Pakistan: On the Front-line Yet Again!
“The era of consumption without consequences is over. We must intensify efforts to decarbonize our economies. And we must support developing countries in making this transition.The poor and most vulnerable must not suffer further from a problem they did not create.” (Ban Ki-Moon)
Much has been written, already, about Trump and his withdrawal from the Paris accord. “Pittsburgh over Paris!” has been the pitch of the mongers while, “Earth over Economy!” has been the cry of the dissidents.Opinions on the matter are varied—as always—yet, mention of the war that Trump’s decision seems to ratify has been seldom. It’s a war that mostdeveloping and third world nations have, unknowingly, been on the frontline of for a better part of the last three decades: the war against climate change.
Situated on the Equator, to the south of the Tropic of Cancer, the war against climate change had been thrust upon Pakistan ever since earliest pieces of evidence forecasted the phenomenon in 1958. The curse of the fossil-fuel powered progress of the world has haunted Pakistan, along with countries of similar geography and atmosphere, since the 1980s, and the scars are for the world to see.With time, the curse of climate change has become no less than a nightmare; a calamity that has proved catastrophic on various occasions.
Greenhouse gases, the waste product of fossil-fuel energy sources, prevent heat from escaping the earth’s atmosphere, heating up our planet in the process.
Since Pakistan lies in the tropical part of the globe, the effects of the phenomenon are accentuated.
Pakistan Meteorological Department, in 2009, reported that the country’s annual mean temperature had increased by 0.47°C in the latter half of the twentieth century, the ultimate manifestation of which was observed in the summer of 2010, which was the hottest in the entire recorded history of Asia. Such surge in temperatures caused the Himalayan glaciers to melt at an abnormal rate, the resultants of which were the super-floods of 2010 and 2011.Floods in Pakistan have become so run of the mill,now, that the majorityoften turns a blind eye, while the affected populace evacuates—in an annual routine—without the need of a warning; people are still getting accustomed to the novelty of the summer heat waves that accounted for about seven hundred casualties in Karachi back in the summer of 2015.
The threat is not limited to floods and heat waves, merely.
A report from the National Institute of Oceanography, in 2015, suggested that three of the coastal cities of Pakistan—Karachi, Thatta and Badin—will be completely engulfed by the persistent rising of the Arabian Sea, by the year 2060.
Considering the importance of the three cities to Pakistan’s economy—especially Karachi—it wouldn’t be a mistake to suggest that climate change has threatened to, not only, alter thegeography of Pakistan but thrash the economy as well.
Rising temperatures have, naturally, caused the winters to be milder and shorter, a direct result of which is the continuously diminishing yield per acre of wheat—Pakistan’s chief Rabi crop, while the plummeting fresh water reserves, in the form of accentuated melting of glaciers,have already rung alarm bells. When you add Pakistan’s ever increasing population to the scenario, a synthetic famine appears to be an undeniable probability for Pakistan in the near future.
Floods, heat waves, potential loss of land and a synthetic famine—the circumstances for Pakistan seem dire. The way out for most countries would be to embrace the clean energy revolution and explore the possibilities of clean, renewable energy.
Being on the equator, Pakistan has great potential in solar energy while the sea breeze and the river tributaries present opportunities of extracting energy from wind and hydro-power.
Not only would Pakistan be well on its way towards solving its problems of climate change, but it’d also guarantee its economic stability, in the process, by investing in the energy sources of tomorrow.The circumstances of Pakistan could’ve been enviable, if it was amongst “most” countries.
Pakistan’s adversity lies in the fact that most of its problems, when it comes to climate change, are out of its hands. For one, heavy investment in clean energy seems a distant dream in the Pakistan of today considering the economic constraints of the country. However,for the sake of argument,if Pakistan is hypothesized to go 100% clean on energy and make the shift almost instantly, it’d still make negligible impact on the challenges that the country confronts.
Pakistan ranks one of the lowest when it comes to per capita carbon footprint, with a value of mere 0.8 metric tons: it’s already more responsible than much of the world. When you couple that with the fact that the Global Climate Risk Index (CRI) has ranked Pakistan as the seventh most exposed country to the whim of Mother Nature, the circumstances that Pakistan finds itself in seem not only severe but unfortunate as well.
Consequently, to say that Pakistan, like much of the third world, is at risk because of the coal powered progress of today’s world leaders would be rational.
So, when Donald Trump withdraws from the Paris accord, he’s actually withdrawing from taking the responsibility of his nation’s progress, leaving countries like Pakistan to, literally, pay the price for it every day.
It is, precisely, the poor and vulnerable who are suffering for the comforts and progress that the first world enjoys.
The principles of justice would suggest a game of tit for tat, but geography has made Mother Nature begin her havoc from the ones who are least prepared for it: the third world.
It might be the equatorial countries today, but the scourge of climate change creeps unleashed, without a shadow of doubt, instances of which can be observed all across the globe.From the exaggerated melting of ice in the Arctic to the frequent wildfires in the USA—Mother Nature’s warning signs are for all to see and fear.
Unless the mega polluters mend their ways and put accords and conventions into practice, nobody’s future is secure.
Climate change might be seen, by many, as the third world’s problem today, but Mother Nature will find her way around soon enough. She always has!