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By the gardens of Bangladesh

21 Apr 2021 | OP ED Watch

We are saved from climate change again. This time by floating vegetable gardens in Bangladesh not forests in Russia. But the same principle applies. According to Mirage News, the centuries-old habit of growing food on floating hyacinth mats is a recent adaptation to climate change which is making Bangladesh wetter and drier. And we need more government funding so people will grow food.

The article is based on a study by a climate scientist. Or, to be technical, a professor emeritus of sociology, three geographers and a professor of emergency management. But who’s counting? The point is, Bangladesh has been subject to flooding since the invention of water as it is basically the low-lying delta of three massive rivers, the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna that is also subject to monsoons. (Also, it is a “People’s Republic” which is rarely good for food security.) As the study notes, “Around a quarter part of Bangladesh is flooded for several months a year, affecting agriculture in particular”.

As opposed to what human or natural activity that is not affected by being submerged, we wonder. Houses? Traffic? School? But never mind. The point is that for hundreds of years clever if also desperate farmers there have planted food gardens on floating mats that then rise and fall with the waters. And so maybe if climate change makes the waters rise and fall this technique would help.

The study of course peddles the usual nonsense about trends in extreme weather: “Climatic extreme events such as cyclones and storm surges, flood, river erosion and salinity stress have been severely affecting agriculture, fishing or fish cultivation and livestock rearing.” As if any of these things were new. In fact this floating-mat technique has long been in use in parts of Myanmar, Cambodia and India for reasons you’ll never guess.

Oh. You guessed. Extreme weather involving water rushing in and rushing out. That again. One actually wonders whether the study authors, who in places are cautious about “the potential impact of climate change in Bangladesh” and at other times reckless in asserting its already disastrous effects, didn’t use the term as funding bait because they think this technique is a good idea and ought to be promoted especially in a country as poor and densely populated as Bangladesh. They cannot be unaware that flooding of these river deltas on a massive scale has been going on since the glaciers retreated.

Of course if Florida and Ottawa flood due to “cyclones and storm surges, flood, river erosion” and drought and snowstorms and wildfires and big scary extra-itchy poison ivy, we’ll be glad to know about it here too. Unless we clog the waterways up with planet-saving floating solar farms instead.

One comment on “By the gardens of Bangladesh”

  1. The Ottawa river regularly floods in Spring, due largely to the fact that it drains an area almost the size of England and Wales, much of which can be covered in a couple of metres depth of snow during the winter. Anyone who builds a house on the Ottawa's flood plain had better get used to this fact. Nevertheless, it has now become an established custom to contribute such flooding to climate change because it gives you a better chance of getting government compensation when it happens, as opposed to being told it's your own damn silly fault for building there in the first place. Perhaps the Bangladeshis (if that's the correct term) are simply employing the same technique.

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