Thirty Million, a film about Bangladesh and climate change
June 19, 2016 4:19 AM   Subscribe

Thirty Million (direct Vimeo link), a U.N.-funded half-hour film about the expected effects of climate change on the country of Bangladesh. Radio interview with one of the directors on Radio New Zealand. Bangladesh will lose 70% of its land area if there is a one-meter sea level rise, displacing thirty million people.

More than 170 million people live in Bangladesh. They live (currently) within 1/116th of the land area of the next most populous country, Russia.
posted by XMLicious (28 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Bangladesh will lose 70% of its land area if there is a one-meter sea level rise, displacing thirty million people.

If?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:03 AM on June 19, 2016 [12 favorites]


This will make the Syrian refugee crisis seem like a seasonal tourist boom, by the way.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:45 AM on June 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


... and who said cyberpunk novels haven't predicted the future? A future in which the sea level rises several meters and displaces hundreds of millions of people, asymmetric warfare is waged against the global superpower for ideological reasons, antibiotics stop working, a fascist nearly wins the presidency of the United States and everybody carries around a supercomputer in their pocket that also reports their movements to the NSA?
posted by thewalrus at 6:58 AM on June 19, 2016 [27 favorites]


Is there a land route from Bangladesh to Norway?
posted by sammyo at 7:09 AM on June 19, 2016


Google maps shows one:

1,779 h (9,012 km)
This route includes a ferry.
This route has restricted usage or private roads.
This route may cross country borders.

First direction: Head North
posted by sammyo at 7:13 AM on June 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


This route includes a camel.
This route includes a yak.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:15 AM on June 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


sammyo, you can go overland entirely, it just takes much longer (you have to go around the Black Sea rather than a ferry over the Bosphorus). I'm pretty sure that you can do the entire journey by train, depending on the current situation between India and Pakistan. Which is likely to be much worse if sea levels rise.
posted by Vortisaur at 7:20 AM on June 19, 2016


Is there a land route from Bangladesh to Norway?

It used to be called the Silk Road. As a matter of fact, Vikings settled the shores of the Black Sea. This obsession with "migration" is relatively recent in human history.
posted by My Dad at 7:22 AM on June 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


Could they do what the Dutch did and build dikes to mitigate some of this?
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:36 AM on June 19, 2016


Bangladesh also gets hurricanes (cyclones) pretty frequently, so probably not.
posted by Etrigan at 8:11 AM on June 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Continuing with my best effort for bad ideas:

They live (currently) within 1/116th of the land area of the next most populous country, Russia.

Russia is giving away land.
posted by sammyo at 8:12 AM on June 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


[Yeah, advocating for the deaths of 30 million people is not going to fly here.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 9:01 AM on June 19, 2016 [14 favorites]


Well... India is badly equipped to deal with any sort of migrant influx from Bangladesh. Given the local tensions in West Bengal I don't expect this to go well at all.
posted by asra at 9:05 AM on June 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's long past time to stop saying if or even when in the context of catastrophic global change. It's here now.
posted by feralscientist at 9:36 AM on June 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


but when it happens it will be called the "Bengali Civil War"* and we will all gravely stroke our chins about the tragedy of it.

* see Researchers Link Syrian Conflict to a Drought Made Worse by Climate Change

posted by ennui.bz at 10:00 AM on June 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


The EU has already got its concentration camp strategy for refugees nicely up and running with Turkey and Greece. Turkish troops are authorised to shoot dead refugees including children on the border.
posted by Coda Tronca at 10:07 AM on June 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


not "if the sea rises," but "if the sea rises one meter."

If it rises two meters I may have to tie up the boat Ashland instead of at my front porch; all those damned bomb shelters in Medford will need snorkles. Also, will the folks in Holland need to put a couple more layers of sandbags on the dikes?

This would be sort of like the great tidal wave of 2005, except the water won't ever go away, and you can forget about the seats you bought on the 50-yard line at the Hula Bowl. Anyhow, the 30 million migrating citizens of Bangladesh will compete with the entire coastal populations of Asia and the Indian subcontinent for tent space, clean water, and food. Pacific island populations--Philippines, Malaysia?

