That's something that could help in places like Gabura in southwest Bangladesh, where nearly six months after a tidal flood rocked the village and left thousands homeless, a local environmental activist continues to send out e-mails pleading for philanthropists and others to help the people who live there.
Exactly how much funding Bangladesh needs overall is unclear. Leaders here estimate it will cost $500 million just to raise embankments in some areas about 20 centimeters (7.8 inches) – a level that by the time construction is complete might not even be high enough to keep growing storm surges at bay.
"Adaptation sounds very easy, but it's a costly proposition for us," said Hamidur Rashid, former director-general for multilateral economic affairs in Bangladesh's foreign ministry.
Ainun Nishat, Bangladesh representative for the International Union for Conservation of Nature, called food security the country's top short-term priority.
Two years ago, he said, Bangladesh lost 10 percent of its crop to flooding. The IPCC estimates that Central and South Asia can expect a 30 percent drop in yield by 2050. For a country that depends on rice for survival, a major loss of production could translate into a widespread nutrition crisis.
Sitting in a glass jar on the wooden ledge of a bare classroom, the 47th strain of salt-resistant rice developed by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute doesn't look like much at the moment. But it could help save the country.
It is a product of the waist-high plots of numbered and labeled rice paddies at the institute on the outskirts of Dhaka. Researchers at BRRI said they have spent more than 15 years testing new, high-yielding varieties of rice that can grow in the salty waters that, because of rising sea levels in the Bay of Bengal, have already moved into rice-producing areas, causing crop yields to shrink.
Cyclone warnings via cell-phone system
Meanwhile, in the heart of town, engineers with Bangladesh's Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services are creating a storm early warning system that can be sent out via cell-phone text message. Cell phones are widespread, even in remote villages.
Already, vast improvements in the country's early warning storm systems already have been credited with saving countless lives during Cyclone Sidr in 2007. Ahmadul Hassan, senior water resources planner at CEGIS, said the cell phone is ideal for disseminating warnings even more rapidly.
Even so, Hassan said, more development aid is required to address the threat of climate change. Warnings are important, and so are the building of new cyclone shelters and the strengthening of embankments. But the real work of preparing for climate change, he said, lies in population control, increasing access to education, and raising income levels.
As night fell in Dhaka, Nishat sat at the rooftop table that he said was the place where Bangladesh's leaders agreed on how best to prepare for climate change. He said he is eager to see his country do things that won't cost much money but that could spark dramatic changes in governance – like establishing climate change divisions in every ministry.
"We're not talking about additional manpower. We're talking about making climate change an inroad into everything," he said. "Climate change is still something abstract to people."
Rahman, meanwhile, is busy setting up a major center for studying adaptation at his university. Spearheaded by Huq and leading Bangladeshi scientists like Atiq Rahman, the proposed center works on the theory that students will learn more in the living laboratory of Bangladesh than in a sterile classroom in Cambridge or Oxford about what vulnerable countries need to cope with climate change.
A record 'of doing very complex things'
Omar Rahman pointed to the country's successful, decades-long campaign to drive down population growth as a measure of what Bangladesh can accomplish. Three decades ago, he noted, the average family had seven children. Now the average family has three, and the number is reducing still. There's a climate change lesson in that, he insists.