‘Perfect climate storm’: Pakistan reels from extreme heat | Climate Crisis News
Lahore, Pakistan – In the capital of Pakistan’s largest province Punjab, residents like Muhammad Junaid say the heat wave is happening “very suddenly and unexpectedly”.
Junaid told Al Jazeera that temperatures higher than 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher, combined with an hour-long power shortage in one of Lahore’s shanty towns, created a situation “unbearable” situations at home.
“We have eight people living in three rooms… The kids get frustrated easily in this heat along with the load [power outages]… Sometimes they just can’t help but cry,” he said.
Since April, South Asian countries have experienced an unpredictable heat wave that has seen some areas hit 50°C (104°F).
Former Climate Change Minister Malik Amin Aslam told Al Jazeera: “This is a strange weather phenomenon that has completely destroyed spring in Pakistan.
Speaking by phone from the capital, Islamabad, Aslam said the temperature was “6-7° above normal”. What we see happening is definitely due to climate change,” he added.
Scientists have long warned the climate crisis will lead to more extreme weather – including floods, droughts and heat waves.
An agency of the United Nations report Earlier this week, key indicators of climate change – including greenhouse gas concentrations and ocean heat – were higher than they were in 2021.
“The global energy system has broken down and brought us closer to climate catastrophe,” said the World Meteorological Organization.
The 8th hardest hit country
According to the published Global Climate Risk Index by the non-profit group GermanwatchPakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the effects of climate change over the past two decades.
Between 2000 and 2019, the Germany-based organization ranked Pakistan as the 8th worst affected country. During this period, the subcontinental country lost an average of 500 lives a year, equivalent to 500 lives. 10,000 people during the period, the group said.
According to Aslam, one of the most alarming effects of the “lashing” heat wave is the accelerated melting of glaciers in northern Pakistan.
Few days ago @ClimateChangePK warned that Pakistan’s vulnerability is high due to high temperatures. The Hassanabad Bridge on KKH collapsed due to GLOF from the Shisper Glacier melting causing erosion under the pillars. I told the FWO there would be a temporary bridge in 48 hours. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/Sjl9QIMI0G
– Senator SherryRehman (@sherryrehman) May 7, 2022
Earlier this month, the Hassanabad bridge in the northern Hunza Valley was destroyed by a flood that erupted from the glacial lake at Shisper Glacier – resulting in flash flooding – and stranded tourists and locals.
“Last year we [the previous government] Aslam said.
Pakistan has more 7,000 glaciers – one of the highest numbers in the world – many of them in the Himalayas.
University of Leeds The study was published in December Ice from the Himalayan glaciers is melting “at least 10 times higher than the average rate over the past several centuries” due to human-caused climate change.
Furthermore, the researchers report that the Himalayas, which also cover other countries in South Asia such as Nepal and India, have lost 40% of their ice in a few hundred years.
“What Pakistan is going through is a perfect climate storm,” Aslam said. “It is very alarming and there is nothing we can do about it. The country cannot simply go out and get rid of the greenhouse gases.”
Effects on plants
Experts warn that a sudden heat wave is also affecting the agricultural industry in this country.
Amanullah Khan, head of the environment and climate change unit at the United Nations Development Program in Pakistan, told Al Jazeera while the country’s crops are used to high temperatures, the problem is that the heatwave comes early. than expected.
“It’s not that this country’s agriculture hasn’t seen 41°C or 43°C yet – the point is that crops need a certain temperature at a given time to grow,” he said.
“If the heat comes earlier than usual, this will show in the country not producing good crops like wheat,” noted Khan, adding that Pakistan imports last year’s wheat, despite being a net exporter for many years. He believes that climate change is one of the main causes.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s mango harvest is also affected, with some local experts request reduction almost 60% in production.
Patron of the Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Traders, Exporters and Importers Association Waheed Ahmed told Al Jazeera that his group has reduced its export target of 25,000 tonnes this season, a decrease of 20%.
Speaking from Lahore, Ahmed added that a similar shortage could be expected later this year in “production of greens, sugarcane and other crops”.
Furthermore, Ahmed said continued water shortages are deepening food security in the country.
Earlier this month, Pakistan was ranked among the top 23 countries in the world by UN faced a drought emergency for the past two years.
The report published by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification states that drought – the result of low rainfall and more serious due to higher-than-normal temperatures – is the main cause of “crop yield fluctuations”, leading to low yields and leading to “significant financial losses”.
The tailor Junaid said that unlike wealthier households, he and his family have few financial resources to mitigate the impact of the heatwave, made worse by continued power outages. in the province and elsewhere.
“We don’t have money to buy air conditioners. We rely on cheap fans and coolers… but when there’s no power for a few hours, we have nothing to keep cool. We just have to live with it,” he lamented.
“We can’t afford UPS [uninterruptible power supply] or generator for backup when starting to reduce load. ”
One climate The study was published in February in the 2010s heatwave exposure of “the poorest quarter in the world… 40 times greater than the affluent quarter”, citing lack of access to heat-adapted facilities such as air conditioners and the resources to operate them.
“Adaptation measures, such as cooling centers… can reduce the impact of people’s heat exposure. However, a country’s ability to implement adaptation measures generally depends on its financial, governance, cultural and knowledge resources. Poverty affects every place,” the authors wrote for media and research institution The Conversation.
However, for low-income Pakistani workers who work outdoors, heatwaves are a secondary concern.
“We have no choice but to continue working the same long hours no matter how hot it gets… to support our family,” Muhammad Zubair, a tea seller, told Al. Jazeera, adds that his regular 10-12 hour workday remains unchanged.
Arshad, a daily laborer earning between 500-1,200 rupees per day ($2-6) told Al Jazeera that the government should ensure continuous employment for temporary workers like him.
The father of three says he hasn’t found a paid job for nine days straight from April to May, while sitting out eight or nine hours at a busy intersection in Lahore, hoping someone that will hire me.
“The heat is terrible but it will always be there… It can’t stop us from trying not to go hungry.”