“More than a third of the world’s people live within 62 miles of a shoreline. Over the coming decades, as sea levels rise, climate change experts predict that many of the world’s largest cities, including Miami and New York, will be increasingly vulnerable to coastal flooding. A recent study of 136 port cities found that those with the largest threatened populations will be in developing countries, especially those in Asia.”
I was stunned by these facts as I read “The Coming Storm” in the May 2011 issue of National Geographic while waiting to have my vision checked.
What grabbed my attention in particular was the life of the “char dwellers” in Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Char dwellers are:
“…the hundreds of thousands of people who inhabit the constantly changing islands, or chars, on the floodplains of Bangladesh’s three major rivers—the Padma, Jamuna, and Meghna. These islands, many covering less than a square mile, appear and vanish constantly, rising and falling with the tide, the season, the phase of the moon, the rainfall, and the flow of rivers upstream.”
Yes, these islands are constantly disappearing. And so char dwellers are constantly moving – as often as once a year or more. Since the islands can suddenly disappear, they are prepared to move in a matter of moments. They create highly portable homes that can be taken down, moved, and put back together at a new location in a matter of hours. They live with their suitcases at the foot of their beds. The char dwellers are the epitome of resiliency and adaptability.