Having faced with problems of war on terror and chronic loadshedding, the incumbent government has to encounter the climate change question mark now. The policy framework, called the National Climate Change Policy, might be seen as reasonable but international cooperation necessary for adjusting to climate change is non-existent. The machinations of the present industrial scenario and the Capitalist mindset have landed many countries in an uncontrollable race for heightened fossil fuel usage. Whereas Pakistan ranks only 135th among the carbon oozing countries, sadly it is at the forefront of those most affected climate changes.
This year, there was a calamitous intrusion by water in the land surrounding rivers Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej and Jehlum. The loss of human lives was the most horrifying effect of the floods, but the loss of homes was also very saddening. Dead animals could be seen swimming in the unforgiving waters. People were displaced and the government had to handle the issues of shelter, food security, water availability and sanitation. In all, two million people were affected and the financial losses incurred by the country amounted to over $1.5 billion.
Climatic change is a war that Pakistan is now finding itself in. Guns and nukes might not be the ultimate answers this time and people might have to resort to human ingenuity and effort. This means enforcing the policies devised by the government such as putting an end to deforestation, switching to newer technologies that do not emit too much carbon dioxide and utilising renewable resources of energy instead of the non-renewable ones. These policies, however, can prove to be effective only in the long term and the lives that have already been claimed will haunt the history of this country. Our cropping patterns and flood fighting plans would not only have to be remade but all the stakeholders like farmers would have to be made a part of awareness campaign as well as future planning.
Another feature of climate change in Pakistan is droughts. These took place in the Thar region and completely exposed our lack of preparedness. Their root cause is the scarcity of rain and the shifting of the monsoon schedule. The effects are borne by both the crops and the people. Again, this is a recurring phenomenon and there is cluelessness on how to address the situation permanently other than the intelligent usage and storage of water. Where the PPP government happens to be responsible for this region and a multitude crave for food and water, countless monetary resources just seem to be floundered on festivities and fan-fare. There can be true political and social advantages, nevertheless, if the government pays more heed to the drought based hunger, thirst and disease.
The impact of climate change is actually something that is shared across global borders. The industrialised nations of the world are the ones most responsible and hence have to lead the way towards repairing the damage already done. This does not exempt us from our responsibility towards making efforts to save our environment from deforestation, high use of carbon emitting vehicles and industry.
There are only more than 80 hydroelectric power stations in Pakistan situated at various locations. The rest are greenhouse gases and smoke emitting, since they are either based on gas, oil or coal or they are nuclear. The response of the various Pakistani governments to international law instruments such as the Kyoto Protocol and the bodies such as the United Nations is theoretically positive but the implementation would obviously be spread over a huge span of time. Factors such as governmental resolve would be playing a huge role.
New challenges of the 21st century would not only imply that there would be a trial of human ingenuity but also its capacity to understand that there is no need for the big powers to plan wars and advance towards geographical or political expansionism. If the big powers do not abandon their plans to annex world oil resources and connive towards the so called great games, then there would be too much obsession with the military build-ups and the obliteration of the human race. The world political scientists would never stop coining phrases such as ‘The Clash of Civilizations’ and ‘The New Great Game’ but the reality would be that that they would now have to look closely at future water, food and land scarcity that climatic change would inflict the world over. Wars between rival nations such as Pakistan against India might be an option for war mongers but wars fought for scarce natural resources might actually end up destroying whatever sources this region has.
Where environmental consciousness is in the minds of the Pakistani and the world policy makers, droughts, floods, rising of sea level and temperature extremities have already intruded on ordinary lives. The government for the moment needs steps towards rehabilitation and preparedness towards unpredictable climatic moods. It would have to step along with the world as far as long term mitigation factors are concerned. The war on climatic change is therefore our major worry and it would be wise to consider taking the initial steps in this thousand miles journey.
The need is to understand that climate change is now a stark truth and long as well as short term remedial measures are need to be planned and undertaken without wasting more time.
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on Mountains and Climate linked issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last five years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in the Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>