Addressing devastation brought about by climate change

Pakistan has been a victim of global warming. Despite contributing less than 1% to greenhouse emissions globally, Pakistan is ranked eighth among nations most vulnerable to climate change due to having industrial giants China and India as immediate neighbours

By Naayl Aasim

In the modern world, myriads of revolutions have taken place. Technology is on the rapid rise, the last world war was concluded seven decades ago, and society has evolved into a more inclusive platform for all peoples, but over time, as we’ve progressed and evolved in the recent years, our progression has also been met by certain repercussions. Our meteoric evolution although extraordinarily beneficial and vital for human continuance in this day and age, has unfortunately prompted the eruption of a phenomenon that has the potential of single-handedly becoming the sole reason for the degradation and deterioration of our planet and the eradication of human life. This baneful phenomenon that has sprouted due to present-day activities and the ceaseless progress in the world is known as global warming, or simply, climate change.

When it comes to countries that have been devastated by climate change, Pakistan has been a perpetual victim of the adverse effects of global warming. Despite contributing less than 0.8% of the total greenhouse emissions globally, Pakistan still ranks as the eighth most vulnerable country to climate change due to having industrial giants China and India as immediate neighbours. As a result of such vulnerability, Pakistan bears the brunt of climate change and has suffered consequently. In just years 2010 and 2011, flooding due to varying levels of precipitation as a result of climate change led to the deaths of 17,000 people and displaced millions, also destroying crops and leading to 7.6 million people being left without stable access to food. The frequency of such devastating floods will only increase in the coming years as melting glaciers and rising sea levels, one of the major contributors to flooding, is just another effect of climate change. The raising temperatures have not only contributed to flooding but, as a consequence of the extreme heat, several heatwaves have also struck Pakistan in the past decade, most notably, the 2015 heatwave in Karachi that killed 2,000 people in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s situation in regard to climate change is not subject to amelioration either, and the status quo only appears to show further signs of environmental degradation in Pakistan. Such alarming conditions are a consequence of the lack of attention and decisive action in the country towards climate change from both its civilians and its leaders. Pakistan faces a great predicament in the fight against climate change in the form of staggering illiteracy. A vast majority of people in Pakistan are entirely in the dark about how the climate in Pakistan is deteriorating and how not only our country but our individual lives are being affected by our routine activities. This makes them carry out activities such as blatantly burning garbage by daily city goers, or constant deforestation by farmers ambitious to extend their land of cultivation with a second thought about the consequences of their actions and if these actions are harming the environment or not, thus a major step towards eradicating this catastrophic change that is decaying our planet inch by inch every day is improving literacy within the rural communities and spreading awareness in rural areas about the effects of climate change.

We need the people of our nation to be more aware of our responsibilities to our nation and also spread this feeling of responsibility to others in our social circles and families. However, in order to instil this sense of responsibility and awareness into our nation, a sense of reform needs to be present. This reform needs to be brought about by people who hold influence in our country, people who lead our country. Our politicians who hold enormous amounts of influence over the lives and views of people and towards their behaviour are tasked with the duty of creating awareness within our nation, to use their influence for a positive change in our country, especially amongst the poor and illiterate people who are engaged in politics but not aware of the detrimental effects of climate change.

The international community has taken several measures to mitigate the instigating factors of climate change. Russia for example has built more dams and increased the use of solar electricity to use the growing heat to their advantage and not only generate more electricity through it, but not cause further pollution, by exhausting natural resources that are dangerous to the environment due to not only the extremely rigorous process of acquiring these fuels, and the damage they do to the landscape of regions where these mining processes are enacted, but also due to the process of burning them into fuels, which inevitably contributes to global warming greatly. The problems regarding the use of fossil fuels is rife in the entirety of the international community, for example in 2016, fossil fuels were responsible for 76% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, thus our country needs to take an eco-friendly initiative that can only be initiated by our leaders to use their influence and scope to not only create awareness about such contributing factors of climate change such as deforestation, but implement plans that exploit climate change such as other countries have been doing to decrease the rapid rise of global warming like using solar energy more, and also taking decisive action against acts such as deforestation that also increase greenhouse emissions in the environment, leading to further climate change.

Although the current regime change to Shehbaz Sharif’s government has brought about quite a few changes in governance and policies, productive initiatives such as the Billion Trees Project must not only be resumed but be campaigned for as well so that problems such as smog and high carbon dioxide emissions can be mitigated. The government should also focus on building more dams like Russia and invest in monitoring systems to track seasons where the structural integrity of these dams can be comprised in order to take timely action for preserving these dams. Public transport systems should also be encouraged more which will alleviate both the economic pressure on the public due to increasing petroleum prices and carbon dioxide emissions, however, for the public transport systems to be used more frequently investment into the public transport systems is also necessary due to inadequate facilities for public transport in the status quo.

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