Climate Change and Natural Disasters


The impacts of Global Climate Change include sea-level rise affecting coastal areas and island states, greater intensity of cyclones and probably enhanced precipitation in monsoon areas. These have their reinforcing feed-back mechanisms. 

A recent study (November 1991) published by Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies that : “The coastal areas of Bangladesh were devastated by a cyclone in 1991. Victims of the 29 April 1991 cyclone and tidal bore were all components of the environment : human beings, animals, trees, soils and water bodies. Floods cyclones, tidal bores and earthquakes are not the only disasters; poverty is also a disaster. The impact of a natural disaster is determined by the extent of devastation caused by the event. When resources are already scarce and the baseline is under pressure, the advent of a disaster stretches the fabric of society to its limits.” 

If the same cyclone were to hit the US coast of the Mississippi Delta, the loss of human life probably would be less than one per cent of that of Bangladesh. The infrastructure loss in absolute monetary terms may be larger but as a proportion of national GDP or annual budget would be insignificant in the case of say, the USA, while it is a major and signify cant proportion of Bangladesh’s economy.

Another example is that the Netherlands may be in a position to protect itself against one metre sea-level rise, while the Maldives neither has the means not the real possibility to take effective mitigation measures. 

Thus the impact of a natural disaster is as much a function of the causal event as of the economic status of and the capacity to cope by the communities and countries that are affected. 

It also appears that poorer communities which are already vulnerable to natural disasters are again going to be the victims of impacts of GCC and consequently exposed to even greater vulnerability. 

Thus the main focus of the research will be : 

  • Identification of linkages between types of natural disasters and impacts of climate change.
  • Attempt to identify special vulnerable areas which are prone to natural disasters and impacts of climate change related events.
  • Attempt to quantify, with some case-studies, the likely scenario of some events based on historical data and climate change predictions to consider the following :
  1. impact on population
  2. impact on ecosystems
  3. impact on infrastructure, development efforts.
  • Undertake some case-studies on perceptions of likely victims, their coping strategies, likely mitigation measures and cost of such measures, and where, if any, will the required resource come from.
  • try to evaluate people’s perception on global climate change and intensification of disasters.
  • Attempt to outline policy issues relating to Global Climate Change and Natural Disasters.
  • Identify the linkages to attribute responsibility and enhance awareness on the issue at different levels :
    • Negotiators at INC
    • Government leaders
    • NGOs in North and South
    • Research and scientific communities
    • Media and public
    • Likely to be affected and already vulnerable communities.