Climate change is something that has become prevalent in today’s world as we witness the increase in not only the rate of greenhouse gas emissions but also natural disasters and heatwaves. It is no longer something abstract that we can pin on to the future generations as their problem. Instead, it has turned into something tangible and concrete that we are witnessing with our own eyes.
This constant climate change occurring around the globe begs the question: what do these climatic changes have to do with the socio-economic structure of Pakistan?
Why should we be worried about climate change?
There is no doubt that climate change impacts are not evenly distributed, where poorer nations face the greatest consequences of colonial and hegemonic actions. These nations will be the first to suffer due to their population’s increased reliance on natural resources such as water and ecosystems for their crop production and human health, while also lacking the effective strategies and resources needed to combat these climate changes efficiently.Despite these countries’ minor contribution to greenhouse gases emissions, they must face the costs of promoting and implementing various initiatives that are meant to help reduce the overall impact of climate change.
This can be proven by how despite the fact that Pakistan has only contributed about 0.8% of the total greenhouse gases emission, it still remains one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change (Qurat-ul-Ain, 2017). Climate change is expected to subject countries to negative impacts on food production and accessibility. Considering how Pakistan is a country known for mainly relying on its natural agricultural resources, it is concerning how the socio-economic structure present in the country withstands this issue as we are part of the developing countries where food insecurity already exists.
Climate change: more than just an environmental issue?
The effects of climate change can be seen through the increase of precipitation percentage over Pakistan, 25% to be exact (Qurat-ul-Ain, 2017), resulting in severe floods as well as droughts. By 2085, according to The Global Climate Change Impact Study Centre (GCISC), the average annual temperature in Pakistan is expected to rise by 4.3-4.9 Celsius (Akram, 2014). This increase in temperature is expected to be greater in the southern sections of the country than in the northern parts. This change in the rate of precipitation and temperature will cause negative effects on the agricultural production of the country with the likelihood of extreme weather events increasing. An increase in the occurrence of such extreme weather events will also result in causing damage to the infrastructure of Pakistan as it has been indicated that it is inadequate to face the issue and be able to maintain its strength even in earthquakes or floods.
Not only this but these natural disasters are anticipated to result in significant economic losses by destroying infrastructure and posing serious threats to food security. Pakistan has suffered enormous losses as a result of floods in recent years. These losses totaled more than $9.6 billion in 2010 and since then, five successive floods have cost more than US $25 billion in losses to agriculture, irrigation, public infrastructure, health, education, and other facilities (Sabahat Zahra, 2016).
Moreover, it is a well-known fact that the spread of viral and vector-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria are widespread in Asia and Africa. Keeping this in mind, due to the lack of education and health care facilities, extreme weather situations will result in not only an increased mortality rate amongst people but also an increase in water and respiratory diseases.
Add human behavior such as urbanization, increasing population, deforestation, and pollution to the already prevalent climate changes present in the country, and the result is as expected: reduced soil nutrients, soil erosion, depletion of natural water resources, desertification, and the decline of the gene pool variety which acted as a critical instrument in improving agricultural products.
Moving forward with climate change
In a study about the implications of climate change in Pakistan, the writers discuss how there are two key strategies when dealing with climate change: adaptation and mitigation. Sectors such as water resources, agriculture, livestock, biodiversity, disaster preparedness, fragile ecosystems, and socio-economic measures are believed to require policy interventions in terms of adaptation. Meanwhile, energy, transportation, agriculture, forestry, town planning, and waste management are considered as primary policy areas that need to be addressed under mitigation. The future of Pakistan is dependent on the guarantee that international adaptation and mitigation opportunities are available and used effectively.
At the end of the day collaboration between the government, research institutes, and international organizations is required if we want to find a way to move forward towards a better future despite the prevalent effects of climate change around us.