Waiting to Vanish
As their land disappears into the sea, villagers in the Bay of Bengal struggle to keep their livelihoods.
A vicious storm surge, powered by monsoon winds, brought several feet of brackish water crashing through Sk Aptauddin’s coastal home in the fall of 2014. The simple concrete shelter where Aptauddin lived with his family on Ghoramara island, 90 miles south of the Indian city of Kolkata, was destroyed.
Aptauddin, shown here standing in the remnants of his home, is one of thousands of people on Ghoramara already devastated by the effects of climate change. According to the United Nations, from 1968 to 1999, Ghoramara, which sits in the Bay of Bengal’s Sundarbans delta, lost 75 percent of its territory to encroaching water. Since then, rising sea levels and coastal erosion have only magnified the consequences of flooding. Today, with less than 3 square miles of landmass left, Ghoramara may soon follow in the footsteps of four other islands in the delta, if its inhabitants are forced to flee for good.
Photographer Jordi Pizarro traveled to Ghoramara to document how villagers like Aptauddin are coping with forces beyond their control. “We are used to seeing images of global warming as an environmental crisis — the glaciers melting, for example,” Pizarro says. “I wanted to show how climate change is affecting human beings, particularly in this small place.”