It is climate change stupid

Climate change is a real threat

Pakistanis are experiencing an unusual winter this season. First they faced extreme cold weather in the plains. The temperatures dropped to near 0 centigrade in plains of Punjab and KPK.

The government announced to extend the winter school holidays for a week. Now the mountain regions of the country are bracing heavy snow for last three days. The heavy snow has disrupted the daily life in many parts of the country. The roads have been blocked. People are stranded in the vehicles due to heavy snow fall.

According to the Dr Khalid Malik National Weather Forecasting Centre Director and Spokesperson of Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD)- this extreme weather and spell of extreme cold in  different parts of the country this year as compared to previous years due to climate change. The people are facing harsh weather as the impact of climate change. 

Pakistan, which has been listed as the 7th most vulnerable country affected by climate change, needs to  seriously tackle the vagaries of weather, both at the official as well as non-official level.

Climate change can generally be defined as a change in global or regional climate patterns. In particular, it is the change apparent from the mid-to-late 20th century onward, and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.

The Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in its Article 1, defines climate change as: “A change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods."

Pakistan has also suffered economically due to climate change. According to experts, Pakistan has faced around 150 freak weather incidents as a result of climate change in the past 20 years: flash floods, smog in winter, forest fires in summer, melting glaciers, freaky heatwaves, landslides, displaced population. 

During the floods in 2010-11, almost 10 percent of Pakistan’s population was displaced in two provinces, one in the north and another in the south. Last year, the cost of extreme weather as a consequence of climate change was listed at $384 million; in the past 20 years, there has been a cost of almost two billion dollars to the national economy because of the ravages of climate change. 

He further said that the winter season, which started in December was more intense than previous years and last month of 2019 was the coldest month of the year. He predicted that the temperature could drop further in coming weeks with change in the weather systems and temperature would reduce up to one or two degree Celsius in the country.

“Pakistan continues to bear the brunt of climate change due to which the winter season is now shrinking more and the summer season is prolonging,” said Dr Khalid.

Dr Khalid said due to this increasing snowfall in hilly areas, more water is expected in the rivers. Despite the onset of rains and snowfall this winter, rainfall and snowfall have been higher than usual. Snowfall over the mountains this winter would break the records for the past years, he added.

Climate change is bringing extreme weather pattern. The temperatures are rising in summer and dropping to lowest levels in winter. In last few days-the temperatures dropped to below -14 in parts of Baluchistan which never experienced such extreme winter.

Our government needs to take the impacts of climate change and global warming seriously to address them. The change in weather patterns and systems is affecting the crops and agriculture products. The unusual rains also damage the crops.

The Global Change Impact Studies Centre of Pakistan shows that the mean annual temperature has increased in the recent past with greater increase in Sindh and Baluchistan. During the last century, the average temperature over Pakistan has increased by 0.6°C, which is in conformity with the increase of the average global temperature.

 Future climate change projections, based on all four IPCC-AR5 RCPs scenarios, show that the average rise in temperature over Pakistan, by the end of the century, will be about 1°C higher compared to the global average.

 This increase, particularly in temperature, is associated with a number of adverse impacts, including the increasing frequency of extreme events (floods, droughts, heat waves, and cyclonic activity), steady regression of most glaciers (except a small minority in the Karakorum Range) that supply the bulk of the country’s water supply and changes in the rainfall patterns.

                                                                   The editor

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