Climate change refers to a long-term diversion in the weather paradigm causing variations in temperature, humidity, rainfall, ground water availability and ocean incursion. Since the inception of industrial revolution into mainstream human life starting from mid of 18th century, human activities, particularly use of unexampled fossil fuels aided by multiple natural disasters have gradually started increasing atmospheric temperature. This continuously rising temperatures coupled with high population growth rate, and upon the advent of 21st century, the excessive use of CFCs, Green House effects and unlimited usage of fossil fuels resultantly led to Global Warming, causing a substantial impact on climate change, as most challenging issue.
It is no more a dream life that human beings are travelling through space, reached to the depth of Atlantic and connected people all around the world with most advanced technologies, transforming the world into ‘Global Village’. Apparently, though it seems that human has conquered the nature reaching beyond the limitations of technological development of robotics and Artificial Intelligence, yet at the same time, it has failed in conserving the nature and protecting the Earth and its habitat from the adverse effects of human activities.
All these activities, developments, facilities and even life is entertaining as long as the Earth and its natural environment sustains but failing in cope with the challenges of human generated activities will ultimately make life on this planet perplexing. The negligence in taking necessary measures timely has made Global Climate change the most challenging issue of 21st century. Not long ago, an evident example is the Australian Bush fires of 2019-20, which was the costliest in terms of property damage, economic losses and wildlife devastation costing over $80 billion. Secondly, in Africa, where Climate change has been resulting in immense drought and famines, UN Climate change report has warned a risk of displacement which has already increased Heat-waves and hot days in Africa.
Taking in loop the whole world, Pakistan being an agricultural country lays no far behind among the affected countries. According to German Watch Report of the Long-term Global Climate Risk Index 2020, a global think-tank working on climate change, Pakistan has been ranked among top 10 countries been affected by climate change in the last 20 years due to its geographical location, high dependency on agriculture and water resources, governance crisis and low emergency preparedness. Moreover, the total area covered by forest is only 4.2 million hectare, which is around 4.8 percent of total land area; the statistic is very low as per the standard of UN FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization) which is 25% of total land area of any country. According to Global Climate risk index annual report 2020, Pakistan has suffered an economic loss of 0.53 percent in terms of GDP/unit and recorded 152 severe weather incidents from 1999 to 2018.
Potential geographical map of Pakistan ranging from -50 degree Celsius in Siachan Glacier of Gilgit-Baltistan to 50 degree Celsius in Turbat Balochistan have been recording unprecedented ups and down in temperature since the last half decade. Recent forest fire in Koh-e-Suleman range of Balochistan has engulfed more than 40 million trees to ashes. Furthermore, the largest province has been fronting alarming flooding since 2015, costing huge economic losses worth of billion Rupees. Currently, Gilgit-Baltistan is most severely being affected by Glacier flooding, despite getting hold of huge fresh water Glacier reservoirs, these potentials have now become a “Resource Curse” for the country particularly to Gilgit-Baltistan and its locals. Rapid surge in temperature is resulting fast melting of Glaciers and sometimes, the abrupt increment causes devastating flooding, snow avalanche and Ice breaking consequently destroying infrastructure, crops field, suspension bridges, properties worth of million rupees and even taking lives often.
Because of being an underprivileged and backward corner in terms of socio-economic development, these disasters are posing serious challenges to the indigenous residents. Flooding damage to poor quality mainstream highway and underdeveloped link roads to various mountainous destinations cuts off all possibilities of land linkage with rest of the country. Not only civilian aspects but because of its geographic importance and strategic sensitivity, periodic calamities caused by Climate change has become a pressing complication.
In spite of the enormous number of sufferings, no on-ground practical implementation other than the “Billion Tree Tsunami” Project has been done either by the local administration or by state, particularly in the focus needed corners of Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan so far. The consequence is that, ultimately Pakistan is moving towards from being water ‘’Stressed’’ to Water “scarce” country, where almost 80 percent of the population is facing severe water scarcity. There is still a huge gap exists to counter the adverse effects of climate change, which needs to be filled up with Pro-Active measures timely.
Following state and provincial level measures should be taken immediately to address this globally faced problem.
- Carbon emission is the main problem of Global Warming, which is directly linked to Climate change. Government should shift its effort towards production of sustainable green energy by zero-tariff policy on import of solar energy equipment and tools. Solar energy production cell should be subsidized as well to encourage such more installments.
- Despite being world’s 5th largest populated country, there is no facility of Mass-Transportation system in the other cities of Pakistan except in five main cities i.e., Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi. Carbon emission and fossil fuel usage can be reduced on individual level by initiating such more public transport projects.
- Cycling road must be mark separately along-side mainstream roads to promote fuel-free transport in big cities.
- Gilgit-Baltistan has a huge potential of Glacier reservoirs where multiple small barriers on different sites should be constructed to generate Hydro Electricity and to control the overflow of Glacier water in summer season as well.
- Quick response disaster cell unit should be installed in every district of Gilgit-Baltistan and potential districts of other provinces as well for emergency preparedness in collaboration with local and provincial concern authorities.
- Government should subsidize cylinder gas, (LPG) in Gilgit-Baltistan to discouraged tree cutting, where it is used as a source of domestic fuel.
- Multiple projects of Reforestation and Afforestation should be expended on large-scale under the ‘’Billion Tree Tsunami’’ project.
These are some possible solution which can be taken immediately with better solution to tackle the effects of Climate change in near future.
Published in Global Affairs September 2022 Edition