Climate concerns


Shocking indeed

Already troubled by illiteracy, polio, terrorism, sectarianism, deficit, low growth, etc, Pakistan is now also set to suffer, in no small manner, from harmful effects of climate change. According to the World Bank’s latest report on the subject, ‘Shock Waves: Managing the Impact of Climate Change on Poverty’, failing urgent action Pakistan’s bottom 40 percent income groups will see their earnings erode by eight percent by 2030. The report also finds, not so surprisingly, that Pakistan is now lumped with sub Sahran Africa on the matter of adverse climate change effects. And that shows, among other things, just how low we have placed climate on our priority list.

Since climate directly affects food crops, the second round effect is particularly destructive, not just for the social structure that revolves around subsistence farming, but also the wider national economy. Pakistan is no stranger to output distortions caused, for example, by extended droughts; or flash floods that kill thousands, displace millions, destroy farmland and knock a couple of percentage points off the GDP rate every other year. It is shocking, though, that there is still no preemptive work done by relevant government ministries.

Much of the Third World has put off the climate matter for largely understandable reasons. There’s already much to worry about. Most already have abysmal levels of poverty. And unchecked corruption means whatever little funds are occasionally directed towards minor concerns like climate change are quickly grabbed. But such attitudes will have to change now. Climate change, and subsequent food inflation, can not only upset production and consumption patterns, but agflation has been known to uproot dynasties and make short work of even long standing rulers. Politicians here, too, will have to start worrying about the environment and climate, not just for the country’s and people’s sake, but their own. Perhaps in the interest f self-preservation they might also better the lot of the common man.