On Stockholm+50 by Abdul Muhaimin Bin Faruk
Life on earth largely depends on the natural environment. Human civilization, for instance, depends on natural resources. Ever since the first photosynthesis incident which occurred in cyanobacteria, animals on the planet have been inhaling oxygen from plants up until today. Mankind is considered the smartest of all animals, they have learned to adapt and make use of more natural resources, such as, Petroleum, Metals, Water, etc.
Being dependent on nature isn’t harmful. In fact, the dependency between nature and animals is established by a natural symbiosis. But this symbiotic state between nature and animals is at stake with the introduction of modern technologies where mankind exploits natural resources for their own good without considering the consequences. As a result, the climate is changing and the natural symbiotic environment is facing a threat of extinction.
The development pattern has introduced many techniques that are hazardous to the environment. With the ever-growing numbers of population, the need to construct more buildings, transports, highways, bridges increases. This forces the infrastructure industry to incorporate urbanization. As a result, millions of trees are cut down, hectares of forest lands turn into modern concrete-based cities, and acres of agricultural lands disappear.
Countries like Bangladesh, where the impacts of climate change are already affecting people in the coastal area, are going through massive construction activities to serve the needs of a large number of the population. One of the most renowned construction activities is building the Padma Multipurpose Bridge to connect the southern part of the country to the capital. This activity has affected the ecosystem of the river and its surroundings.
A recent study conducted by the students at Institute of Disaster Management and Vulnerability Studies, University of Dhaka, shows that the bridge construction over the mighty Padma River requires around 1408.54 hectares of land acquisition, 14 kilometers of river training works, and construction of approach roads. These activities impact the environment in the following ways:
295,072 trees are cut down, excluding species like bamboo, banana, etc.;
767 hectors of fish breeding areas are damaged;
50 million cubic meters of dredge materials are extracted from the riverbed; and
24,684 tons of crop production are reduced in the construction areas.
All these numbers indicate a huge loss of biodiversity, air and water pollution, waste generation, and the list goes on, which can bring more climate related calamities to a country that is already facing direct impacts of climate change. The government is taking measures to mitigate the effects of violating the environmental balance by planting thousands of trees, conserving the river banks, restricting fishing in the selective parts of the river, and aiding the farmers by providing seeds, training and other facilities. But that is not enough.
This is just a scenario from one construction project in Bangladesh. But fate is no different from the rest of the world. The trend of modern construction activities is ongoing and damaging our climate every day. We cannot only depend on the government to take necessary measures as the damage needs to be addressed by all spheres in the society.
Climate change is affecting developing countries across Southeast Asia, and youth can help mitigate this issue. Responding to climate change involves a two-pronged approach:
Getting involved with processes that reduce emissions and stabilize the levels of heat trapping greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere; and
Adapting to climate change that is already in the pipeline.
My urge to the youth in the region is to promote mass awareness about the effects of climate change, so that more people start taking part in climate action, and adopt a lifestyle that emits less carbon and wastes less energy. That’s the only way to reinforce sustainability in development.
Abdul Muhaimin Bin Faruk is a Youth Empowerment in Climate Action Platform (YECAP) Fellow.