TEDxDhaka 2017: Rendering Tomorrow Session 2

Climate Change is Now

 

Jalal Ahmad

The first talk of this session was by Jalal Ahmad, the Principal Architect of J. A. Architects Ltd. He highlights a pressing problem of global development climate change—and how it is impacting Bangladesh. He speaks about river bank erosion in Bangladesh and deadly effects that it is having on the livelihoods of millions of Bangladeshis, comparing it to “a silent cancer” which is plaguing the people of Bangladesh everyday. His solution to the problem? To build self-sustaining villages.

Jalal Ahmad took the audience through a visual journey of his projects in Sreepur and Gaibandha, where he and his team built whole villages with schools and community areas with minimum resources. What set this project apart is the holistic approach to build the villages—not only did it provide a shelter for climate refugees—it also created economic opportunities for villagers to be self sustainable around the year through weaving and pumpkin cultivation. The cost of creating these villages are economical too, he stated. With the cost of creating an apartment building which can house 36 families in Dhaka city, the project can create housing for 36,000 families in the villages.

Although we come up with makeshift solutions when we see small problems, we need to think about the bigger picture. By preparing ahead and holistically addressing landlessness, says Jalal Ahmad, we can take the right step to rehabilitate and empower climate refugees.

 

Zeba I. Seraj

The second talk of the session was by Dr. Zeba I. Seraj, a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Dhaka. She started the session by giving alarming data on the effects of climate change in Bangladesh. Due to climate change, levels of carbon dioxide is rising, which is increasing acid levels in the ocean and as a result, coral reefs are being affected. Climate change is also creating storms and cyclones like we’ve never seen before in Bangladesh, which is increasing the level of salinity in the water. This, Zeba points out, is negatively affecting the harvest of crops and can create a crisis of epic proportions if not tackled immediately.

Her Plant Biotechnology Laboratory in collaboration with both national and international institutes, like BRRI ( Bangladesh Rice Research Institute), IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) and ICGEB (The International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology) has produced saline tolerant rice using DNA-marker-assisted selection as well as genetic transformation. Climate change is real, and it is already affecting the lives of millions of people in Bangladesh, says Zeba I. Seraj. Through local efforts in innovating the way we harvest crops, we can play a contribution in addressing climate-change induced food shortages globally.

 

Shahriar Caesar Rahman

The third talk of the session was by the environmental conservationist Shahriar Caesar Rahman. He began his talk with a moving story of his experience in the jungle. He had rescued a rare bird species but couldn’t save it at the end because its mate had died, and two birds depended on each other for survival. With this analogy, provoked the audience to think about the dependencies of humankind on forests, and how important it is for our survival that forests thrive.

 

Caesar highlighted the tremendous man-made challenges that forests are facing, and how, in pursuit of economic development, we have sacrificed our natural ecosystems. Through his speech, he reminded the audience that if forests are affected, sooner or later, we’ll be affected as well. Although  many of us consider planting trees to be equivalent cutting down trees in forests, as Caesar pointed out, what we fail to understand is that forests have their own ecosystem, and just planting trees is not enough. He also pointed out the economic opportunities that we can harness through a thriving forest like harvesting indigo.

Caesar emphasized that protecting an ecosystem is not just a job of a conservationisteconomists, politicians, and even security forces have a role to play. He gave inspiring examples of how he made people who were hunting rare animals and cutting trees protect forests instead. Nature is resilient and we need to allow it thrive again, Caesar said. To save mankind, he urged, we cannot think about the natural ecosystems later, and development at the cost of environmental degradation needs to come to a permanent stop.

 

Chitropot

Six young boys took their position on stage with their instruments and won everyone’s heart with the first tune. Influenced by forms of contemporary and classical arts and literature, the band has composed multiple originals and performs regularly on stage and radios. They started with the song Brishti Tumi which was also the first song they released. The group of six believes that this song defines their journey, which is why both its original and revised versions were played to depict the band’s transformation. Their performance was further enlivened by the melodious tunes of Shada Kalo Rongdhonu and Chokbadha.

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