The season of winter is almost over. The feeling of summer has begun already in the southern part of the country, and a month after in the entire country. The alarming situation is that this year in winter, Pakistan received less rainfall in the winter than its normal expectation. According to the Meteorological department, the rainfall in January was 59% below the normal rainfall occurring, and the rainfall in February was not much of significance. Except for Punjab, the other three provinces have witnessed drastic changes in the winter season, stated by the Meteorological department, who termed the situation unusual.
Climate changes, a phenomenon that is known to literate and unknown to illiterate have huge impacts on the livelihood of the people. The question may be arising in the mind of the common people by observing such environmental changes surrounding them. But they may be less aware of the changing pattern of climate changes. However, some may have realized its implication in the rainfall of Monsoon in 2020, when the entire city of Karachi was full of water, and a flooded situation in the Northern part of the country. But the question here is why such changes are occurring now? Why not a hundred or two hundred years ago a Climate Change? And why Pakistan is most vulnerable to climate change?
According to NASA, the climate of our Planet has changed throughout history. To them, there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat in the last 650,000 years. The modern climate era and human civilizations started about 11,700 years ago with the abrupt end of the last ice age. As per the change in the current pattern, there have been unprecedented changes since the mid of 20th century, probably 95% from Human activity.
The industrial revolutions which have both positive and negative aspects have negatively encroached on our environment. The burning of fossil fuels by humans has particularly increased the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere, which raises the average temperature of Earth’s surface. The atmosphere of the Earth consists of naturally arising greenhouse gases which include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. These gases maintain the temperature of the planet’s normal, which is 15 °C (59 °F).
In the last few decades, the consumption of fossil fuel has increased, sending additional carbon dioxide to the air. This extra carbon dioxide traps heat near the surface of the earth, causing the temperature of the earth’s surface to rise. The Industrial activities of humans have caused the carbon dioxide atmospheric level to rise from 280 parts per million to 414 parts per million in the last 150 years. Industrially developed countries such as China and the US are the major contributor to greenhouse emissions. Whereas the contribution of Pakistan to greenhouse emission is very low, still it ranked in number seven as the most affected countries from climate changes.
To curb to challenges of global warming, Paris Agreement was signed by 197 in 2015, under the auspices of the United Nations. The aim of the agreement is to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, together with limiting the temperature of the planet in this century to 2 degrees Celsius, and will take such measures to reduce it to 1.5 degrees.
On some measures, the Paris Agreement is unable to contain the emission as United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) stated that the emission had risen to 55bn tonnes in 2019 from 50bn tonnes back in 2015. It also warned that fossil fuel production will rise to 2% every year. Furthermore, each year the planet is losing an area of forest, equal to the size of the United Kingdom. The capacity of oceans is reducing to absorb the carbon from the air as well as peatlands and wetland is drying out.
Meanwhile, there are other areas that have shown positivity regarding global warming and human responses to it. Take the example of the International Energy Agency (IEA) report, claiming that by 2025 renewable energy will be the major source of power, bypassing coal. Electric vehicles of tesla have shown innumerable growth in the last few years, which is a great contribution to low carbon technology. Major developed countries have set a target for themselves that they will achieve net-zero emissions in the upcoming decades.
Pakistan being a member of the Paris Agreement is one of the worst-hit countries by Climate Change. The geography of the country is located in the sub-tropics and to a limited extends in temperate regions. Its latitude extends stretch from the Arabian Sea in the south to the mountainous range of the Himalayas to the north. It has made the geography of the country most vulnerable to climate changes. According to experts, the region of Pakistan is prone to extreme weather such as heavy rainfall in monsoon and flooding. And this the very reason that in August 2020, Karachi received heavy rainfall of nine inches in a monsoon season in a single day and flooding in the other part of the country, particularly northern areas.
The report published by the Global Climate Index for 2020 discloses that Climate change has taken the lives of 9,989 people and has cost the country’s economy worth $3.8 billion. The report doesn’t include the human and economic loss of August 2020 rainfall and flooding. It further added the country has observed 152 extreme weather events from 1998 to 2018. Analyzing all these data the Think-tank agrees that Pakistan’s vulnerability to climate change is not decreasing but increasing.
Climate change is the biggest threat to Pakistan’s economy, agriculture, and the livelihood of the common people. The uncertain weather has already cost the agriculture sector of the country as farmers in Interior Sindh and Baluchistan are struggling to earn their livelihood from farming. It will certainly increase hunger and poverty and will make people compelled to migrate to urban areas. But who cares? Such news makes little headlines in our talk shows and news. The majority of the people are unaware, what Climate Change is?
The Current Government move of the Billion trees Tsunami is worth mentioning but it must be catalyzed further. Sixty-four percent of our energy comes from fossils fuels, which ought to be reduced by setting the renewable sources of energy. Electric Vehicles must be operationalized in the country, as soon as possible. Lastly, mass awareness among the public, until and unless they are aware of Climate change, these people will contribute to the pollution of the environment.