National Agricultural Economy Facing Climate Change Risks: Experts

Sep 25th, 2014 | By | Category: Agriculture, Pakistan

Senior Environmental experts said on Wednesday that national agricultural economy was being affected by five major risks related to climate change.

Talking to APP senior researcher, Kashif Salik working with Sustainable Policy Development Institute (SDPI) said that being a predominantly agricultural economy, climate change is estimated to decrease crop yields in Pakistan not only as a result of flooding, but also as a result of changing temperatures, which in turn will affect livelihoods and food production.

He said that deterioration of climate is irreversibly harming Pakistan, as glacier melting in the Himalayas is projected to increase flooding and affect water resources within the next two to three decades.

Deforestation is the second leading contributor of carbon emissions worldwide after the burning of fossil fuels, and after seas, forests are the second largest storehouse of the carbon, he added.

“Being a predominantly agricultural economy, climate change is estimated to decrease crop yields in Pakistan not only as a result of flooding, but also as a result of changing temperatures, which in turn will affect livelihoods and food production” he further said.

“The glacial melt will affect fresh water flows with dramatic adverse effects on biodiversity and livelihood with possible long-term implications on regional food security” he informed.

Kashif Salik further said that scientific studies showed that average global temperature has risen by about 1 degree Centigrade during the past century.
He said that this increase was mostly due to fossil fuel burning and deforestation. Global temperatures are projected to increase further between 1.4 degree Centigrade and 5.8 degree Centigrade by 2100 and to continue to rise long after.

“Climate change is a global issue which is of concern for the entire international community”, he told.

Renowned Environmental expert Dr Fahad Saeed told APP that global warming is an unequivocal fact which is causing widespread issues such as faster glacier melting, sea level rise, shortage of fresh water, increased droughts and floods, more frequent and intense forest fires, more intense storms, more extreme heat episodes, agricultural disruption, the spread of infectious diseases and biodiversity loss, he said.

He said these vulnerabilities due to changing climate are already severe in many countries and will increase day by day. “A collective responsibility to combat this global warming and climate change is necessary and in line with sustainable development for our better future” he added.

Dr Fahad said although it is well recognized that the developing countries are the least responsible for climate change contributing only 10 percent of annual global carbon dioxide emissions.

“They are the ones that are the most vulnerable to the environmental, social and economic impacts of climate change mainly due to their geographical location and socio-economic fragility” Fahad said.

It has the least contribution to global warming and the contribution to total greenhouse gas emissions is as low as 0.43 percent which is 135th of the world average of carbon dioxide emissions, he informed.

Fahad said the coastal areas of Pakistan including the Indus Delta are most vulnerable to climate change with rising sea surface temperature and atmospheric water vapors causing an increase in cyclone intensity and rainfall.

Fakhar-e-Abbas, a scientist at the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, said Juniper trees are being infected with fungus and bacteria due to inbreeding. The trees are located in an isolated place and fast losing their genetic diversity, he said. It is important to strengthen the trees immunity to protect them from diseases and the negative effects of climate change, he added. We are working on a plan to exchange some trees with central Asian states to ensure cross breeding in the forest, he said.

He told that forests play a critical role in regulating the Earth’s climate through the carbon cycle, removing carbon from the atmosphere as they grow while storing carbon in leaves, woody tissue, roots and organic matter in soil. “The world’s forests absorb 2.4 billion tonnes of CO2 each year, or about one-third of the carbon dioxide released through the burning of fossil fuels,” Salik said.

Dr Syed Faisal who is expert on climate said that forests also represent the world’s most significant terrestrial carbon store, containing an estimated 77 percent of all carbon stored in vegetation and 39 percent of all carbon stored in soils.

Describing the main climatic variations and uncertain patterns, faced by pakistan, Faisal said that these included, rise in sea level, glacial retreats, floods, higher average temperature and higher frequency of droughts. He said the twice as much carbon as is present in the atmosphere while around 50 percent the dry weight of a tree accounts for carbon.

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