It goes without saying that life cannot survive on earth without the desired heat, recognize as the positive factor of Global warming, but heat behind one’s capacity is no less than a danger zone for existing life on such green planet. It is true that millions of people are already suffering from the catastrophic effects of extreme weather disasters as result of climate change. It includes prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa, devastating tropical storms in Southeast Asia, Caribbean and the Pacific. The Climate change is one of the most important global environmental challenges facing humanity. Since 2022, April, South Asian nations including Pakistan, India and Bangladesh have been experiencing an unpredictable heat wave that has seen some areas touch 50°C (104°F).
The Climate change is a long-term shift in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts are may be natural. However, since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driving force of climate change, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas. It has contributed to increasing heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in the Earth’s atmosphere.
As of 2023, the alarming bells ring around the increasing hot weather, as a ramification of climate change and global warming. In South Asian States, particularly the developing country likes Pakistan which mainly comprises dry or cold areas with low production potential. It has severely implicated the food production, natural ecosystems and fresh water supply. The harmful impacts of climate change have manifested themselves around the world in the form of extreme weather. Events like storms, cyclones, floods, and droughts are the glaring outcome of such menace.
Woefully, Pakistan has been hit hard by the implication of climate change that has been changing at an alarming rate. It is another looming thread besides economic turmoil and population bomb for struggling county like Pakistan, a poor state on map of Asian continent. According to climatepromise.undp.org, Pakistan stood at 146 in Climate Vulnerability Index ranking. It has been ranked in top ten of the countries, most affected by climate change in the past 20 years. Between 2000 and 2019, the Germany-based organization ranked Pakistan as the 8th most affected country.
The Scorching temperatures especially during the period of last five years i.e., 2018 to 2022 have caused deadly heat waves which are a record-breaking; it is severely impacting the daily lives of nearly a billion people. The affected countries include India, Croatia, Portugal, Spain, France, China and North Africa. The UK witnessed its hottest year on record in 2022, according to the national weather service. Its average annual temperature was 10.03 degrees Celsius last year, breaking 10°C for the first time, and the highest since records began in 1884. The 2022 average was 0.89°C above the 1991 to 2020 averages, and 0.15°C above the previous hottest year 2014. These all the 10 warmest years have occurred after 2003.
In 2023, Pakistan is also under the deadly cloud of such Worrisome Heat wave. The Severe Flooding and very limited access to adequate food is the life threading consequence of such warm wave. The bad news for country floating on news channels is early summer in February. However, the highest temperatures recorded in March-May of 2022 as reported by the renowned Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) that the summers in Pakistan will start as early as February. The people will forget the ongoing chilling weather and welcome the early beginning of summer in the country. The average temperatures will be between 20°C and 29 C °.
The onset of summer will be sooner than usual due to the impacts of climate change. There will be a decline in average rainfall during Feb-April with a chance of heat wave in plains. The wave will hit Punjab, particularly Lahore in February. The maximum temperature in summer’s sizzling weather can hit 45 degrees Celsius in the hot regions due to less rainfall. It is open secret that May are extremely high, between 28°C and hot as 36°C .The Climate change will have an impact on the country’s environment and population.
Furthermore, Acceding to Scientists, these heat waves are linked with the climate crisis. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that the frequency of such severe heat waves is likely to increase in the future in the region. One of the most alarming effects of the “torrid” heat wave is the accelerated melting of Pakistan’s glaciers in the north.
The climate change has left no stone unturned in impacting the County. According to studies carried out, Pakistan’s 22.8 percent area and 49.6 percent population is at risk due to its impact. The recent floods of August, 2010 owing to the collapse of pocket of monsoon rains in Wazirastan and Northern Areas and the tormenting rains of 2022 have hit hard the country which caused colossal losses to dwindling economy and agriculture sector. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) gave statistics that hundreds of kilometers of roads, railway lines, tubewells, crops, electricity transmitters, bridges, cattle, houses and schools have been damaged. Furthermore, more than 400 children are missing; eight hundred thousand people remain stranded in flood waters. It is the exemplary result of climate change. Pakistan is vulnerable to the effects of climate change which has occurred due to rapid industrialization with substantial geopolitical consequences. The country is at a crossroads for a much warmer world.
Moreover, the most serious threat from climate change in Asia is freshwater availability which is to decline especially in large river basins. It will adversely affect more than a billion people by the year 2050. Pakistan receives around 80% of water in the Indus Basin System from the melting of glaciers and snow melting. The rise in temperature would, interact with the availability of flows. The Water and Power Development Agency (WAPDA) stated that more water was likely to be available in the earlier periods and now it is less in volume of glaciers and less snowfall. The per capita surface water availability plunged from 5260 m3 per year in 1951 to just 1000 m3 in 2008. It is sadden to learn that a decrease in average river flows has serious implications for agricultural production; as 93% of fresh water is used for irrigated agriculture.
It is true that Pakistan is an agrarian state. A large chunk of its economy solely depends on agriculture sector. The country is more susceptible to the effects of changing climate because of its agrarian base and high dependency on natural resources for livelihoods. As a result of weather changes, it would make changes in cropping and productivity. High temperatures may shorten the Rabi crop growing season’s length in Sindh and Punjab. It will ultimately affect the poor rural communities of the country.
Not last but least, the health sector is not excluded from the bad impact of Heat wave. As a result of drastic climate change, it would welcome many diseases such as malaria, dengue, cholera and other chronic health issues. These are known to be sensitive to climatic factors. The warmer weather facilitates a more favorable environment for mosquitoes and other disease carrying pest. An increase in epidemic potential of 12-27 percent for malaria and 31-47 percent for dengue is anticipated as a consequence of climate change scenarios.
For tackling and mitigating the raising adverse consequences of heat wave as outcome of worst climate change in contemporary era of 21st century, the government of Pakistan has made headways such as ensuring the improvement in technological responses using early warning systems, enhancing the disaster preparedness climate change resilience using information systems and by improving forest management and biodiversity conservation.
Not last but lease, the list goes on, Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme, with the project cost of Rs. 125.184 billion, has been initiated by incumbent government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; it aimed at planting 10 Billion Tree across the country to revive the Forest and Wildlife resources and improve the overall conservation of the existing Protected Areas in country. In addition to it, The World Meteorological Organization will introduce a two-tier approach for maintaining the operational needs for up to date climate information. Pakistan also made efforts for arranging International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan 2023 which went successful on 9 January 2023 in Geneva, Switzerland.
In a nutshell, for getting the rid of rising heat wave day to day and coping up the thread of climate change, it is need of hour for developing country like Pakistan to take more drastic measures in efficient manner. The country must shift to 60% renewable energy, and 30% electric vehicles by 2030 and ban coal imports as well as expand the nature-based solutions. The incumbent government must focus on providing subsidy to common man on purchasing eco-friendly solar panels for renewable energy consumption at domestic level besides shifting climate preference to ecological preservation. It is right time to chalk out effective national energy and industrial policies for climate mitigation by reducing or avoiding GHG emissions. It is high time, every common citizen involved in fighting climate change to work together by sharing climate change solutions besides increasing greenery in their neighboring areas.
It is time for world members to rub shoulders for worldwide collaboration in climate action. There is dire need of Promoting the scientific research and technological development in key areas of climate change and Global Adaptation under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Population planning must be considered in human development-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce production of all greenhouse gases through human activities. In addition to it, extensive tree plantation should not be ignored at any cost to reduce carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. It is high time for rich countries in North America and Europe to step up and help at global level.