The edge of climate change

Journeyed along the front line of climate change to understand how people living on the edge can adapt to the effects of climate change today.

We travelled through the Indian and Bangladeshi Sundarbans to better understand how climate change impacts peoples lives today. Every big emitter and politician should visit Gabura Island, Bangladesh, where there is a daily struggle to survive in the face of manmade environmental change.

We came across communities of women only, living perched on the edge of the riverbanks. These ladies are widows of men who have been mauled to death by Tigers whilst foraging in the mangrove jungle for firewood and resources to sell on the market. They are abandoned by society as they are blamed for the death of their husbands.

The Sundarbans comprises the world’s largest mangrove forest. Mangroves are the most effective habitat at removing carbon from the atmosphere. They act as the lungs for the planet as we continue to burn fossil fuels.

The effects of climate change make fresh water too salty to drink or to grow crops. People are forced to extract resources from the mangrove forests to survive. As a result Mangrove forests are regressing at 3% per year.

The Tiger Widows need assistance to enable them to self-sustain a greater level of financial security. They need to have safe land to live on, and then they can consider implementing some of their genius ideas for small businesses. This freedom would enable them to also act as caretakers for the mangroves.

The British Council supported this research expedition and the collaboration between the Indian Dance company Ranan and London Theatre company Transport. The production ‘The Edge’ will be staged in London 2015.

‘In the end, decisions concerning preservation and use of bio-diversity will turn on our values and ways of moral reasoning.’  Wilson 1984