Dealing with Bangladesh: A Plan for Adaptation

In the Appendixes to The Lord of the Ringswe learn that the Rohanians came from the north at a critical point to assist Gondor in one of its wars.  Out of gratitude, Gondor gave them a stretch of its territory to set up the kingdom of Rohan.

I’ve been trying to think of a time in real history when a world power provided a piece of territory for people to settle.

I know that when the Goths were defeated by the Huns, about 372 AD, the Romans settled them in what is now northern Bulgaria.  It didn’t work out so well.  The Goths, feeling mistreated, eventually revolted and inflicted a severe defeat on the Romans at Adrianople [now Edirne] in 378.

As a result Theodosius I became Roman Emperor and made Trinitarian Christianity the sole legal religion – something Constantine had not done!  [The Goths were exempted; they were Arian, a faith that holds that Jesus is the Son of God but not God the Son].  But I digress – this post isn’t about the history of Christianity!

Back to my point:  First of all, climate change is not going to destroy world civilization.  If that makes me a ‘denier’, so be it. However, it is going to submerge some areas of our world while making others less habitable because of drought or heat. Meanwhile, climate change could potentially make still other regions even more desirable than they already are.

For example, coastal Bangladesh may be deluged, while some island countries such as the Maldives, Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Nauru may be gone.  At the same time, there are places where, because of economic and urban pressures, people are not reproducing themselves.  This would include Japan, Italy, Spain, and Russia, among others.

Instead of trying to integrate millions of exotic refugees into very different and incompatible populations and aging societies, my modest proposal is more practical.  Why not have countries that are not reproducing themselves cede territory to establish new nations for relocating peoples?

I am reflecting on the possibility of setting up new countries – with borders.  The people of New Bangladesh, for example, could be relocated on what is now Russian territory.  There would be a border between them and the remnant of Russia, and the new inhabitants would not be permitted to drift into Moscow or St. Petersburg unless they have skills that are needed.

Bangladesh will be the largest and most populous area likely to be permanently immersed in the sea, and its fleeing settlers would have to get used to growing different crops and living different ways of life.  And climate change is unlikely to make jute, Bangladesh’s major export, grow in southern Siberia!

In reality, my proposal, at first glance is not likely to happen.  The Japanese are losing their population, but they have never been enthusiastic about replenishing their population with gaijin.

Holy Russia has plenty of ethnic republics on its territory now, but those people were mostly indigenous well before the Russians conquered them.  And anyway,  Russia is proud of its vast extent and its outlet on the Pacific.

The United States might make available the Great Plains or the Buffalo Commons, but that stretch is not very good for the resettlement of agricultural people; it is too dry, and getting more so, and I’ve heard it will be expanding eastward.

That leaves Canada, which is a possibility.  Canadians are a mosaic anyhow, and they will volunteer for anything!

But even if my project isn’t easy to pull off, and is very expensive, we should at least do an atlas in which we map . . .

  1. The parts of the world that will become less habitable because of rising waters, heat, or drought.
  2. The areas that are likely to become more livable because of climate change.
  3. The areas where the population is aging and not reproducing itself, and therefore bound to decrease over the next century.
  4. The overlap between 2 and 3, or the areas where 2 and 3 are in close proximity.

I think my relocation plan is at least worthy of discussion.  Of course, we need to count the cost.  The movement of large populations would be the most expensive part of global adaptation to climate change.  And it would probably require some government aid as well as major private and religious philanthropy.

But why not explore alternative options like mine – before an international crisis makes taking adaptive action not only necessary, but urgent?

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