The much anticipated aftermath of climate change has started showing its impact in susceptible areas of the country. A changed weather pattern mainly the sudden and longer summers have resulted in the quick melting of glaciers in the northern region of Pakistan. Lately, due to abrupt rise in temperature, a glacial lake over Shisper glacier turned into a massive outburst of flood in Hunza that swept away an important bridge on the Karakoram Highway in Hassanabad. It shows the vulnerability of infrastructure in the country that can result into a big disaster. Urgent actions are badly needed to prevent such untold damage from taking place as Pakistan is already counted among those states where climate change is taking place at a rapid pace. It needs to be stated unequivocally: climate change is real and the existential threat it poses to our planet is no exaggeration. Though the Earth’s climate has been naturally and constantly changing over time, the rate at which the planet’s average temperature has risen since the start of Industrial Revolution is alarming and this human-induced warming has thrown the natural fluctuations in temperature worryingly off-balance. The key contributor to this disquieting rise in the Earth’s temperature is the unnatural levels of ‘greenhouse gases’ – gases which trap the sun’s energy in the atmosphere – being emitted into the air due to burning of fossil fuels. This global warming has contributed to rising sea levels due to the rapid melting of mountain glaciers and retreat of polar ice sheets.
The implications of this accelerated warming would be felt in the form of sweeping changes in food production processes (due to extinction of various plant and animal species) as well as human deaths on a mass scale due to flood, storms, heat waves and droughts. The length and breadth of this wave of destruction will encompass the entire globe as no place is safe from the ravages of incremental but sustained climate change. However, poor countries, like Pakistan, with less than adequate methods of handling these various ‘natural’ disasters are suffering more so than the developed countries. In order to prevent the future consequences of the climate change, the simple and easiest steps which can be taken by an individual to combat climate change would entail the reduction of their carbon footprint. This can be achieved in a number of ways including planting trees as they are capable of absorbing carbon dioxide and utilising it for photosynthesis, switching to clean energy (solar, wind, tidal and geothermal energy), using eco-friendly products, driving vehicles on bio-fuels as they emit lesser CO2 than fossil fuels and following 4 R’s Viz. reduce, reuse, recycle and refuse.
Moreover, the reality of climate change needs to be embraced to its fullest and Pakistan should do all it can to reduce the problem. The country has seen wayward weather patterns in the past few months, and the authorities cannot continue to ignore these warnings.