Place for All Seasons
The country could put its climate advantage to better use.
Bangladesh has occupied the news s for reasons many now have, unfortunately, largely begun to associate with the country. A rapidly deteriorating law and order situation compounded further by massive political instability – which is a direct result of a war being waged at the public’s expense between the two ‘battling begums’, Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina – has caused the country to plunge into deeper chaos. With such a state of affairs, it is no wonder then that most people easily lose sight of the many wonders the country has to offer.
Bangladesh sports an enviable ecology with a long sea coastline, numerous rivers and tributaries, lakes, wetlands and forests that are evergreen or semi-evergreen and grow over the hills or in freshwater swamps. The Bangladesh plain is famous for its extremely fertile soil. As a result, the country has lush vegetation, featuring a range of fruits such as mango, jackfruit, bamboo, betel nut, coconut and date palm. The land includes nearly 6000 species of plant life, among them, nearly 5000 flowering plants. The country is also home to the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, which spans an area of up to 6000 square kilometres.
Amidst such abundant greenery, wildlife in Bangladesh has thrived. Currently, a vast number of animals inhabit a total area of 150,000 square kilometres, with the Bengal tiger, the clouded leopard, the saltwater crocodile, the Black panther and the fishing cat being its chief predators in the Sundarbans. The country also has numerous species of amphibians, reptiles, marine reptiles and mammals and up to 628 species of birds.
Perhaps the most awe-inspiring and extraordinary feature of Bangladesh is its tropical seasons. Unlike the usual four seasons around the world, Bangladesh is perhaps the only country to have six seasons throughout the year. These are Grisma (summer), Barsa (rain), Sarat
(autumn), Memanta (late autumn), Sheetkal (winter) and Basanta (spring). Each of these seasons is related to the growing of the country’s cash crops. Most of these seasons can be grouped into 3 broad categories: - The hot and dry pre-monsoon season from March to May - The rainy monsoon season from June to October - The cool and dry winter season from November to February The new year for Bangladesh begins on April 14 in the month of Boishakh which represents the beginning of Grisma. A warm summer period when rice and jute are cultivated, Grisma runs between the months of Boishakh and Joishtho, mid-April to mid-June.
During Borsha, the months of Ashar and Shrabon, mid-June to mid-August, there is a massive downpour of rain, leading to the harvesting of crops.
Sharad marks the end of the monsoon rains in the months of Bhadro and Ashshin, mid-August to mid-October. Jute is collected and processed at this time.
Hemonto, the months of Kartik and Ogrohayon, mid-October to mid-December, brings a period of cooler weather when vegetable crops are planted.
Sheet is the coolest season of the year. During the months of Sheet, Poush and Magh, mid-December to mid-February, fresh fruit and vegetables are abundant.
Falgoon and Choitro are the last two months of the year, mid-February to mid- April. This is the season of Boshonto, when the last of the sheetkal crops are harvested and flowers blossom.
Since Bangladesh is a major agricultural producer, particularly in the global production of rice (4th), fisheries (5th), jute (2nd), tea (10th) and tropical fruits (5th), such an unusual climate has in fact greatly contributed to the growth of the crops. In a normal year, a great part of Bangladesh is flooded, which ultimately produces rich alluvial soils from which to grow next year’s harvests.
Much of Bangladesh’s rather unusual climate has a considerable impact on the lifestyles of the people. With such a variation in weather seasons, Bangladeshis are particularly prone to freak climatic changes, such as floods, cyclones and tropical storms. These conditions have, therefore, made the people extremely adaptable to challenges brought about by such changes.
However, in spite of the country’s negligible contribution to the effects of global warming as well as its improved capacity to deal with increased disasters, the impact caused by climatic changes can still prove to be catastrophic, particularly to its coastal areas. Bangladesh is one of the top 10 countries in the world that are most vulnerable to climate change, according to the Global Climate Risk Index (CRI) -2011 report. The U.S agency NASA went so far as to predict that Bangladesh was all set to disappear under the waves by the end of the century. According to a recent study, if the sea level rises by just 1 metre, 20 million people stand to be displaced. In addition, increased salinity in coastal areas as well as severe flooding in the country’s major rivers is already beginning to take effect.
In order to mitigate the possibly damaging effects of these changes, measures to be implemented by the government and the international community, as proposed by a research paper titled, Impact of Climate Change in Bangladesh: The Role of Public Administration and Government’s Integrity from the Journal of Ecology and the Natural Environment, include the improvement of surveillance and a primary health information system in order to facilitate the sharing of adaptation strategies of local communities on a larger scale. Channels of communication must be established between Bangladesh and members of the international community. This can be done through the platform of SAARC. The government, international agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), members of the civil society and academics from all disciplines need to devise an advocacy and public health movement that helps in the reduction of green house gas emissions. Such efforts could also bring about an increase in carbon biosquestration through reforestation and improved agricultural practices which would ultimately slow down global warming and stabilize temperatures.