GCD: Global Understanding. Power/Privilege and Environment

In geography class, we develop an understanding of the interrelationships between people, places, spaces, and environment on a global scale. We also develop a global perspective of diversity, changes, and differences between the quality of the environment. The recent unit that I have studied in the geography class was about “climate change.” In this unit, I gained knowledge about the complexity of climate change as well as the dynamics (scale and impacts) of the climate change.

One of the studies that I have done in this class was to compare the vulnerability to hazard events that are caused by global climate change between LIC(low-income country) and HIC(high-income country). I compared Bangladesh(LIC) and United Kingdom(HIC)

Flooding in Bangladesh (September 2014. Photo: Reuters)

From the study, I have found out that flooding is a big issue in Bangladesh. Since the 1970s, the scale, intensity, and the duration of the floods have increased. Most of the houses in Bangladesh are built in fragile construction mostly with mud and sand, because most of the population can not afford a house with sturdy construction due to its expensive price (economic impact). This increases the impact of the floods when they do occur. Due to frequent flooding in Bangladesh, it makes the life of people more vulnerable. Concerning the personal security, flooding causes deaths, injury, and loss of income, which expands the poverty. Building and infrastructure are damaged and washed away. Crops and animals are also affected by flooding. Flooding causes loss of livestock and damage to vegetation. This makes it difficult for people to run the business,  consequently resulting in an increase in the poverty. Also, due to its economic disparity, only a small portion of the population have access to immediate medical help or health services. For example, in Narayanpur district, most of the families are in low-income groups. Due to low economic level in Narayanpur, less than 1% can reach medical help within one hour. Therefore, income has a strong relationship with the power and the privilege. Since due to the poverty in Bangladesh, most of the population has high vulnerability towards climate change, by not being able to afford strong construction settlements, medical services, and technology to cope with such disasters and hazards.

In the United Kingdom, due to climate change,  the annual precipitation is estimated to increase by 5%  in 2020 and 10% by 2050. This results in increasing the frequency of Gale by 30%. Drought in the South-east and flooding in North-west will be more common. Due to this, 180,000 homes in the UK will be at risk of flooding in 2050. In addition, due to the rising sea levels and higher tides, which is expected to rise 5cm per decade, and high tides becoming more frequent by 20%, most of the coastal defenses could be vulnerable to failure. However, since the United Kingdom is a high-income country, they have more power is able to mitigate the risks from these hazard events. For example, the UK government have an investment in flood and coastal defense assets. This investment has increased over the NAP(National Adaptation Programme) period. Furthermore, the government is also investing in the construction of infrastructure and facilities, for all of the buildings to be designed “flood-resistant” to adapt to its changing climate.  As you can see, high-income country or country with more better economics have more power and privilege on mitigating the effects of climate change.

Therefore by comparing the two countries, I have gained a global understanding of how economic and power has a close relationship and how they strongly influence each other. Since I live in Japan, a high-income country, I learned that it is essential for us to take initiatives on supporting or helping out the low-income countries, for every country be able to mitigate from severe impacts from climate change, and for all of the worlds to be able to be sustained manageably.

(Click HERE to view my study)


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  1. Lee Parker at |



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