This summer, Pakistan has seen some of the most intense monsoon rains in years, with thousands of homes and buildings destroyed and more than 200 people observed dead after the flash floods halted, according to the country's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
This is coming 5 years after the infamous heat wave in Karachi, the metropolitan giant of Pakistan that is home to approximately 16 million people. The heat wave not only claimed the lives of countless zoo animals and livestock used for agriculture, but it surmounted a massive death toll of more than 2000 people in the city, making emergency clinics being set up for hydration and restoration as bodies dropped left and right. Getting a body in a morgue seemed like a luxury at this point, as they were filled up quite quickly, forcing non profit organizations to conduct mass burials in the outskirts of the city as heat stroke victims piled up. Such is the reality of the areas affected by the monsoon season, the season changing winds in Southern Asia that have been growing more drastic each year.
Cities like Karachi observe heat waves and droughts for many years and then all of a sudden are stormed by heavy gusts carrying downpour, enough to flood the entire city for weeks on end. With vehicles submerged in rainwater and people trapped in their homes without access to internet and electricity, the residents of the city can blame the flash floods for their apocalypse-esque situation, but who is to blame for this flooding? The answer: Global Warming.
Global warming is caused by the excessive emission of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. China, the US and other industrialized countries are the major contributors to greenhouse gas emission. Pakistan is not even in the list of top ten nations responsible for global warming. But unfortunately, it is on the seventh number in the list of the most affected countries by global warming.
Due to global warming, the global temperature has already increased by 2 degrees Fahrenheit since its first recording in the 1880s. Karachi will either face continuous drought or sudden heavy rainfall in its future. It will affect the annual pattern of rainfall as the monsoon season grows more drastic and dangerous. It could cause six months of rain to fall in one or two days to paralyze both the urban city and its rural outskirts, both of which are heavily populated.
The high variability in weather also affects agriculture, which is the largest sector of the economy. Major crops and cash crops will both deplete and farmers will be less eager to sustain their lands, thus global warming is laying the agricultural sector in ruins. This causes a domino effect to take place because when economic growth is put on hold, rural-residing citizens will be subjected to poverty and further malnourishment, which will then bring about its own effects and consequences. Global warming will also cause the sea level to rise substantially, which endangers the whole city of Karachi as it rests on the coast of the Arabian Sea.
Essentially, industrialized nations are the most responsible for the existential threat of global warming and climate change posed to Karachi and countless other cities across the world. Pakistan is in an extremely dangerous predicament and is exposed to the severe impacts of climate change like the high range in weather as seen in Karachi. The most concerning fact though, is not the effects of climate change that have happened, but the effects that will continue to take place and claim lives in larger numbers if we do not act now to save our environment and halt the growth of global warming. There needs to be a proper understanding of climate change and effective short and long-term planning in order for us to get anywhere with this situation.