Climate disaster and preparedness


As world leaders are preparing to gather at the UN climate summit, COP27, to be held at Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharam al Sheikh next month to weigh options for workable strategy on climate crisis, Pakistan is reeling from the colossal damages wreaked by monsoon rains, which triggered flash flooding across the width and breadth of the country. The massive flooding, ascribed to effects of climate change and global warming, inundated one-third of Pakistan. Floodwaters have swept away thousands of kilometers road network, bridges and property across the country. According to official statistics, the worst flood disaster affected over 3.3 million people across the country and over 1600 people, women and children among them, lost their lives to the disaster. Millions have been rendered homeless. Standing crops and businesses all over the country were destroyed. The floods left a trail of death and destruction along its trail. All looks as if the Nature has gone punitive and intends to inflict punishment on the humanity for its interference. Large swathes of the country still remain underwater. Efforts by the government and the international community continue to provide the flood stricken population food, shelter and other necessary means of life. The colossal destruction forced the United Nations to revise upward a flash appeal for aid from $160 million to $816 million to cope with the magnitude of the disaster and save those struggling to survive in the aftermath of the floods.
Though the government has been taking all possible steps to overcome the climate induced disasters with the help of foreign governments and donor agencies, the real solution to the issue of clime change lies in the understanding of climate phenomena and its implications for the country’s economy and how it will shape and influence future development policies.
The flood disaster brought United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to Pakistan in September to see the climate-induced natural disaster in the country. He said that those adding to planet warming emissions had to pay to those who have little or no role in the greenhouse gas emissions.
It is increasingly getting evident from the recent floods, prolonged drought, wildfires, record-breaking temperatures and windstorms on all continents of the world that climate change related disasters are rapidly affecting the life support system of human and other species on the planet Earth.
The geographical location of Pakistan makes the country all the more vulnerable to the devastating impacts of climate change, which, as is clear from the recent floods, is a major threat to the country’s economy. Back-to-back floods of 2010 and 2011, and now 2022 prompted not only the government of Pakistan to mobilize all resources to secure the country from the impending climate catastrophe, but the recent floods in Pakistan also woke up the entire international community to figure out ways and means to overcome the impact of natural disasters.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif actively pursued the case of the flood-hit population of his country on international platforms, including at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan and the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month. In his meetings with world leaders, the prime minister called for climate justice and appealed to the world to share the burden of the climate crisis. The PM told the world delegates that Pakistan produced less than one percent of the planet-warming gases, yet the country was the eighth on the scale of the most vulnerable nation to the climate crisis. Environmental degradation has created a number of challenges to the Pakistani nation. Foreseeing its peculiar vulnerabilities, the incumbent government and its foreign office should be more focused to take stock of the looming challenges. It is not enough to heap the blame on the Nature. The recent flood disaster points to undue human intervention in the natural processes, like blocking the waterways and encroaching upon natural habitat. We need to educate the nation on the climate issue. When we disregard the niceties of Nature and interfere in its workings, we are doomed to suffer.