On Bangladesh shrimp farms, climate adaptation gone wrong

Since the 1980s, as rising seas and storm surges started pushing saltwater through the banks of tidal rivers and ruining their crops, rice farmers in Bangladesh, backed by the government, began shifting to shrimp farming. As Stephen Robert Miller writes in FERN’s latest story, published with The Guardian, “It was a way to adapt, and for a while it worked. Commercial shrimp, known as ‘white gold,’ has become one of the country’s most valuable export commodities.

“However, the tradeoff for a few years of income has been decades of environmental degradation and sometimes violent conflict that shows how some adaptations can end up making people more, not less, vulnerable.

“ ‘Shrimp aquaculture has been called a climate change adaptation strategy. Some development agencies say it’s the only option for areas already going under water,’ says Kasia Paprocki, a geographer with the London School of Economics and the author of Threatening Dystopias: The Global Politics of Climate Change Adaptation in Bangladesh. ‘But it contributes to many of the social and ecological problems it claims to avert.’ ”