Friday, March 17, 2023

How has Climate Change affected Pakistan? Is Pakistan’s Latest Flood an error, or are we simply Receiving What Someone Else has Sown?

Pakistan is facing one of the worsts floodings in its history. People thought nothing worse could happen after the 2010 floods in Pakistan but the ongoing flood situation in Pakistan has surpassed that. The constant stream of natural disasters that have started around the globe in the past few years are nothing but strong indicators of climate calamity. Floods, droughts, fires, tsunamis, earthquakes, and typhoons have become a regular part of global news in the past few days. Every country has received its fair share of climate disasters due to global warming and climate change. The latest floods in Pakistan are just another example of climate change-induced disasters. Climate change affected Pakistan in the worst way possible with the latest floods that have drowned many villages and cities. Experts say these floods are the result of climate change, which everyone agrees but how much Pakistan has contributed to climate change to receive such a massive flood disaster?

More than 8 million people lost their homes due to floods as per the UN report as of now. Hundreds of people and livestock have been killed and crops have been destroyed.

The latest floods in Pakistan are not just a warning for Pakistan but the world to take climate change seriously and practically do something to reverse climate change. Many areas in Sindh and South Punjab are still flooded with water that is reported to dry in six months or more. Even after the downfall is over, the flood water is still present in many of these areas breeding disease-causing bacteria and mosquitos that spread malaria and dengue. So, the disaster is not over until all of these problems are solved and people find rehabilitation and homes in the best way possible. That is how Climate change affected Pakistan and its people.

Pakistan being a developing country has few resources to properly work on the rescue of the people stranded in flooded areas. The rescue is followed by rehabilitation of people that requires more money to build homes and settle people in their hometowns and villages. Pakistan does not have enough resources to carry out rescue and rehabilitation. Even though Pakistani people, like always, have shone in such dark times with their philanthropic work and aid. But it is not enough to carry out billions of rescue and rehabilitation work.

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“We don’t have enough food, we don’t have shelter, and still even the kind of healthcare that is required is not available,” – Gerida Birukila, who is the UNICEF Pakistan Chief of Field Office in Balochistan.

The rescue work is being conducted on a daily basis to take people out of those areas. Not only did the Pakistani people step up to collect aid, but many countries China, the UAE, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Uzbekistan and many other countries have also sent aid. With around 45% of the agricultural land drowned in the water of an agrarian country is highly alarming and puts Pakistan under immense economic pressure. Many international non-profit organizations have also announced sending aid to Pakistan.

Climate change affected Pakistan but did Pakistan affect climate change to the extent to receive such massive climate disasters?

Climate change affected Pakistan and almost one-third of Pakistan is drowning underwater when it has contributed less than 1% of the total global greenhouse gases. The science behind it is very simple. The leading economies of the world, US and China are the biggest contributors to carbon emissions. The US is the leading carbon emitter with 410 billion metric tons followed by China releasing 220 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Moreover, the famous bitcoin industry – based in the US mainly – is another big threat to climate change and the global environment. The mining of cryptocurrency is equal to the carbon emission of 6 million cars, yearly. This is certainly a big figure and highly alarming for environmental protection. It is estimated that the carbon footprint of bitcoin mining from mid-2021 to 2022 til now is 27.4 million tons. This is three times greater than the US’s biggest coal plant. After these investigations, the environmental protection organizations have urged to stop mining cryptocurrency or any such operations that are highly alarming for the environment.

This feels unfair especially when Pakistan has to deal with the repercussions of climate change quite drastically when it has not even contributed to it that much.

In every regard, Pakistan’s contribution to carbon emission and leaving a carbon footprint is far less than that many of developed countries. Despite this, Pakistan has counted as one of the top 10 most vulnerable countries that are affected by climate change. Not only this, scientists are predicting the increase of monsoon rains in this region as the effect of climate change. With the rise in global warming, the glaciers are melting at a faster rate than they should. Pakistan is one of the countries with large glaciers in its north, which makes it more exposed to floods in future as well.

Even after floods, there are chances of children and old aged people dying from waterborne diseases. So, these devastating floods are to be followed by a serious health crisis in many areas of Pakistan. The livestock can also catch diseases that consequently will harm human health. The infrastructure damage that floods have caused can require years of rehabilitation and a lot of money, which is a blow to Pakistan’s economy.

UNICEF reports claim that around 7.6 million people were displaced from their homes following flood devastations. Currently, 600,000 people that were rescued from the flood are living in temporary rehabilitation sites. More than 1600 people have been killed during this calamity.

The first and foremost important thing is to save these people from hunger and water-borne diseases. Food items, clothes, and shelter has been continuously provided to these areas. Moreover, Pakistan has now started to set up medical camps in these areas to stop the spread of diseases. There are many pregnant women nearing delivery who require medical help. The condition is far worse than anyone can imagine. In the next few weeks, the weather will start to change. During winter, these people will require clothes, blankets, and makeshift tents to shelter themselves from the cold weather. Considering these conditions, the scale of relief and rehabilitation is very big and requires huge long-term help from leaders all around the world.

According to WHO estimation, Pakistan will require an estimated amount of 30Pak billion USD to reconstruct the areas destroyed by flood and inhibit people back to their homes. This is a large amount for a country like Pakistan which is already facing a struggling economy. The floods have also destroyed around 45% of the agricultural land of Pakistan. Now Pakistan being a country whose economy largely depends on agriculture produces will face serious repercussions in the future. Climate change affected Pakistan in the worst possible way

Contributions of Regions’ Total Carbon Dioxide Emission from 1750 to 2019

Climate change affected Pakistan

In these conditions, the “aid” Pakistan is receiving is very less compared to the damage these countries have caused to the global climate. The first world countries have the highest carbon footprint, with the highest carbon and other greenhouse gases emission. All of these countries should help Pakistan in rehabilitation as their responsibility is to clean up the mess they have caused to the global environment.

In the recent official trips, PM Shehbaz Sharif is urging the international community for debt relief and flood relief aid because of the huge extent of destruction caused by the latest floods.

“We have requested (United Nations) secretary-general and European leaders to give us relief. How can the world expect us to stand on our own feet? It is simply impossible,” – Shehbaz Sharif

In this regard, PM has also turned the international community’s attention toward the bonds that Pakistan has to return by December this year. The current conditions of Pakistan do not allow it to fulfil regular debt servicing and other financial commitments. Therefore, PM Sharif is meeting with leaders of different countries to not only brief about the ground situation of flood devastations but also to get relief from these debts and bonds.

Pakistan has always been a host to refugees. Currently, Pakistan is home to around 1.3 million Afghan refugees. This situation is already economically taxing Pakistan. The refugees living in flood-hit areas in Balochistan also need help and international community attention. Pakistan has always provided the best help to Afghan refugees in its capacity. Maybe the international community should also take responsibility for the mess they have made and step up to help humans in Pakistan.

Moving on, the world should take immediate and effective actions to curb the side effects of damage caused to the earth. Immediate actions should be taken when there is still time to reverse climate change. Once it is too late to reverse the effects of climate change, these natural disasters will become an annual or biannual thing. Climate change affected Pakistan in the worst way possible but it can become way worse than it is today. It will also spread to other regions of the world with increased forest fires, floods, tsunamis, typhoons, etc.

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