I don't expect this to follow a gentle redistribution curve. Steep lines on graphs and heartbreak await us in the future. As a species we don't usually work well with the up side of a situation--after an initial survival response kicks in, then plays itself out, we prefer to let someone else bag our carpets for us.
posted by mule98J at 11:15 AM on June 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


They don't explicitly say this in the film but I kinda got the impression that the 30 million really is just the count of the people who will be physically displaced by the flooding. If the inundated land includes enough of the farmland that feeds the other 140+ million people in the country there could be considerably more than 30 million refugees fleeing for survival.
posted by XMLicious at 11:44 AM on June 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


This obsession with "migration" is relatively recent in human history.

Not that recent. I don't know how many Ostrogoths there were, but 30 million people on the move would cause some alarm in any period of human history.
posted by sfenders at 11:53 AM on June 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I didn't want to be mean to Dad since it is Father's Day, but the idea that migrations are just a modern bug-bear requires a really impressive misreading of human history. Hopefully we can do better with migrations this time around than we have in the past.
posted by Balna Watya at 12:42 PM on June 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


I don't know how many Ostrogoths there were, but 30 million people on the move would cause some alarm in any period of human history.

Völkerwanderung is one of my favorite words.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:24 PM on June 19, 2016


The settling of North America was pretty much an invasion as well.
posted by srboisvert at 3:25 PM on June 19, 2016


A child born today will be 84 in 2100, and the inundation - which is already underway - is a process more like a leaky tyre than a sudden event like a blowout. The land won't suddenly turn to sea in 2100. So this won't present itself as a sudden immense migration like the partition of British India, but rather a gradual shift in demographics, with aging parents hanging on to their increasingly wet, salty and marginal land, hoping to die there of old age, while their children seek opportunities on higher ground. Still tragic, particularly because Bangladesh is already overcrowded, but much more nuanced and drawn-out than you might expect.

The worst of it, as XMLicious points out above, will not be the direct migration from flooded land, but migration and starvation due to the lost food production from flooded and salt-ruined land, at a time when vast areas of agricultual land elsewhere are under similar threat. In the past the world has suffered mainly from poor distribution of food, not genuine worldwide shortages. That is likely to change.
posted by Autumn Leaf at 4:56 PM on June 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


>but when it happens it will be called the "Bengali Civil War"* and we will all gravely stroke our chins about the tragedy of it.

* see Researchers Link Syrian Conflict to a Drought Made Worse by Climate Change


The Arab Spring was more of a cause of the Syrian civil war than climate change.

And who is this "we", anyway? I have colleagues who are from Syria, and I have colleagues from Bangladesh. There is no such thing as "us" and "them" in 2016.

No such thing at all. If you disagree, you need to try harder to connect.
posted by My Dad at 6:18 PM on June 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


is a process more like a leaky tyre than a sudden event like a blowout.

Or, it could be like when the water begins to flow over the top of the sea wall, rather than a slowly leaking tire; the tide brings sea water to lowland fields. Adjustment, then, could mean the relief we feel when the daily body count begins to taper off. Or it could be when we simply just get so tired of hearing about it that one number is as good as any other. 30 million, 50 million. Our capacity to marginalize can handle any number the Cosmic Muffin throws at us.

I can't make up my mind: Waterworld? Roadwarrior? Lord of the Flies? Samo samo?
posted by mule98J at 12:46 PM on June 20, 2016


The Arab Spring was more of a cause of the Syrian civil war than climate change.

And who is this "we", anyway? I have colleagues who are from Syria, and I have colleagues from Bangladesh. There is no such thing as "us" and "them" in 2016.


As I indicated, when the Bangladeshi civil war starts, I'm sure there will be lots of "causes". If you want to see how the "west" will respond, look to Syria. We will definitely take sides. There will be an "us" and a "them," hint: in what country was a music teacher just hacked to death with a machete by radical Islamists? And, as you noted, like Syria no one will attribute the slaughter to global warming.
posted by ennui.bz at 4:10 PM on June 20, 2016


I do agree there is a perception of "us" versus "them", but in my experience (I work for a news organization with editors and contributors from nearly every country in the world) we have more in common with each other than we have differences. And the same thing goes for the ruling class of each country.
posted by My Dad at 11:59 AM on June 21, 2016


Radio New Zealand's Insight yesterday: Fighting the Pacific's Rising Seas
posted by XMLicious at 3:06 AM on July 18, 2016


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