Climate Change Vulnerability Index and Pak position

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By Samina Shoaib and Faizan Wazir
IN THE Quran Allah says “In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of night and day, and the ships which run upon the sea with that which is of use to people, and the water which God sends down from the sky, thereby reviving the earth after its death, and dispersing all kinds of beasts therein, and the ordinance of the winds, are signs for people who have sense” (Quran 2 164).
These Quranic verses remind us an Islamic perspective on environment. However, in the search of better and easy life style, humans have adversely affected the environment. It is today a fact that the climate change is occurring and the temperature of the globe is increasing day by day and the condition is more serious in developing and poor countries of the world, having either little or no resources to cope with these changing environmental conditions.
The Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) has been currently published by the Maplecroft working as global risks advisory firm which will help in identifying plant and animal species that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of changing climate conditions. This index evaluates nearly 42 factors regarding the social, economic and environmental concerns in order to determine the national vulnerabilities across these three important areas. These focus on the revelation to climate-bound natural tragedies and rise in level of sea; the sensitivity of human beings with special emphasis on population patterns, their development, existing natural resources, dependency on agriculture and conflicts; thirdly, the index evaluates the future vulnerability by taking into account the adaptive capability of a countrys government and their existing infrastructure to cope with climate change.
The index rates 16 countries as extreme risk, like (1) Bangladesh, (2) India (6) Philippines, and (16) Pakistan, all feature in the highest risk category. The number of Pakistan has moved from 29th in 2009-2010 to 16th in 2011 and has been placed in “red zone”. The higher vulnerability of flora and fauna to changing climate in Pakistan might be correlated with ever increasing poverty, low education rates, political participation and representation combined with increased flood and drought hazards.
The productivity of agriculture (backbone of Pakistan economy) has been decreased due to increased prices of synthetic fertilizers, irregular rain fall, changing pattern of weathers, increasing salinity, sodicity and water logging of soil etc. Nearly 6000 plant species grow in Pakistan, of which more than 700 species are important for their medicinal value. A study conducted exhibited that out of 709 endangered plant species, 266 species are endemic to Pakistan.
Now, the most important question is how to combat the changing climate conditions and reduce the costs associated with it?. The answer to question is complicated, multidimensional and depends on government priorities. The government has to prioritize disaster risk reduction in order to reduce the cost of damage in future. The scientists should accelerate efforts to prevent impact of unusual climate changes especially on agriculture systems. There should be introduction of new crop varieties coping with the changing weather.
There should be proper utilization of modern technology like satellite imagery, information technology, and geospatial tools in the agriculture systems and awareness to the farmers about these modern methods. There should be public awareness regarding the occurrence of climate change and measures about avoiding climate change. The higher education and research institutes should be provided with funds to establish a strong infrastructure for studying climate change scenario in the country.
Special emphasis should be given on coastal cities like Karachi that is considered on high risk vulnerability towards adverse effects of floods which may occur suddenly of increasing water level in the sea. Measures should be taken for promoting sustainable forestry, because forests help in preventing climate change by serving as sinks for CO2. In current scenario of energy crisis throughout the country, special emphasis should be given on the development of green and renewable energy resources which will ultimately help in reducing the global warming.
As we know that our main source of energy is sun and the desserts receive more energy from the sun within six hours as the energy consume by human beings within a year. So, the government should encourage the private sector for investments in this field for building of new solar power plants.


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