The impact of climate change on humans


Images that seek to show the impact of climate change on our world are, more often than not, of a piece of lush rain forest bordering a field that has been cleared for intensive agriculture or of a polar bear floating on a piece of melting ice.

These images are shocking and demand urgent responses from the international community. However, they fail to communicate sufficiently the nexus between climate change and human rights and the impact that climate change is already having on our fellow human beings.

This collection of photos for the 25th edition of the Sur International Journal on Human Rights seeks address this imbalance.

Changing weather patterns and extreme meteorological events mean that an increasing number of communities around the globe are unable to enjoy the full protection of various human rights guarantees including the right to life, food, water and housing. Furthermore, it is the most impoverished and vulnerable communities and groups that bear the brunt of these challenges, communities that have contributed least to the production of greenhouse gases.11. .

Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in Bangladesh. Located at the northern tip of the Bay of Bengal, the inhabitants of this region must deal with multiple effects of climate change: rising sea levels, increased frequency of cyclones and river flooding, and higher temperatures.

The following photographs are testimony to the realities of living with climate change and the hardships this presents on a daily basis.

Khaled Hasan (Bangladesh) documents the fishing community that lives on Ashar Chor, a tiny piece of land in the Bay of Bengal. His photographs tell of the difficulties that rising sea levels and unpredictable weather patterns present. One of his subjects describes how “the weather is changing so quickly, there are more storms, which means the fishing boats can’t go out to sea so we don’t have fish to dry and sell. Then we don’t know when the rains are coming, so we can’t dry our fish like we used to, so we lose out economically.” Rather than face such uncertainty, many choose to move to other parts of the country, in doing so joining the 200,000 other Bangladeshis that are forced to leave their homes each year; climate change “refugees” that find no protection under the 1951 Refugee Convention.22. .

Meanwhile near the border with Burma/Myanmar, Jashim Salam (Bangladesh) has recorded the residents of the Ramu region dealing with annual tidal surges that submerge up to 80 per cent of the city. Rising sea levels threaten to increase the frequency of these surges and the area that is submerged each time. While many are forced into temporary flood shelters, the majority have no choice but continue their day to day life with the water around them. While the subjects of the photographs demonstrate a spirit of resistance, Jashim explains that the flooding is a miserable experience, again forcing many to consider moving their homes and relocating their businesses. He speaks from personal experience – he is from the second largest city in Bangladesh, Chittagong, which faces similar tidal surges as often as twice a day. Jashim hopes that these stark images will shock people into taking action against climate change.