This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.
The climate crisis sweeping the globe is bringing forth a terrifying reality in Asia: that the continent may soon see some regions becoming entirely uninhabitable.
The crisis brings forth a paradox, according to CNN. As overall rain has decreased in the continent, the extreme rainfall has increased in frequency. The combination of the two has brought forth both drought and flooding, respectively. The decline in rainfall has primarily been caused by the warming of the Indian Ocean, air pollution, and change in land usage.
In India and Nepal, almost 100 people have died from rising flood waters this year. In Bangladesh, the monsoons have wiped out Rohingya refugee camps, and cut off vital transit routes. Over 100 people have died of a heat wave in India. While in Afghanistan, millions of people have felt the impact of drought, bringing starvation and displacement to those living in farming areas.
With the onset of monsoon season across Asia, floods and weak infrastructures are revealing that many of these countries aren’t prepared for the rains which come annually. The late arrival of the monsoon in 2019 is partially responsible for drought and water shortages.
Satellite photographs published by the New York Times depicts a lake in India’s southern city, Chennai, which has visibly dried in just a year. Like Chennai, an additional 21 Indian cities are predicted to run out of groundwater. A study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has also found that parts of India will become so hot that living in them will soon be a gamble.
Climate change is coming faster than expected and the effects are already clearly being felt. But the future of the crisis is what we really have to fear.
The United Nations forecasts that 120 million people will find themselves in poverty solely because of climate change, all in the next decade. By 2045, about 135 million people will be displaced entirely due to land and soil degradation. The United Nations Refugee Convention does not yet recognize refugees fleeing under the effects of climate change.
“We risk a ‘climate apartheid’ scenario where the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger and conflict while the rest of the world is left to suffer, ” said Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.
Inequality is set to play a role. Some of the least developed countries will be the first to feel the impact of rising sea levels and coastal flooding. And Stanford researchers now believe that circumstances such as these will make poor countries even more fragile.