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Impacts of climate change on world stability

By Muhammad Amin

Global warming is caused by increase in world temperature due to change in climate patterns. This has become the hot topic of the present century as catastrophic climate events keep on ravaging the planet earth, annihilating entire villages and towns and financially crippling affected economies.

Human activities are mainly responsible for global warming which include burning of fossil fuel, discharge of excessive smoke from factories and vehicles and depletion of forests have led to an increase in green house gasses, mainly carbon dioxide, methane, chloflourocarbons and nitrous oxide etc. This has been established by the United Nations `report prepared by the World Meteorological Organization on September 22, 2019 that states that the temperature is currently estimated to be 1.1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial period of 1850-1900, and 0.2 degrees warmer than 2011-2015.

Overall the negative impacts of climate changes have been felt in the recent century which have badly damaged socioeconomic situations. Shrinking of forest and wetlands, damages to marine ecosystem, desertification of certain areas, upward migration of plants and extinction of certain species are some of the indication of impacts on environment. Extremities in weather are accelerated cyclones and hurricanes, floods and heavy snowfalls, severe droughts and long summers and short winters. As impacts on water reservoirs can also be not ignored globally which include melting of glaciers, decrease in fresh water supply and rising sea level etc. There have many agreements and protocols on the part of the world leaders to mitigate the effects of the climate change on humanity and environment such as the Montreal Protocol (1987) Kyoto Protocol (1997), Paris agreement 2015 and UNO Conference on  Climate Change of 2019.

Before 2005, there was no government policy to tackle effects of climate changes in Pakistan. But the devastating earthquake of 2005 provided a wake- up call to the policy makers in the country. After the earth quake government established National Disaster Ordinance and under the ordinance National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was formed.

Climate Changes impacts have effected Pakistan in recent times. Global warming is caused due to increase in green house gases (GHGs) as fossil fuel, accelerated discharge of smoke from vehicles and factories and depletion of forest. These gases disrupt the balanced system of stratosphere by trapping sun ultraviolet rays which are responsible to increase the overall temperature of the globe. Global warming has emerged as one of the biggest threads to our planet and the earth has increased to 0.74 degree Celsius over the last 100 years leading to flood, famine, droughts and cyclones among other natural disasters.

Although Pakistan is a very little contributor to the overall emissions of green house gases (GHGs), yet it remains one of the severally hit countries of the world by the process of global warming. Global warming has affected Pakistan in many ways. Pakistan ranks 16th on the Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) by Maple Croft. German Watch also places Pakistan as most affected place for 2010 and in top 10 for 1990-2010 by climate change. Pakistan’s poor environmental sustainability, poverty, unemployment, high death rate, poor infrastructure and health care are also main hurdles to cope with climate changes effect. During the last century, the average temperature in Pakistan has increased by 0.6 C, which is in conformity with the increase of the average global temperature. Future climate change projections show that the average rise in temperature in Pakistan by the end of the century will be about 1C higher compared to the global average. This increase is associated with a number of adverse impacts including the increasing frequency of extremes events (like floods,droughts,avalanches,heat waves and cyclone and hurricanes), steady regressions of most glaciers except a small one Karakoram range that supply bulk of the country`s water supply and changes in rainfall patterns.

Floods have played with the assets and human lives of the people of Pakistan which are recurrent since 2000. The worst floods in Pakistan occurred in 2010 -11 and 2015 and 2016. According to an estimate Pakistan lost around 2 billion dollars apart from numerous lives loss due the severe floods. Pakistan also experienced devastating loss of crops, animals and poultry due to droughts in Balochistan and Sindh provinces due to lack of water resources and this is recurring like in Thar of Sindh. Disruptions in climate patterns have brought casualties for Pakistan in the form of severe heat waves and which are recurring every summer mostly in Sindh and Punjab provinces. Other climate changes related events are severe avalanches and land sliding in the mountainous areas of Pakistan killing many lives and destroying residential areas.

Chitral which is situated in the extreme north of KP province is a relatively peaceful region settled by people who are lovers of peace, harmony and having simple habits and way of life. They have enjoyed life living very close to the nature and its beauty since time immemorial. But the geographical landscape has made Chitral more vulnerable to climate change effects in the last three decades, recurrent disasters of floods, avalanches, GLOF and slidings. However, most cases of loss of life have caused by avalanches in the vulnerable areas also engulfing school students. So far no sustainable emergency contingency plan has been developed so far to cope with disasters in proper and effective manner.

The office of District Disaster Management Unit (DDMU) is only symbolic and DDMO and be seen active only during disasters. There is no strong mechanism of coordination among the stakeholders. Such coordination can be found only during disaster for distributing reliefs (food and non food items) and then during evacuation to some extent. As Chitral is counted among the most vulnerable areas in Pakistan, so there is the need of holistic approaches to all the four pillars of disaster management, ie.preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation/reduction to protect the lives and assets of the community of Chitral.

Although Pakistan is facing environmental challenges, which include climate change impacts, loss of biological diversity, deforestation and degradation of air and water quality, Pakistan is trying to respond well. Because of the deteriorating economy, the country could not do much. But still, the present government has launched the Ten Billion Trees Tsunami Programme to lead the country toward aiming at revival of forestry and control air, weather, wildlife, forestation, watershed management, and soil conservation to combat the negative impacts climate change.

Pakistn is among the pioneers who have established a climate ministry. The country has also launched the climate change policy 2012. The National climate Change comprehensively addressed all possible challenges of climate change and provides a foundational framework to tackle the problem. But Pakistan alone cannot do it. It is a global issue and the whole of the world is at stake and it is time that the UNO along with all member states do not let the grass grow under its feet and act now to save the earth.

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