Unit 1: Rising Concerns Over Rising Sea Levels
How are rising sea levels already influencing the developing nation of Bangladesh, and what are the anticipated consequences of additional sea level rise in the next century? This introduction to the Ice and Sea Level Changes module is designed to prompt student consideration of the economic, social, political, and health impacts of sea level change. They will revisit the impacts of sea level change on society in Unit 5 when they investigate implications for New York City and Southern California.
Unit 1 Learning Outcomes
- Students will articulate the impacts of sea level rise on the economic, social, and political systems of Bangladesh.
- Students will describe the ability of developing vs. industrialized nations to respond to sea level change and compare the impacts of sea level change on Bangladesh to potential impacts on their community.
Unit 1 Teaching Objectives
- Affective: Encourage reflection about the potential outcomes of sea level change on an area's economy, infrastructure, and residents.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
Before coming to class, students should have read the article titled "Rising Concerns Over Rising Sea Levels in Bangladesh" (or specific vignettes within the article—see below) on the impacts of sea level rise on storm surge hazards, freshwater contamination, land loss, commerce, agriculture, tourism, public health, fisheries, the salt industry, and national security. Depending on how faculty choose to implement this section (i.e., think-pair-share, small group discussion, gallery walk, or interactive lecture), they may decide that students should read all of the vignettes or assign specific vignettes to each student. Several sea level rise videos are also provided in the references and resources section below that faculty may wish students to view before coming to class or show during class as an introduction to the module.
During the class meeting, a series of discussion questions (provided at the end of the article) should be posed to students. They may answer the questions with a partner using a think-pair-share format; in small, stationary groups; or in small, mobile groups in the context of a gallery walk. After students have answered the questions, instructors may choose to have group report-outs or a whole-group discussion. Alternatively, instructors may choose to implement the entire exercise as a whole-group discussion, depending on time constraints.
- Reading: Unit 1: Bangladesh sea level change vignettes (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 8.3MB Dec8 17)
Unit 1: Bangladesh sea level change vignettes PDF (Acrobat (PDF) 2.8MB Dec8 17)
- Discussion Questions: Unit 1: Bangladesh discussion questions (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 300kB Nov12 15)
- Figures: Unit 1: Figures (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 3.9MB Nov12 15)
Student Discussion QuestionsNotes: Think-pair-share, small-group discussion, gallery walk, or whole-group discussion formats are equally appropriate. Faculty may choose to select a subset of these questions depending on time constraints, enrollment, etc.
- Greenhouse gas emissions are implicated as the major contributors to warming and sea level rise. Industrialized countries contribute significantly more greenhouse gases than poorer, developing countries like Bangladesh. For example, the United States is responsible for approximately 23% of global carbon dioxide emissions annually, while Bangladesh contributes approximately 0.06% (Sarwar, 2005.) What (if any) role should developed countries like the United States take in assisting Bangladesh with its problems related to sea level rise?
- Are there any positive impacts of sea level rise in Bangladesh? Do these positive impacts outweigh the negative consequences of sea level rise?
- Which two specific problems caused by sea level rise in Bangladesh do you consider the most important? Why do you consider these problems more important than the others?
- Give an example of how one problem caused by sea level rise in Bangladesh amplifies another problem.
- Which of the Bangladesh-specific issues could be a concern where you live?
- There are two major strategies proposed to address the effects of sea level rise on places like Bangladesh. "Mitigation" is a strategy by which steps are taken to stop or slow down sea level rise. In contrast, an "adaptation" strategy assumes that sea level rise is unavoidable and involves seeking out ways to adjust to sea level rise. Do you believe that mitigation or adaptation is a more feasible strategy for Bangladesh? Why? Do you believe that mitigation or adaptation would be a more feasible strategy for your community? Why?
- Loss of habitable land and forced relocation are consequences of sea level rise. What are the potential economic effects of the migration of people living in coastal areas in Bangladesh? What (if any) role should the government have in the relocation process?
- Which sea level-related problems are unique to developing countries like Bangladesh and would be of less concern for an industrialized nation?
- Describe several attributes that make Bangladesh particularly vulnerable to sea level rise-related consequences.
Teaching Notes and Tips
This is an introduction to the Ice and Sea Level Changes module with no formal assessment. However, faculty may choose to conduct a summative assessment of Unit 1 by having a whole class report-out on the discussion questions or by collecting written responses to the discussion questions. It is helpful to have a written record of student responses to the discussion questions as a reminder to students during subsequent module units.
References and Resources
- Article: Borrowed Time on Disappearing Land: Facing Rising Seas, Bangladesh Confronts the Consequences of Climate Change. New York Times, March 2014.
- Article: Salinity in coastal aquifers alarming. Dhaka Tribune, October 2013.
- Nicholls et al., 2007, Coastal Systems and Low-Lying Areas, IPCC Assessment Report.
- Powers, A, 2012, Sea-Level Rise and Its Impact on Vulnerable States: Four Examples, 73 La. L. Rev. 151. Available at http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/866/.
- Sarwar, G, 2005, Impacts of Sea Level Rise on the Coastal Zone of Bangladesh, Lund University (M.S. Thesis), Sweden. November 2005.