Climate change: Scarcity of Water in Karachi: Gloomy future of Pakistan (Rava Special Report)


Prominent meteorologists and climate researchers are warning in an increasingly drastic way of the effects of global warming. Everything is already said, according to Jens Thurau, who urges not to lose value.

Whoever has waited for tests, receives them now. Once again. A few days before the Bonn conference on climate change, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) states that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased as never before in 2016. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) ) warns that the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, in the best of cases, will lead to an average temperature rise of three degrees, and not to the increase being limited to two degrees or less. And the analysts of “Thomson Reuters Financial & Risk” point out that the 250 largest business groups in the world are responsible for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, a matter in which companies from India, Russia and the United States are very active. ahead.



International task

However, the central problem persists, despite all the scientific warnings: a consistent policy against climate change escapes the prevailing conventional political molds, especially in the main countries that cause it. The abandonment of fossil fuels is arduous, affects habits of life and frightens voters. And it does not report perceptible successes within an electoral period. Therefore, a clear policy against global warming remains difficult and constitutes an international task.

It is no use being scared of the new figures and alarming findings that always arise. The scenario for the fight against greenhouse gases is there, as is the conscience. The route is drawn. Now you do not have to surrender. Despite all the terrifying information.

Climate Change in Pakistan

Krachi, 2050: water is scarce, the price of bread is sky high and heat waves abound. Fiction or reality? Between the melting of the glaciers and the rampant demography Pakistan contains all the ingredients of a climate watchmaking bomb.

In this country plagued by Islamist violence and other energy shortages that slow down its economic growth, little is said about it. But the precursory signs are not lacking; it is enough to remember the floods of recent years or the 1,200 deaths from last summer’s heat wave.

And climate change also affects Pakistan, a Muslim country of 200 million people with three mountain ranges, the Hindu Kush, the Himalayas and the Karakorum, which form the world’s first ice reserve outside the poles.

The water from these northern summits supplies the Indus River and its tributaries to irrigate the rest of the country, from the Punjab plateaus (center) to the Sind delta, near Karachi (south), a city of 20 million inhabitants where the lack of water begins to be noticed.

The future of this country, where according to the UN will live more than 300 million people by 2050, depends in part on these glaciers and Passu, at the gates of China.

On its rocky slopes, the thaw is obvious. “When we came more than 25 years ago, the glacier reached the rock there,” 500 meters below, explains Javed Ajtar, a villager with a face tanned by the sun. He works for a team of glaciologists who measure the impact of global warming.

According to the authorities, temperatures in northern Pakistan rose by 1.9 degrees in a century, causing sudden breakdowns in the ice dams of glacial lakes, releasing torrents that drag everything in its path.

Today, some thirty glacial lakes are under observation in the north of the country.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the melting of glaciers in mountainous regions “should accelerate in the 21st century, which can reduce water reserves, hydroelectric potential and change trends of the seasons. ”

Put another way, the climate bomb in Pakistan not only threatens its glaciers, but the entire country, starting with the Punjab, known for the cultivation of cereals.

Threat to wheat

Despite its fast-paced demographics, Pakistan remains self-sufficient in agricultural terms, thanks mainly to the fertility of its Punjab lands.

But in recent years farmers have suffered unprecedented floods, such as those of 2010 (21 million people affected), caused by spectacular rains and monsoons and perhaps amplified by the melting of glaciers.

“When there is too much water, it is not good for rice, and when there is not enough, the same thing happens with wheat,” Mohsin Amin Chatha, producer of these two cereals, told AFP on the outskirts of Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab. .

Each variation in water level is a headache for farmers, who are exposed to losing crops if they sow too soon or too late. And for the authorities, who must store water in the tanks and then redistribute it.

The rest of the year, the farmers depend on the water of the rivers, especially the Indus, to irrigate their lands.

At the moment the production of rice and wheat continues to rise. But if one day the glaciers disappear “we would depend completely on the monsoon, and it is already changing,” explains Ghulam Rasul, head of Pakistan’s meteorological services. “All this has an impact on food security,” he adds.

