Our Neglected Crusade


Abdullah Javed

Throughout, the history of our country, we have battled numerous crusades. Some were distinctively inflicted upon us, few were sore fruits of our own mischief; while, majority were an amalgam of the former two categories. A similar battle painted by the colors of this third category is Climate Change.
This ferocious battle has claimed 10,000 Pakistani lives in climate related disaster, from 1998 to 2018; moreover, according to Global Risk Index, this menace has costed Pakistan 4 billion dollars, while some analysts have estimated that Pakistan’s climate migrant over the past decade exceeds 30 million people; if this isn’t a disaster then what really would be.
The continuous hike in Celsius scale and worsening heat wave in Pakistan has recently been reported by US Storm Watch authority on 27th April as:
“Pakistan topped at a blistering 47°c(116.6F) today. This is the hottest temperature observed in Northern hemisphere in 2022”
But, the story didn’t stop here as on 30th April, 2022 Jacobad in Pakistan soared up to a scorching 49°C and that is one of the hottest temperature ever recorded on earth in April.
The reason to cite these numbers is simple: this crusade is grimmer than it sounds and harsh in reality that it affects each and everyone of us and demands our attention.
Lets explore efforts made at international arena to save us from this Frankenstein of developed states. For Pakistan and other climate change trampled states, United Nations Framework Convention On Climate Change, UNFCCC, spearheaded a battle in 1994 long before any of these under developed countries could grasp the situation. UNFCCC aimed to stabilize green house gas concentration at a level to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with climate change, but this was just a lofty stat, as yet alot had to come.
The first battalion set by UNFCCC to impede this seemingly invincible enemy was Kyoto Protocol. Being driven by the principle of
“Common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities”
The protocol followed annex based structure and placed heavier burden on developed states as it acknowledged the fact that they are mainly responsible for current high level of GHG emission in atmosphere.
This fact was further substantiated by Center For Climate And Energy Solutions which prepared the list of highest Green house Gas emitters and, unsurprisingly, U.S spearheaded the list and was followed by China and other E.U states respectively.
Harvard Political Review spotlighted a major hypocrisy, in this regard, which was being stirred to satisfy the victims of climate change. A movement to ban plastic straws was initiated around the world which had garnered massive media attention. Though this was an eco friendly movement, but the fact that plastic straws made only 1% of plastic waste give rise to an objection: what serious difference it will make given the magnitude of climate crisis. It further noted, only 100 investors and state owned fossil fuel companies are responsible for around 70% of world’s historical GHG emissions. This contradicts the narrative pushed by fossil fuel interests that individuals’ actions alone can combat climate change, as individual actions have minute effects relative to these emissions.
Paris Convention and Kyoto Protocol employed resources to reduce green house gases in accordance with agreed individual targets. But, even these targets set by developed state for themselves proved nothing but an illusion of diplomatic maneuver. As these obligations, which were perfectly decorated on shoulders of international community and Pakistan, developed countries got them shattered in a Sprint of capitalist, while Pakistan which was 33% forest at time of independence was only left with 4% of forest in a revolution of urbanization and housing societies. This unjustifiable greed basically landed Pakistan and other under developed states in havoc.
Though, Pakistan is responsible for less than 1% of global green house gas emissions, but its people will bear the burden of world’s worst polluters. So, just like any other motivational speech, it is evident that prime reasons behind this havoc can’t be controlled by us, but much can be done about our response to this problem. From climate influenced migration to crop yield reduction, Pakistan is losing this war at many fronts. Just for an instance consider its impact on agriculture and my recommendations in this regard. Since, 60% of our population is directly or indirectly reliant upon rain-led agriculture that depends upon predictable weather patterns. Further, the land in Pakistan is generally semi arid and 60% of the area receives less than 250mm of rain per annum, this becomes grimmer when we take into account the fact that our principle water reservoirs, Glaciers of Hindu Kush-Korakoram Himalayan, are melting rapidly. Even in urban areas, we are facing depletion of ground water resource. But, this isn’t our only issue. Erratic and unseasonal rainfall, heat stress and higher temperature too have badly affected out crop production.
In wake of these agarian issues, it is urgent for us to use efficient irrigation techniques like sprinkler, more water storage reservoirs like small dams will further help us. At the same time to conserve the dropping underground water level, we have to employ laser land levelling to reduce water shortage. Our fossils too are major emittors of GHG, so they must be replaced by new echo friendly fertilizer.
So, it is very imperative for our government and media to spare a few moments and think about the environment of our country. They have been inexhaustibly debating about the misery of Afghan but have paid little attention to this dying mother nature of Pakistan. Alas!