times

By 

Dr. James, an art historian, founded the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas.

CreditCreditJoe Skipper/Reuters

“MIAMI — Whoever thought Dorian might be a good name for a hurricane has some explaining to do. In the Bahamas, when we have to deal with difficulties, we try to make the saddest people among us laugh, knowing that they will return the favor in our hour of need.

So when Hurricane Dorian hit land in the Abaco Islands in the northern Bahamas a few days ago and the horrific pictures started streaming in on social media, among the videos shared early on was what appeared to be a woman running through the rain and wind to safety, only to have her wig blow from her head.

The punch line wasn’t the wig taking flight. It was that she doubled back to retrieve it, rather than continue to safety, expanding the list of life’s essentials. Many people might read this as a highly inappropriate moment for such frivolity, but for Bahamians it was perfect timing.

What we have seen in the past few days has been sublime in its horror. It has estranged us from the humor that keeps us going despite the increasing fragility of life in the breathtakingly beautiful place we call home. It has a tiny carbon footprint but carries the burden of being ground zero for our climate crisis.

We Bahamians listen to climate deniers in rich countries who are oblivious or indifferent to those who bear the weight for their wonderful life. Meanwhile, the water rises from the ground in our yards because the water table is so high during high tide, and plants we once depended upon no longer grow. We experience too much rain or too little rain, and fresh water supplies are increasingly contaminated by rising sea levels.”

Aid Is Getting to Puerto Rico. Distributing It Remains a Challenge. – The New York Times

“LAS MARÍAS, P.R. — Inside a dark school sheltering families left homeless by landslides and hurricane winds, bottled water was getting so scarce on Monday that relief workers parceled out one small plastic cup to go with each person’s dinner of hot dogs, rice and beans and syrupy apricots.

“This is the ration,” Thomas Bosque, 60, whose roof was torn off in the storm, said, lifting his cup.At a local command center, Edwin Soto Santiago, the mayor of this devastated mountain municipality of 9,500 people, was also waiting for food and water, even though nine pallets sent by the federal government sat at a regional distribution center an hour away. The only way for the mayor to get them was to send a truck down muddy, tree-strewn roads. A day earlier, Las Marías officials had missed their chance to pick up a fresh shipment, the mayor said, because nobody told them it had arrived.

“We’re still looking for it,” Mr. Santiago said.Two weeks after Hurricane Maria split apart Puerto Rico, basic aid is arriving in San Juan and reaching more remote towns and barrios aching for assistance. But some families say that they are still receiving only meager portions, and ill-equipped and overburdened local mayors have been left to figure out how to haul supplies from regional drop-off points to their storm-ravaged towns. The death toll from the hurricane rose to 34, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said on Tuesday.”

Here are the top two comments so far, of only 98 comments so far.

Patrick Borunda Washington 16 hours ago

Hurricane Maria’s impact on Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are a graphic demonstration of the utter incompetence of Donald Trump and his fake administration. With all of the technology for forecasting the storm’s track, with all of the resources this huge economy could have brought to bear and all the experience embedded in our disaster relief infrastructure, active duty and reserve military, Trump & Co. couldn’t pre-position to mitigate the inevitable impact on the Commonwealth.
Incredible.
For starters, why wasn’t the Hope already at sea, out of harm’s way north of the storm track but days closer to Bahia San Juan? Though not fully stocked with perishables, it certainly could have had relief on the scene within 24 hours. Further, Marine Expeditionary Unites (nee Marine Amphibious Forces) and Navy Seabees have the capacity to clear LZs, repair airports and establish communication networks in profoundly hostile environments within hours of a launch.
As a young infantry officer in Vietnam I was already trained to organize lifts of utility and heavy lift helicopters to place the right mixes of men, equipment and supplies rapid-fire into small LZs. How much better could it be done now with advances in communications technology and better aircraft?
The simple fact of the matter is that the fake Trump administration lacks the capacity to operate the levers of government effectively, much less efficiently. This performance is a disaster!

Reply 78 Recommended

Mary New Jersey 17 hours ago

It is despicable that after 2 weeks, Puerto Ricans are not able to receive the most basic staples, i.e. food and water. Why isn’t our military using helicopters and airplanes to do air drops in the fartherest parts of the country?

And what about housing for those who have no home? Maybe some of the containers could be put together to furnish temporary housing. LED lanterns for lighting.

Mary Kandziolka

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Reply 70Recommended

Australia’s Death by Numbers – by Roger Cohen – The New York Times

“……………..The next day, Faisal Ishak Ahmed was pronounced dead in Brisbane. Earlier this year Omid Masoumali, an Iranian held on Nauru, burned himself to death. Other deaths include Reza Barati, an Iranian Kurd, killed in the Manus detention center in 2014. Australia has blood on its hands. This is where numbering human beings ends.

But, Australia insists, it has “stopped the boats” and the nameless “boat people” in them.

I recently finished Viet Thanh Nguyen’s fine novel “The Sympathizer.” In its last pages, as his hero flees from Vietnam, Nguyen writes: “Now that we are to be counted among these boat people, their name disturbs us. It smacks of anthropological condescension, evoking some forgotten branch of the human family, some lost tribe of amphibians emerging from ocean mist, crowned with seaweed. But we are not primitives, and we are not to be pitied.””

 

The problem, is that there will possibly be in the next 100 years or less, a billion climate change refugees,assuming just a two meter rise in sea level.
What I think we need, is to offer care to refugees, preferably in their own counties, in exchange for vasectomization or monitored, one child per couple family planning, followed by vasectomization. As ugly as it sounds, the rest of the world will also need a one or two children per couple policy as well, essentially now, to get our numbers down to a sustainable level with regards to reducing CO2 emissions and species extinctions. Or not. As in history, we can let civil war, ethnic cleansing and plagues do the dirty work, we do not have the stomach for, but reduce our numbers, we will.

Here is a comment, most recommended, that I approve:
Al Ketchum December 30, 2016

“The real problem the nyts and mr Cohen have with Australia’s immigration policies is that they work. Australia,unlike many western countries, is going to control its borders and who comes in. The vast majority of the migrants are passing thru several safe nations to get to western countries because of social welfare and economic factors. Australia has rightly concluded that they do not want to be the pressure relief valve for the tidal wave of people who are looking for better economic situations. Africa alone, now produces a minimum net gain of at least 30 million extra people a year. The continent cannot support anywhere near its present population. Should the west be required to take all these people in? When will it end? When the rest of the world has sunk to a level of poverty, hopelessness and despair that typifies these incredibly over populated counties? We must help these people solve their problems at home. It’s starts with birth control, a rejection of tribalism and the ignorance of fundamental religion and realizing that the west will not, and cannot take all of them in. Anything else just dooms the west to the same conditions that have made the Home Countries of the migrants so unlivable.”

268 Recommended

Heat, Hunger and War Force Africans Onto a ‘Road on Fire’ – The New York Times

Inconvenient News Worldwide

“AGADEZ, Niger — The world dismisses them as economic migrants. The law treats them as criminals who show up at a nation’s borders uninvited. Prayers alone protect them on the journey across the merciless Sahara.But peel back the layers of their stories and you find a complex bundle of trouble and want that prompts the men and boys of West Africa to leave home, endure beatings and bribes, board a smuggler’s pickup truck and try to make a living far, far away.”

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