Saving Bangladesh or finding God

With wall-to-wall particle physics and gargantuan machines, physicist Brian Cox arguing half-convincingly that the LHC is worth its multi-billion euro cost, and former UK government science adviser and friend of the badger David King calling none too coherently for more focus on science that matters, the most interesting science-related story to my mind yesterday concerned climate change and Bangladesh.

It has been announced that the British government plans to give £75m to help boggy Bangladesh prepare for the impacts of climate change. With much of Bangladesh less than ten or so metres below sea level, the country could go under and tens of millions become refugees should that sea level rise.

The rest of us have a moral responsibility to help, and the British government, fiscally prudent as it is, has decided that a wise investment would be to plan ahead rather than react to a disaster situation that ends up far more costly in terms of human suffering and economic resources.

One can argue about the amount of money involved in the British initiative, but the government is surely to be applauded for this move. In the wider scheme of things, Oxfam estimates that around $50bn per year is needed globally to help poorer nations climate-proof their societies and economies. In relative terms this is small change.