Bangladesh Minister responds to GOP deniers: “We are struggling with the impacts of climate change” from “desertification” to “more devastating floods”

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 Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson 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 floods, 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.

— Brad Johnson, in a Wonk Room cross-post. The Wonk Room is reporting and tweeting live from the international climate talks in Cancun, Mexico.

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10 Responses to Bangladesh Minister responds to GOP deniers: “We are struggling with the impacts of climate change” from “desertification” to “more devastating floods”

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Schwarzenegger called out oil-soaked politicians in his own party, and the people backed him up. Democrats in Congress won’t speak up about guys like Inhofe and Barton, either through Congressional courtesy or because too many of them are in the trough themselves.

    The mainstream media have been casual about these connections. Fred Upton, the new House Energy committee chairman, is a big recipient of energy company money. In a normal world, he would recuse himself from relevant votes, as well as being disqualified from running that committee, but his appointment is reported as business as usual.

    This effort will have to come from enlightened unconventional media, if nobody steps up to buy a media conglomerate or cable network. A disciplined and long term effort will be required, something scattered sites and magazines are attempting but not quite succeeding at. This is a special problem between the coasts, where people just do not receive quality information. They never heard the report above from Bangladesh, and many believe that global warming is a scientific controversy. This is suicidal, and has to change.

  2. John McCormick says:

    Senator Inhofe, the ‘dangerous dummy’ should get a call from the CIA and DoD and ask him to consider the harm he is causing throughout the world. Bangladesh, Burma, East coast of India, Karachi to name just a few nations and cities are home to some of the poorest inhabitants on the planet and they are in the cross hairs of climate change and sea level rise; not to mention extreme heat waves, possible interruption of the Asian Monsoon affected by Arctic sea ice melt back.

    If we cannot silence, educate or defeat the dangerous dummy with a full blown national campaign to discredit that idiot then why are we trying to do anything about climate change either at Cancun, Johannesburg or the US Congress.

    Where are the tens of millions of dollars the big green have being spent. Reports, videos, more reports, more vidoes, travel and accommodations at now, 16 non-productive COPs. How about a few million to target Inhofe as the most dangerous man on the planet. Lets get our hands dirty for once and stop whining about those cruel repugs and their denial machine. Go after the dummy and make him a laughing stock throughout the world. Get government leaders from those climate change target nations to wage a campaign against him in their countries as well.

    We as earth’s community of people stand together or expire together.

    Big greens, get in the ring and fight him and forget your fund raising strategies for a moment. Hell, maybe we can buy him off. He must have a price?

    John McCormick

  3. Lore says:

    A little off topic here, but I might add, there is not a wonderful handout source from John Cook over at Skeptical Science; The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism:

    It can be copied and freely distributed to your denier friends. Maybe Sen. Jim Inhofe deserves a few copies in his in-box?

  4. Lore says:

    Excuse me I should say a “new” source!

  5. Ed Hummel says:

    As long as people like Inhofe think there is something “special” about humans, for whatever reason, and that the Earth is simply a stage where we humans get to call all the shots (or at least most of them!), they are never going to accept that we could in fact be committing mass suicide because of current path of our industrial and econmic development. I suppose it’s only human nature to think there is something special about us since on the surface we seem to be so extraordinary, and thus so able to do what we want on this planet. However, one of the most important enterprises developed by humans has been universal education that doesn’t cease when we leave school. I don’t suppose Inhofe and other like-minded people with some degree of power will ever willingly change their attitudes and beliefs. However, those of us who are already aware of what we are in fact doing need to become even more powerful agents of education. And as the possiblity of actually reversing catastrophic climate change becomes more unlikely over the next few years because of the entrenched and powerful obstructionists that will fight us every inch, we have to also be willing to educate people on what disasters await us and how to best prepare for the inevitable.

    At this point, I’m pretty sure that all the other crises (financial, environmental, agricultural, demographic, etc.) will have major effects on just how the climate catastrophes unfold, at least in the short term, before climate change makes everything else irrelevent across the whole globe, probably by mid-century. So besides fighting as hard as we can over the next few years to reverse course while there is still a tiny sliver of time (2015??), we should also strive to drive home to people what to expect and why. Many people will die as the disasters unfold, and the dieoff will accelerate; that’s just a mathematical certainty. But with some knowledge of what to expect, maybe more indicviduals might be able to make it through the horrendous bottleneck that’s coming at some point over the course of this century. We would have to admit that such a strategy is nothing more than global triage, and that just as in any war, luck would be a major determinant of who survives and in what condition. However, just as in a war, the odds for survival do go up when a platoon is well trained and well disiplined. Those in the know (at least as much as is possible under such circumstances) should therefore also begin educating people about the best way to survive such calamities as will be occurring more frequently as time goes on.

    I’m tending to become more pessimistic with each passing day that anything will be done in Cancun or in any other forum in the near future. So, to put it bluntly, I think our goose is cooked as a civilized society, if not as a species. I only see an accelerating descent into a new Dark Age that will dwarf anything that happened to Europe after the collapse of Rome. Without an industrial society to support 7-9 billion people, the die off will probably end up reducing us to a few million scattered over some still small pockets of habitable land across the globe. We still do have some intelligence after all, and some of us should be able to survive some pretty horrendous conditions using whatever is left over (there should be loads of junk to pick through for resources for tools) and there will probably be enough organisms left behind to find some sort of food supply. We also still have our fine arts and scientific knowledge to try to hold on to as much as possible and pass on to any descendents we may leave. Richard Feynman once said that if he had only one bit of scientific knowledge to pass on to future generations, it would be atomic theory as outlined in the Periodic Table since it contains an amazing amount of information about the world in a clear, concise and comprehensive format that is easily transmitted from one generation to another. That and other such compact basic principles would become the new bible, koran, and epic of Gilgamesh combined. So we should probably start thinking such thoughts along with continuing the fight for change while there is still time.

  6. Sasparilla says:

    It will be a happy day when Sen. Inhofe is no longer a Senator.

    This drives me crazy, my own country is the primary villain (by holding world action on climate change back for decades) in setting up the destruction of modern civilization.

  7. paulm says:

    Will democracy be the downfall of mankind? Or is it just human nature?

  8. talonpoint says:

    I think “Save Bangladesh” would serve as a good rallying cry, slogan, etc. In the age of nanosecond attention spans, it might have some meme power. Think of “Save Tibet”… it’s simple, yet one unfamiliar wonders, what’s wrong with Tibet? This attunes their attention whenever the topic comes up in the news or references are made elsewhere. I have long heard that Bangladesh will be the first domino to fall, and now that it seems to be happening, their plight should be trumpeted as a general wake-up call to real, observable catastrophic climate change effects in progress.

  9. riverat says:

    “Save Bangladesh” George Harrison wrote a song (Bangla Desh)about that. It was about a different disaster though.

  10. Mike Roddy says:

    Lore, thanks for the Skeptical Science thread. Cook really has a knack for clarity, especially with the visuals.