Published in The Express Tribune on August 27, 2022
As expected, the reverberations of climate change are now directly impacting water and agriculture in Pakistan. The country’s climate change division has asserted that 152 extreme climactic events have occurred in the last two decades as a significant shift in the intensity and frequency of weather patterns were witnessed. As a result, they fear that absolute water scarcity will hit the country by 2025, followed by acute food insecurity and wide-scale starvation due to low agricultural productivity.
The persistence of a high intensity heatwave followed by record-breaking, devastating monsoon rains will cripple the nation’s food baskets, leaving millions vulnerable and helpless. Another grave threat, according to the climate change division, is the constantly rising sea levels along the coast which has caused a loss of 1.8 million acres of arable land. These are no longer climate theories for educational purposes; Pakistan is witnessing the cost first-hand. The current situation brought about by the monsoon rains, where agricultural lands were ravaged and communities washed away by flash floods, should have rung the alarm bells but officials and policymakers seem busy fighting an inconsolable political war. Other holier-than-thou institutions too have wrapped themselves around the same with little care for what is necessary in the wake of such massive devastation. They continue to adopt the same reactionary approach, and we continue to express the futility of it.
Despite prudent measures and safety mechanisms that need to be introduced to soften the blow, the fight is not Pakistan’s alone. Climate change is a global phenomenon, a collective failure, and must be treated or solved as such. Apart from the need to bring international agricultural and conservation experts on board to tackle these issues, Pakistan must ferociously advocate for fighting climate change at international level. Officials must put politics aside and do what is necessary by realising that the people and the country are at grave risk.