At the beginning of the Cancun climate talks, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and other Republican senators questioned the threat to the developing world from climate change, telling President Obama to kill the global climate impacts fund he helped establish last year. Inhofe’s letter argued that the scientific findings about “eventual impacts of climate change in developing countries were found to be exaggerated or simply not true.” In an exclusive interview, Dr. Hasan Mahmud, Bangladesh’s State Minister for Environment and Forests and a PhD environmental scientist, told the Wonk Room that the Republican view of the world was dangerously false:
According to our findings, and according to the reality — what we are observing, what we are encountering, we are facing — that is, we are struggling with the impacts of climate change in Bangladesh. There is salinity intrusion, increased natural calamities that is a symptom of desertification in the northern part of Bangladesh, there is more frequent and more devastating flood, and erratic rainfall. All of these are negative impacts of climate change. In Bangladesh, this is very much visible, and we are encountering and facing the problem. I don’t know about the United States and how — In Bangladesh, this is the reality.
The crowded, poor, and low-lying nation of Bangladesh has long been recognized as one of the most vulnerable nations on the planet to global warming pollution. Independent consultancy Maplecroft rates Bangladesh as “the country most at risk due to extreme levels of poverty and a high dependency on agriculture, whilst its government has the lowest capacity of all countries to adapt to predicted changes in the climate.” Dara International’s Climate Vulnerability Monitor finds that Bangladesh is acutely vulnerable to the health impact, economic stress, habitat loss, and weather disasters caused by global warming pollution. The most vulnerable nations are already suffering and trying desperately to adapt to a more dangerous reality, no matter what Inhofe believes. But their fate does rest, at least in part, in his hands.