The modern world is well aware with the fact that the climate change has emerged as the most common and widespread threat on the planet Earth. The major dragging force behind climate change is greenhouse effect.
The means of trapping and retaining greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, methane coupled with water vapour and particulate matter, within Earth’s atmosphere. Around 90 percent of these noxious gases trap the infrared radiations. They reflect back recurrently until absorbed within atmosphere and cause abrupt variations in Earth temperature.
Human activities are the major source of this gaseous emission in the environment. Over 90 percent of U.N scientists have been agreed on the fact that over the past 50 years of human activities are responsible for preponderance of such changes in the environment.
During last century, overpopulation accelerated negative anthropogenic activities and has become a source of pollution, dragging the dynamics of the planet Earth from heaven to hell. Human activities are changing the natural balance of greenhouse contents through massive industrialization, misuse of resources, deforestation, burning of fossil fuels (oil and coal) and clearance of land for agriculture.
Keeping in view the human influence and contribution to induce and accelerate these factors the environmental experts have been enforced to use a new scientific term as ‘Human-Induced Global Warming’. As a consequence of this manipulated Earth’s atmosphere, the planet has gradually warmed to an alarming extent.
These factors contributed individually as well as collectively towards destruction of the environmental quality, which include the degradation of land, scarcity of fresh water, poor air quality, loss of biodiversity and land use changes. A lot of debates have been made on various international forums to identify the causes and factors responsible for climate change.
Although there are natural events that are causing such abrupt changes, but the global consensus highlights the human contribution as the significant source.
The prioritized growth in the economic and social life has been achieved through massive industrialization compromising the quality of environment. The mushroom industrialization over couple of decades has seriously affected almost every aspect of life in the society just to gain the economic output.
Although it has increased the overall productivity and improved our lifestyle, but on the flip side, the quality of our environment has been compromised and degraded to an alarming extent. This industrial revolution is contributing the core share of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide which shares 82 percent of the total greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
Carbon and climate change
Different scientific communications elaborate a strong link between concentration of carbon dioxide and Earth’s temperature because it interrupts the long wave infrared radiations and warms up the air. In addition to industrialization, burning of fossil fuels has also added up extra carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
Some agricultural activities from rice field’s causes emission of methane, decomposition of animal dung and exhaust of countless and unnecessary vehicles are also sources of injurious carbon mono and di-oxide gases.
Deforestation by means of cutting huge number of trees at the cost of building infrastructure and residential colonies has destroyed our natural filters to absorb these toxins leaving behind a clean healthy air.
Consequences of climate change
The ascending temperature figures are demonstrated in the form of intense heat waves and raised oceans natural level due to melting of ice caps and glaciers abruptly. The climactic crisis is also causing unpredictability in rainfall patterns around the globe.
Scientists from a variety of countries have analyzed their data to see what is going on in the precipitation records. Through careful observation, they concluded that in certain regions of world heavy precipitation events are becoming heavier that result in flooding, while in other regions lower than the average rainfall is causing scarcity of drinkable water and land are becoming barren due to drought.
This steep trend in climate change is continuously degrading the environment and its effects are visible throughout the world.
Pakistan stands as 7th most vulnerable country that has been affected dramatically due to climate change. Since year 2005, we are facing practical demonstration of climate change through huge disasters in the form of human mortality and destruction of resources.
People in different regions suffer from different kind of natural calamities including floods, droughts, intense heat waves, and salinity. Climate change is a red flag for life in Pakistan. Prime Minister’s Task Force on Climate Change gave its findings that flood risks are compounded in the last decade due to intense and unscheduled rains and melting of Himalayan glaciers.
These floods are affecting almost around 715,000 people annually, causing a loss of 2.7 billion US dollars. The statistics of people affected by floods are expected to reach 2.7 million between 2015- 2030. These floods, off and on, are striking the populated areas causing wide range of damage. The aftermath of which sustains for rest of the year.
A series of catastrophic floods occurred in Pakistan for five consecutive years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 in which 7 million people were killed and displaced from their hometowns. In addition to this, there were losses of standing crops, livestock, infrastructure and huge damage to economy of the country.
Weeks of flooding inundated every province of the country affecting 0.30 million hectare land in southern Sindh province and 0.05 million hectare in the adjacent Baluchistan province. Extreme damage to human life, infrastructure and crops in 0.42 million hectare land of Punjab and 0.05 million hectare in KPK province was also devastating.
According to environmental activists, flooding is a phenomenon that is going to affect our lives for a very long time; therefore, it must be catered rationally. Protection of forests, construction of new dams, proper desilting of existing dams, early predictions and proper flood management strategies can calm down the potential risks associated with floods.
The blazing heat of sun along with unusual heat radiation has become a challenge for people in the summer season. The scorching heat waves start gripping the country as the summer season approaches in Pakistan in the first week of May.
The heat waves engulf dozens of lives in different provinces of the country. In the southern Sindh province, the most vulnerable area is Karachi, the biggest city of Pakistan where heat wave killed over 1000 people. According to health officials, most of them were killed due to heat stroke.
Punjab province has also witnessed hottest summers in the recent years as the temperature has been consistently hovering over 45 degrees. Along with damages to human life, high intensity heat can also initiate drought and famines through water scarcity.
According to World Bank, Pakistan is ranked 3rd among water-starved countries. Being an energy-starved economy, the shortage of water has become even more challenging for Pakistan.
The Director General of Pakistan Metrological Department reported that the heat waves and water shortage would be more frequent and critical in the coming years. Therefore, the government authorities must put all relevant departments on red alert as it is caution that same disasters will repeat every year.
In addition to this, the heat wave threat can be controlled through afforestation and restriction on deforestation, use of green roofs, strengthening the climate change policies and public awareness through seminars and conferences.
All the outcomes of climate change are ultimately affecting the country’s agriculture. Farming, which is absolutely essential for Pakistan, is threatened by climatic changes for the last couple of decades. The population of Pakistan is growing at a rate of 3.2 percent, which may pass 3 million by 2050.
Pakistan, will not be able to remain sufficient in agricultural terms. It is affecting every aspect of food security from accessibility and availability to utilization and stability. Climate change is also having impact in the form of rising temperature and changing precipitation patterns that is endangering the stability of our economy and livelihoods indirectly through agricultural losses.
The summers are much hotter and rainfall patterns are abruptly shifting from very intense to almost no rainfall. Therefore, floods and droughts have become common as the rainfalls are not taking place at the right time. When our farmer needs them, they do not take place and when they overcome the shortage, it starts to rain.
In short, there is no set pattern for rainfalls and these extreme variations in water levels cause headache for farmers who are losing their crops.
Due to the heat waves, floods and water scarcity, the future looks bleak for Pakistan. A country already threatened by terrorism and energy crisis, environmental issues is rarely at the top of the agenda. Therefore, we need to prepare our agriculture against the threat of global warming.
It is pertinent to revisit our agro-ecological zone according to the existing climatic patterns. Moreover, investments in technology, with the advancement of policy and the advancement of finances, all of these together, are needed in order to make us able to combat the threat of climate change which seems rather impossible. But, this can happen through the use of technology.