Aftab Mohmand

Climate change is a phenomenon that extends far beyond the scope of mere days, weeks, or months. It encompasses the transformative shift in average weather patterns on a global scale, giving rise to what we commonly refer to as global climate change. While fluctuations in seasonal norms have occurred throughout Earth’s history, it is essential to focus on the current issue of global warming and climate change.

According to Mushtaq Ali Shah, a renowned meteorologist, and former Chief Meteorologist, any percentage change in temperature over the past century is considered an indicator of climate change. What is concerning is the rapid acceleration of this temperature shift in recent years. In the first 70 years, the temperature difference stood at 4°C, but within the subsequent 30 years, it surged to 6°C. This alarming increase implies that various factors are driving significant shifts in temperature.

Numerous causes have been attributed to climate change, with global warming being a prominent factor. The overuse of oil and fuel, emissions from vehicles, factories, and power plants, radioactive materials from nuclear facilities, widespread deforestation, and the burgeoning global population all contribute to this environmental crisis.

Also Read: Combating Fake News: Unveiling the Truth Behind Dr. Zubair’s Tragic Death

Experts assert that the role of oil and fuel consumption stands out as the most influential among these causes. Its effects are increasingly manifesting worldwide, leading to rising sea levels, erratic rainfall, and snowfall patterns, diminished crop yields, devastating floods and storms, extreme heatwaves and cold spells, water scarcity, and adverse impacts on both human and animal health.

Mushtaq Ali Shah points to the recent hurricane in Karachi as a manifestation of this chain of events. It marked the city’s first encounter with such a storm in nearly four decades. As temperatures fluctuate, the patterns of rainfall, flooding, and winds also change. Observations spanning many years have revealed the occurrence of unpredictable winds, sudden downpours, dangerous storms, and even devastating floods—a phenomenon known as the “Intensity of occurrence.”

To underscore the global challenges posed by global warming, it is important to highlight a few examples. Christian Aid, a charitable organization, published research identifying ten extreme events resulting in losses exceeding $1.5 billion each. Among these events were Hurricane Ida in the United States and subsequent floods in Europe. These floods and storms have forcibly displaced large populations in impoverished regions, subjecting them to severe hardship.

The recently released climate impact report by the UN’s climate experts, aptly titled the ‘Atlas of Human Suffering,’ serves as a stark warning of the perils confronting our planet and its inhabitants. Dr. Friedrich Otto, a leading global researcher, emphasizes in his tweets that climate change caused by human activities has intensified the frequency and severity of heat waves worldwide.

May 29, 2023, witnessed a scorching day in Shanghai, China, breaking the record for the hottest May day in a century. Similar instances abound in countries and regions across the globe, illustrating the widespread impact of climate change.

While an in-depth exploration of international efforts to mitigate these changes could merit a separate article, it is worth noting that annual conferences have been held since 1992, bringing together representatives from different nations to negotiate and devise actionable plans by consensus. One notable example is the 2015 COP21 conference held in Paris, France, attended by over 30,000 individuals, including heads of state from 190 countries.

Turning our attention to Pakistan, the devastating floods that struck the nation in July and August of the previous year remain etched in the collective memory. The deluge resulted in the loss of over 1,700 lives, affecting a staggering 33 million people nationwide. The floods wreaked havoc on settlements, crops, vegetables, gardens, and various infrastructures, culminating in an estimated economic loss of $30 billion. By October 2022, the number of internally displaced people had reached 8 million, adding to the already dire consequences of the floods.

Former Chief Meteorologist Mushtaq Ali Shah highlights that last year witnessed significant flood damage in our country due to the lack of preparations to control such a massive disaster, a situation similar to the rest of the world. Many countries have robust early warning systems, unlike what we experienced before the flood. Controlling water in our country poses immense difficulties as the old waterways no longer exist.

Mushtaq Ali Shah cites the example of Swat Kalam, where people have settled along the riverbanks without proper provisions for their safety, and hotels have been constructed without considering their security.

Even in the plains, the extent of damage would have been less if arrangements for dams had been in place on the Kabul River in the Nowshera district and the Indus River in Dera Ismail Khan. Settlements have encroached upon waterways, and due to the absence of defined routes, water directly impacts the population, leading to damage. Similar situations exist in Sindh, Balochistan, and other parts of the country where the traditional water routes no longer exist.

The absence of a comprehensive rainwater collection system throughout the country is notable. By implementing such a system, losses can be reduced, and water levels can be restored. Collecting rainwater offers opportunities to enhance the country’s agricultural system and construct rain dams.

