A prominent Bangladesh Baptist has urged everyone in the west to take responsibility for their actions in contributing to climate change – because its effects are already being felt around the world.

Joyanta Adhikari, president of the Bangladesh Baptist Church Sangha (Society), said his country has been reeling from shorter winters, more intensive flooding and devastating cyclones.

Much of this can be attributed to global warming, Adhikari pointed out during a recent visit to England.

“In Bangladesh the effects of climate change is visible,” he told The Baptist Times. “We have never faced some of the threats we are now facing.

“We do not want to blame each other for how we got here, but I ask that everyone is responsible for their own point of view.

“Think about your lifestyle, think about how you use natural resources. For example, do you need to use electric lights when there is natural light?”

Adhikari, also executive director of the Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh, a Christian Aid partner, spoke at a number of churches in England and visited Baptist House in southeast England.

He explained in more detail how the changes had affected Bangladesh.

“We used to have four to six months of winter, but that has been reduced to two. The flooding and the cyclones are more intense.

“Following the two cyclones (Aila and Sidr), the embankment is damaged. The government is not economically solvent and hasn’t fixed it. Salinity is now in the water system and causing health problems.”

Adhikari’s remarks about climate change paralleled comments made last year by Leor Sarkar, general secretary of the Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship, during a briefing at the Baptist World Alliance’s gathering in Ede, Netherlands.

Bangladesh’s “main problem is that sea level is getting higher,” said Sarkar. In the “next 20 to 25 years, one-third of our land will go under the sea.”

Speaking about the frequency of cyclones, Sarkar said, “During the cyclone time, the sea water that is coming … [It] is destroying the fields. We can’t cultivate the land.”

He also pointed out the increased flooding from rivers to the north of Bangladesh in India and Nepal – rivers with headwaters in the Himalayas where glaciers are melting.

“There are 40 million refugees in the world,” responded Les Fussell, national director of Baptist World Aid Australia, to Sarkar’s comments. “With climate change happening in Bangladesh with rising sea levels, there will be 60 million climate refugees just in Bangladesh.”

Fussell said, “It is the poor that can’t run away. It’s the poor who have to try to cope with these gigantic effects in climate change.”

This article appeared originally in The Baptist Times of Great Britain. EthicsDaily.com staff contributed to the news story.

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