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Climate Refugee / Abir Abdullah

Statement

気候難民の最前線 - On the Front Line of Climate Change

バングラデッシュでは、自然は常に脅威だ。国土はガンジス川のデルタ地帯にあり、ガンジス、ブラマプルタ、マグナといった川に囲まれている。最も高いところでも海抜10mに満たない、そういう土地だ。国土は毎年恒例の洪水でいつも湿地と化しており、サイクロンとトルネードに翻弄される国家ともいえる。1億5千万という人口がひしめき合う世界で最も人口密度の高い国である。世界中の気候変動が激しさを増す中、バングラデッシュでは気候難民といえる人々の数も増えている。

低地では、雨期には膝丈まで水につかることは珍しくはない。しかし、米のような作物はこういう水位が必要なこともある。しかし、洪水は激しく、予想もできないままに発生することが多くなっている。そうなると、ほとんどの作物は壊滅し、押し流されてしまう。人々は家を失い、水位が上がるたびに移動を強いられる。あげくのはてに、彼らが戻ってみると、土地がすっかりと流されて失われているという始末だ。人々はより小さな安全な土地へと移り住み、その場がより混雑しはじめる。

バングラデッシュでは、海抜があがっているという。また、夏の気温も上昇している。人々の収入源は、農作物からエビへと移り変わりつつある地域もある。モンスーンの風の方角さえかわってしまったという。

地球の温暖化がこれらの気候変化をもたらしているという科学的根拠はまだないが、バングラデッシュで見る限り、気候の変化は明らかだ。とすると、温暖化の原因となる車の運転やエアコンを動かすこともなく、二酸化炭素をほとんど産出しないこの国の人々が、気候変動の最前線にいるという事実とはどういう訳か、世界が認識する必要がある。

Abir Abdullah(邦訳:杉山)

Nature has never made it easy to live in Bangladesh. The country is situated in the low-lying Ganges Delta, formed by the confluence of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers, and most of it is less than 10 meters above sea level. It is a country swamped by annual floods, with a coast battered by cyclones and tornadoes, yet an interior at times subject to drought. With nearly 150 million inhabitants, Bangladesh is also the most densely populated country on earth. As warnings about climate change grow in intensity, Bangladesh is forecast as the scene of increasing numbers of climate refugees.

In low-lying areas it is not unusual to be knee-deep in water in flood season – some local crops, such as rice, depend on rising waters. But floods are becoming more extreme and unpredictable. Crops have been totally destroyed, livestock lost. Houses made from bamboo, straw and corrugated iron – made to be portable when the floods come – have been totally washed away. People have been forced to tear down their houses and move dozens of times as waters rise ever higher, and they return when waters recede to find their former land has gone completely. People are having to crowd onto less and less land, and disputes are developing.

Local sea levels in Bangladesh do appear to be rising, and summer temperatures climbing. People in some coastal areas have already switched from rice crops to farming prawns, as their paddies turned too salty. The weather seems to be growing more extreme and erratic. In 2004, tides in the estuaries stopped ebbing and flowing – the water simply stayed at high-tide level. In 2005, the country had no winter, with serious consequences for its potato crop. The direction of the monsoon has changed – it now advances west instead of north across the country. In the northwest, the monsoon failed entirely in 2006, causing severe drought, and 2007 saw a tornado occur months out of season.

As yet, there have not been sufficient in-depth studies to prove that these phenomena are a direct result of global warming, but they do indicate the effect that climate change would have on Bangladesh. A country where many people have never driven a car, run an air-conditioner, or done much at all to increase carbon emissions, could well end up fighting climate change on the front line.

Abir Abdullah

CV

Abir Abdullah is now working in the european pressphoto agency (epa) as Bangladesh correspondent.

Awards: Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography Awards for ‘ Freedom Fighters: Veterans of the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971’ works.

Exhibitions: Water and Life in Bangladesh at The Association of Photographers Gallery in London, First solo exhibition on War veterans of Bangladesh at Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts at Dhaka, Group exhibition on Pleasure of Life at Oude Kerk in Amsterdam, An exhibition of Photographs by the Mother Jones award recipients in The Friends of Photography at the Ansel Adams Center in San Francisco.

Publications: Photographs published in Newyork Times, Asiaweek,Geo, Der Spiegel, TIME, BLINK- a contemporary photography book on 100 photographers, The Guardian, Newsweek, Far Eastern Economic Review, Chicago Tribune etc.