In urban areas, the lack of a reliable “rechargeable system” for drains becomes evident during rainfall or floods. The existing system is either absent or too weak, resulting in immediate damage as water enters. This issue was particularly noticeable in the inner city last year. In contrast, countries like Japan have constructed regular tanks in house basements to collect rainwater, while in our country, valuable water resources go to waste.

Mushtaq Ali Shah highlights the consequences of widespread deforestation across the country, especially in mountain ranges, which have contributed to the impending effects of global warming. For instance, in the Chitral district, water flows rapidly and directly impacts the population during rainfall due to the absence of forests that are used to slow down the water flow.

Additionally, the agricultural system in our country has weakened, and the construction of illegal housing societies, business centers, factories, and unnecessary structures has inflicted severe damage to vegetation, leading to the disappearance of grass. As a result, water is not adequately absorbed, causing immediate damage due to rapid flow.

Climate change has not only affected weather patterns, the environment, and agriculture but has also resulted in the emergence of diseases and epidemics. Instances of diseases like asthma have increased, and epidemics such as dengue have been spreading over the past few years. Moreover, sudden outbreaks of dangerous diseases have been observed in crops and gardens.

Greenhouses, crucial for weather regulation, have also suffered significant impacts. These structures enable people to control temperature and humidity, typically featuring large transparent areas to harness sunlight and heat.

The increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to industrial development has contributed to a gradual rise in global temperatures, which directly affects us.

According to Mushtaq Ali Shah, the atmosphere has become heavily polluted, consequently affecting humidity levels. Individuals may experience sudden heat during cold weather or temporary cold spells during summer due to these changing weather conditions. Additionally, our poor sanitation system exacerbates the situation. Globally, the use and emissions of 12 to 13 different types of gases severely damage the atmosphere, leading to direct consequences related to global warming.

Mushtaq Ali Shah emphasizes the urgent need to plant more trees in our country, considering the global issue of global warming. To combat this, significant reforms are required in sectors such as agriculture, energy, and population structure, as well as the preservation of forests and a shift in agricultural practices.

Afsar Khan, Deputy Director of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Environmental Protection Agency, acknowledges that Pakistan, like the rest of the world, has been affected by global warming. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa holds great significance as it houses 9 out of 11 ecosystem relationships found worldwide. These ecosystems include forests, rivers, agriculture, mountains, livestock, and glaciers. The only ecosystem missing in our province is the sea. Thus, the effects of global warming have also negatively impacted the system of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

According to Afsar Khan, recent findings indicate that wheat production in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is being affected, with projections showing a decrease by 2040, primarily due to unseasonal rains. When wheat grains reach maturity, unseasonal rainfall occurs, resulting in the spoiling of the crop and decreased production.

An advantage of ecosystem influence lies in adapting to changing conditions. If one crop’s production is decreasing, it should be replaced with another crop. For instance, mustard can be grown instead of wheat. Similarly, if certain crops or vegetables cannot thrive, alternatives should be explored and cultivated. The pattern of crop production should adapt to the challenges posed by global warming.

Afsar Khan explains that the livestock sector is also affected by global warming. During extreme summers, animal reproduction declines due to discomfort. Additionally, milk production decreases as animals require frequent watering in hot weather. Insufficient water intake leads to reduced milk quantity.

In 2017, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government approved an action plan for climate change policy. The plan included legislation against housing societies on agricultural land, the introduction of a risk management system to protect crops from climate change, the establishment of a climate change unit, tax reductions for the agriculture sector, reforms in agriculture, fisheries, and livestock, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, prediction of potential damages from climate change, development of climate models, improvement of livestock feed, forest protection, the establishment of wastewater treatment plants, installation of solar water heaters in commercial and public buildings, and enhancement of fish farms, rainwater harvesting, and water conservation. These guidelines are applied to all relevant institutions, including those related to forests, fisheries, and transport.

The policy includes 199 adoption methods and 147 mitigation methods, allowing for the design of individual projects based on specific strategies.

It is crucial to note that the policy’s scope has been extended to the former FATA, now merged districts. The provincial government has undertaken various measures, such as the BRT project, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, numerous projects have been initiated in the northern regions to preserve and increase the breeding of different animal species.

The construction of multiple rain dams in the province brings multiple benefits, including energy production and water conservation. However, the full implementation of the Climate Change 2017 policy would be historic not only for the country but also for the world, in efforts to mitigate global warming.

Hits: 43