Are we set to tackle upshot of climate change? | Pakistan Today

Are we set to tackle upshot of climate change?

It is not the first time elderly Saindad has heard about death due to hunger and diseases, and has seen corpses of animals scattered everywhere. Since his childhood, he has been hearing tragic stories that have now turned into disasters. He has migrated thrice after being hit with disasters.
He and other residents of the remote village located between the sand dunes of the Thar Desert left their homes when drought hit the area and a large number of people and animals started dying. He moved to Badin district, which is adjacent to the Thar Desert, but fate did not spare him there as well. In 1999, a tropical cyclone hit the district and he lost all his animals.
Then, in 2003, heavy rains devastated his area and he had to move again to another place within the district that was completely submerged by the monsoon flood, causing breaches in the Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD) – a project of the World Bank to drain the agricultural waste from the upper districts of Sindh into the Arabian Sea. Saindad’s father and grandfather always used to tell him about the painful stories of the notorious Chapano drought that killed hundreds of people in the Thar Desert and forced millions to migrate for survival.
As a man of the desert, Saindad had always heard stories about drought and water scarcity, but when this year’s monsoon flood and tropical cyclone hit Badin, the most backward district of Pakistan, it was an entirely new phenomenon for this elderly nomad. According to the figures recorded in August by the Pakistan Meteorological Department, Mithi received 1150mm rain, Nagarparkar 792mm, Diplo 779mm, Chachro 735mm, Mirpurkhas 676mm, Nawabshah 547mm, Badin 512mm, Chhor 456mm, Padidan 381mm and Hyderabad 249mm during a period of only two fortnights.
All this rainfall through the LBOD reached Badin and submerged a vast area of the district. The LBOD drain, which was designed to discharge 4,000 cusecs of water, had to bear 18,000 cusecs this year. Not only in the southern province of Pakistan, but climate change has caused record rainfall in other Asian countries as well. The extreme weather has affected millions of people across the continent.
Recent reports reveal that when severe rainfall was causing flooding in the southern parts of Pakistan, 750mm rain affected some 200,000 people in Rajshahi, Bangladesh; whereas in India, over 3,000 villages of the Orissa state were inundated, affecting over two million people.
Besides, in the Indian state of Bihar, rivers burst their banks; in the Indian capital city of New Delhi, a cloudburst broke a 50-year record of rainfall within a single hour; the South Korean capital city of Seoul received over 300mm rainfall in a single day; and Sri Lanka, Thailand and some parts of China also faced a similar situation.
Perhaps the time that scientists and climate change experts have been talking about for the past decade has arrived.
“It’s all because of the increasing population, the ruthless use of natural resources and the massive cutting down of forests,” said Saindad. He still remembers the massive desert forests in the Thar Desert during his childhood, but all those fields have now become barren.
He said, “I don’t have technical or scientific knowledge, but I know that trees and forests are important for maintaining balance in nature. And we have creating an imbalance in nature by cutting down forests.” Though weather experts, environmentalists and climate change experts have been talking about melting glaciers, shrinking coastal lands, depleting freshwater sources, vanishing forests and unprecedented flooding due to climate change and global warming, governments around the world have taken no notice.
Experts have warned that the coming years might prove more excruciating for communities in Pakistan and elsewhere in Asia. “If we look at the frequency and trend of extreme weather events impacting Pakistan, then it’s easy to find its connection with climate change. And every year, the intensity of disasters will increase,” said Climate Affairs Adviser Dr Qamaruz Zaman Chaudhry.
The importance the Pakistani government attaches to coping with the alarming situation of climate change in the country could be gauged from the fact that despite the passage of over three months, several rain- and flood-affected areas are still under water, and standing water is turning into another disaster for the people living in those areas.