If wheat production were to become insufficient, the country would have to import it, which would have an impact on the price of bread.

In recent years, global warming has been a hotly debated topic on the international agenda. This phenomenon of global temperature increase generates many consequences known as climate change effects, which cause major catastrophes and manifest themselves in various ways such as: sea level rise, intense storms, endangered species, droughts, heat waves, diseases , disappearance of glaciers, destruction of ecosystems, economic instability and even wars.

Since June 19, the Pakistani province of Sindh has experienced one of the effects of climate change, the heat wave, which in turn brings with it a series of diseases, fires and even deaths. The temperatures of this phenomenon have reached a maximum of 45 degrees centigrade, so the government of Pakistan declared a state of emergency mainly in the city of Karachi.

The situation is really critical, thousands of people are hospitalized in serious condition, and many others have died, the doctors of Jinnah Hospital in Karachi, say that the deaths are due to heart attacks, dehydration and other diseases that mostly affects adults over 60, a consequence of this heat wave.

When one of the effects of climate change occurs, it automatically triggers another, in this case most of the deaths have been in Karachi, capital of the province; As this is the economic center of the country, it is causing a decrease in commercial activities, it has even produced a certain degree of chaos. Another effect that accompanies the heat wave is the evident drought in the area: it has slightly rained one day since the phenomenon appeared, this does not allow the climatic temperatures to drop.

Heat waves are common in the area during the months of May and June. In May a heat wave resulted in 2 thousand deaths in India. Pakistan is not far from this reality, to date more than a thousand people are counted dead less than a week before the start of the event.

This heat wave in Pakistan has coincided with the beginning last Friday of Ramadan, the most sacred holiday for Muslims and which establishes the non-intake of food and drinks (fasting) between dawn and dusk for a month. The Central Committee of the Ruet-e-Hilal of Karachi, religious organization that determines the dates of Ramadan, pronounced itself emitting a fatwa (legal pronouncement in Islam) in which it allows the breaking of the fast by the emergency conditions before the phenomenon of hot.

Discontent in the population

As an additional aggravating factor, there are the discontents and protests that have arisen in some places in Karachi, the population blames the government for the poor management of the water supply and K-Electric, the main electricity company in the city, for being making increasingly frequent power cuts, exacerbating the crisis.

What measures have been taken to combat the emergency?

Among the measures to comply with the emergency is the closure of educational centers and government offices, except those that are being used as shelters. The medical staff has suspended their vacations and the army has been deployed to assist in the emergency.

In this regard, the Pakistani army has established 29 health centers in Karachi and other areas of Sindh, providing greater coverage of care for people affected by heat, in addition the national disaster management authority has provided water tanks in the city to mitigate the crisis situation.

Effects of heat

To illustrate the effects of heat it is necessary to know that the normal temperature of the body is around 37 ° C and 38 ° C, when presenting an increase in body temperature from 39 ° C to 40 ° C, the brain gives the muscles an alert to that loosen (fatigue), if the temperature continues to increase between 40 ° C to 41 ° C high degrees of exhaustion occurs. But the body has a temperature higher than 41 ° C, the body’s cells deteriorate and there is a risk of multiorgan failure.

In short, a heat wave occurs when the climatic temperature exceeds 40 ° C, in the case of Pakistan this rises to 45 ° C, which is totally alarming. Added to this phenomenon are many other aggravating factors such as the month of Ramadan and protests over water shortages and power cuts, which indicates that there is no real correlation of forces to counteract the consequences of the current emergency that the country. Pakistan needs medical attention immediately for thousands of hospitalized patients.

The effects of climate change do not come alone, they bring with them a series of challenges that evidently unleash uncertainty and commercial instability; In addition, attending these emergencies has a high economic cost, which is often not included in national budgets. This produces dissatisfaction in the population, which causes continuous complaints and protests. Although, climate change is a consequence that will take its toll on everyone, because it is irreversible, it is absolutely essential to work on effective strategies to adapt to climate change and mitigate the effects of this phenomenon as much as possible.

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Rava Desk

Rava is an online news portal providing recent news, editorials, opinions and advice on day to day happenings in Pakistan.


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