We arrived in Kolkata, and filmed by the Hooghly River. While it is no longer the main channel of the Ganges, it is still the Holy Ganges and we saw a funeral procession spreading ashes of a loved one while filming there. Then a 5 hour trip by car, ferry, rickshaw and boat to the Indian Sundarbans. The mangrove forest here is undergoing more erosion and land loss than in Bangladesh, where more river sediments can replenish it. The water here is more saline and the trees are small. A tiger was spotted by another boat, but was gone when we got there.
In the small town of Kolasib, we stayed in Hotel Cloud 9. I had been told since I was a child that I was always off on Cloud 9 and now I was actually here. However, the electricity wasn’t for the first few hours, so showers were cold, but the dinner was hot.
Journalist Cheryl Philips described using publicly accessible records of infrastructure assessments done by the Department of Transportation in Washington State to map the most vulnerable bridges and to tell the story behind a bridge that collapsed, killing several people. John Bohannon of Science Magazine used iPython coding to send a fake journal article to close to 200 open access journals in a sting operation to uncover the lack of peer review of a clearly flawed article.
We finished our time in the Sundarbans with a silent boat ride in a tidal creek. The highlight was sets of fresh tiger footprints. We then had a long sail back to Dhaka with only one stop at a village. We then had a whirlwind tour of Old Dhaka with enough shopping to send the students back happy.
Leaving Hiron Point, we headed east through the Sundarbans to Kotka. At Kotka the students had walks through the forest seeing deer, wild boar and monkeys, while a smaller group also sampled near a set of 300 year old salt making kilns for OSL dating. We managed to finish while the tide inundated the site. We ended our day with a visit to an island that has recently emerged from the slain which the succession from bare sand to mangrove is visible.
We visited Polder 32, an embanked island in the delta that was flooded for almost two years when the embankment failed in several places during Cyclone Aila. In addition to the problem of increased subsidence due to the embankment, the area struggles for fresh water. Then we sailed to Hiron Point, a forest station in the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest. We serviced equipment we have here while our armed guards watch for tigers.
Important global ecosystems like the Amazon rainforest and Great Barrier Reef are in danger of breaking down because of a combination of local pressures and climate change, but better local management could help make these areas more resilient.
“The days of greenwashing are over,” remarked Kevin Parker, CEO of Sustainable Insight Capital Management, during a panel discussion on sustainable finance. Parker was among five panelists who discussed the topic of sustainable finance and sustainable investing, including trends and major players, and what skills are needed for jobs in these areas.
“The road ahead for AC4 involves integrating the lessons learned from the peace, conflict and security communities into the work being done at The Earth Institute on developing solutions for sustainable development.” — Josh Fisher