Keep it down

  • Pakistan to must tackle climate change


The world climate is becoming steadily warmer, because its growing population contributes to climate change and global warming. The population of the world is at present 7.5 billion, due to touch almost 10.9 billion by 2100 according to a UN forecast. If the population continues to grow, as it seems set to, the results will be even higher temperatures, increased drought, more and stronger hurricanes, and a melting of one of the biggest reservoirs of water for this earth, the polar ice.

An increase in population may be the primary reason behind global warming but it is not the only one. Other factors that go hand in hand with larger populations are more gases which, trapped on earth, produce the greenhouse effect. These gases are methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide. There are others, but these are the worst offenders.

Methane is about thirty times as potent as carbon dioxide. Landfill waste, agriculture and the digestive processes of cattle are a major source. By inoculating cattle with certain probiotics these emissions can be brought down

According to the World Resources Institute, although agriculture contributes a quarter of all emissions, rice is the major offender, responsible for almost 1.5 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. There are ways of reducing this.

Nitrous Oxide yet another powerful greenhouse gas is produced when soil is cultivated and fertilizers used, when fossil fuel is burnt, and because of cattle urine. The greater the population the more soil needs to be cultivated, the more fuel is burnt, the more cattle we rear.

Carbon Dioxide has increased more than threefold in the earth’s atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, and as a result of deforestation, burning fossil fuel etc. For the increased population in Pakistan more trees are cut down for firewood and living space. We have seen severe deforestation in Pakistan within a single generation.

Every country aspires to produce more, and when it can, to consume more. It is no coincidence that China and the USA, the first and the third most populous countries of the world respectively, with highly consumer, industrialised societies, also have the greatest carbon footprints.

Education helps in almost every case, but the quality of education is what really counts. In Pakistan the concept of climate change and global warming is generally unknown, and not believed in if known

The UK has managed to bring down its carbon emissions. Although its population has increased, just 20 per cent of the country’s CO2 emissions in 2017 came from burning coal, oil and gas to produce electricity. This is down from 34 per cent in 1990 from the same source. This is because the UK is now burning just five per cent coal, down from 67 per cent in 1990, and just one per cent oil, down from 11 per cent in 1990. These fuels have been replaced to a great extent by gas, wind and bioenergy which are now producing electricity in the UK.

The China Pakistan Energy Corridor is heavily invested in coal to overcome the acute energy shortage in Pakistan. You wonder why, when Pakistan has such a plentiful supply of potential solar energy? Has the Pakistan government considered this?

The equipment to produce solar energy should be more affordable so that people can afford to use power privately as well as industrially to cope with their growing needs.

A major reason for the tremendous population growth in Pakistan and other similar societies is that the right-wing segment of society does not believe in population control, and has been allowed the power prevent it. It uses that power from the pulpit, supported by social norms. The government does not possess the courage to face down this opposition, and to educate this segment of society. If this is done Pakistan will be immensely better off in many ways. It will certainly possess a more sustainable population that might have the time to pay attention to its environment.

Women need easier access to birth control and control over their bodies. In an actual case, a contraceptive device placed in a woman by a doctor was removed by her mother-in-law. That is among the less horrific examples of the lack of control that women in this part of the world possess over their own bodies.

Our resources cannot keep up with the current population, let alone a drastically increasing one.

Education helps in almost every case, but the quality of education is what really counts. For clarification refer to the movie 3 Idiots. In Pakistan the concept of climate change and global warming is generally unknown, and not believed in if known. Given that most of the population of the country is illiterate anyway, it is easy to explain the drains choked with trash, mainly plastic that will never ever break down. We need to improve the quality of education and include practical demonstration, so that issues such as this can actually be witnessed to prove a problem exists, and people understand its magnitude.

Another aspect that needs attention is the quality and availability of waste management. In certain areas of the north of Pakistan, where the Indus flows through the valleys, the most common method of disposing waste is to throw it into this majestic river. When asked the people will tell you that they do this because there is no alternative. In Karachi, that richest and most populous of Pakistan’s cities, waste management has been given no attention by the government of the province. The result is as pointed out by Shaniera Akram, medical waste washing up on the beaches, and the havoc following this year’s monsoons.

We need a government that makes honest, competent and forceful, definitive decisions about this and the myriad other problems facing the country.