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“War is all about destruction and killing. But climate change and its consequences are eventually all about destruction and killing as well. Both of them snatch away people's normal life and their dignity.”
           —Yusuke Suzuki

Introduction

Climate Change: Our Uncertain Future

Photograph by Ismail Ferdous

Photograph by Ismail Ferdous from Climate Fury Shatkhira: Bangladesh
In the early morning Mustafa (35), an inhabitant of Shamnagar, Bangladesh, is working in a shrimp/crab firm. The cold water is salty, just the way crabs like it. It’s a one-man show. The workers have to work long times for wages—not the way they like it.

Every day, Salina spends three to four hours collecting drinking water for herself and her family. The 12-year old schoolgirl, like most people living in Shatkhria, Bangladesh, must either walk a very long distance to find it, or wait for the rain to come. Why? Because all the water resources around Shatkhria have become saline. Starting with her name, salt seems to be everywhere in Salina’s life.

Salina’s story, portrayed in Ismail Ferdous’s exhibit on SDN (Climate Fury Shatkhira: Bangladesh), is shared by the billions of people around the world whose daily life is affected by climate change. According to the United Nations Environment Program’s 2013 Yearbook, more than 2 billion people living in the world’s dryland regions are seriously threatened by natural resources degradation. Extreme weather, wind and water level patterns, desertification and many other environmental threats, rapidly rising everywhere from the Arctic to Oceania, have now become an acknowledged reality. The result is catastrophic, not only in terms of environmental degradation but also for human health and safety, food production and economic security.

The consequences of urbanization, industrialization, reduction of natural resources, and waste mismanagement for the future of our planet can no longer be denied. At the same time, international non-governmental organizations, national governments, and multinational corporations engage in a fierce debate on what measures should be implemented to move towards sustainable development and a Green Economy paradigm.

In this SDN Special Issue, the documentary work of Ismail Ferdous, Ed Kashi, Yusuke Suzuki and Jon Lewis powerfully illustrates the challenges of living in times of climate change and its different manifestations in South Asia, Oceania, Central Asia or North America.

“While working in two different continents on the same issue — the effects of climate change in the aftermath of a cyclone or a hurricane — I felt they had big similarities. Whether it is Hurricane Sandy in Union Beach, New Jersey, or Aila in Sundarbans, Bangladesh, the people are the core victims of this phenomenon,” Ferdous, who worked on projects in both regions, said in an interview. “It forces even the rich to become poor and homeless. It drives everyone’s life towards an uncertain future.”