Monday, May 31, 2010

Tigers in peril in Bangladesh

I came across this story on the Al-Jazeera website. The report clearly flags an early taste of things to come as global warming changes our environment. Because of rising sea level, the farmers of the Sunderbands in Bangladesh, have been forced inland into Royal Bengal tiger territory to search for food and, as a result, have themselves become prey.

It's not appropriate to blame the tigers. From their perspective, these humans have encroached into their territory are now competing with them for food. Can't blame the humans either, their fields are now underwater and they've got to feed their families.

Imagine how many other animal-human conflicts, like this one, climate change is spawning. I wonder how we are going to respond? Hopefully we won't get caught up in an "us or them" mind-set. It would be a great tragedy if the Royal Bengal tiger population is decimated because we humans couldn't find an alternative solution. In the case of the Sunderband tigers, one alternative would be to relocate the farmers - give them land somewhere else so that both communities could carry on enjoying existing.

This situation makes me realise how ill-prepared we really are for dealing with the practicalities of climate change. For example, if the Gulf Stream turns-off, which is looking likely, most of Europe, Canada and a large proportion of the USA will be plunged into an ice-age. Our notions of nationality and ownership are going to have to be seriously revised as we open our minds, hearts and borders to the millions of people who will be permanently displaced. "Us or them" just doesn't cut it! I hope we're up to it.