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The climate challenge
 By   Haroon Janjua


The climate challenge:-Pakissan.comThe climate change phenomenon, which the world has been witnessing lately, is exhibiting unforeseen and asymmetrical patterns.

On the one hand, plains in Punjab are seriously impacted under a severe patch of flooding, while the muzzle of the Thar Desert is bringing about a drought-like situation, given this year’s impoverished monsoon period.

As is evident from a season of longer spells of heavy rains, withering floods and droughts in parallel, Pakistan is experiencing the worst effects of climate change. These wet and dry conditions present serious threats to agriculture, industry, water resources – in fact, the country’s overall economic framework.

As the climate has become warmer, these extremes in weather patterns have become more frequent and dangerous due to increase in extreme heat, scarce precipitation and drought.

Heat waves become longer and hotter with continuous fluctuation in their intensity.

Flooding due to heavy torrential rains has also become continual and recurrent. In a wide swing between such extreme conditions, drought and famine have also become highly intensive.

Weather is developing in a different manner, shifting what used to be moderate into what is now clearly visible as extreme variations. These intense events that would otherwise be rare have now accelerated to a frequent pace.

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For example, until some decades ago, the annual temperature ranges had normal variances. However in the past few years, with 2010 being the watershed year, the Annual Temperature Range has been growing, mostly owing to an increase in the maximum temperature that is recorded in the summer months.

In 2010, across Sindh and in parts of Blochistan, the highest temperature was 50 to 52 degrees continuously for 10 days.

It is worth mentioning that parts of Punjab during this year and in this period also saw a heat wave with temperatures lasting for days around 48 to 50 degrees.

This heat wave was followed by a massive flood caused by unexpected torrential rains, that brought with them loss of almost hundreds of lives, thousands of livestock, submerging of tens of millions of fertile agricultural land, inundation of the most critical of power plants, besides causing a major law and order problem, with the army diverting its attention to rescue and relief.

As happened in 2010, highly frequent and increasingly severe changing weather patterns weaken the critical components of the economy and impact livelihood of the population.

Climate change is therefore impacting a huge portion of population across the planet earth in one way or the other.

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The Asian Development Bank in its recent report, ‘Assessing the Costs of Climate Change and Adaptation in South Asia’ found that “Climate change will affect South Asia more than most other regions.

South Asia’s weather is likely to become hotter than the global average, while monsoon rains and heavy storms will increase in most parts of the region.

As well, the mountainous countries face increased flooding and landslides, while the coastal countries of the region are likely to be partly inundated by sea-level rise”.

The recent floods in Pakistan have inflicted heavy losses of human lives, property and infrastructure and water is continuously flowing towards the shallow regions of southern Punjab and Sindh.

Till now the alluvions in Chenab and Jhelum, following the heavy torrential rains, had displaced, stranded and affected around 2.1 million people, washing away or gravely damaging over 32,000 houses in several districts of central and southern Punjab.

Climate change is not limited to devastating floods only; it is equally hurting the lives of those living in deserts and in other arid regions. For Thar's desert inhabitants, their domesticated animals are a vital piece of their existence and can make the difference between life and death to them.

Tharis relocate to different parts of Sindh to discover occasional work; but reports suggest that a few families are permanently leaving their local zones.

Dry spell like conditions had manifested recently, with various children reportedly dying from lack of healthy sustenance or inadequate medical facilities.

In August Marubhat committed suicide in the grave misery of being unable to give food to her children. In the recent past, 24 suicide cases were registered in 2011 and 35 in 2012.

These suicides are to a great extent credited to an increase in instances of aggressive behavior at home and neediness in the region.

The current year’s drought is expected to be the most terrible. A dry spell is an immediate consequence of late rainstorm or in Thar’s case an absence of it.

The Pakistani economy is highly dependent on agriculture and if certain measures are not taken the country may confront genuine threats.

To save agriculture, which is the nation's mainstay, farmers are presently being prompted by experts to reconsider their harvest timetable and begin sowing cotton two months prior so that the product is harvested before the monsoon hits.

Rice cultivators; again, ought to strive for deferred planting.

There is a need to bring in new mixed varieties of wheat, rice and sugarcane which can grow faster and survive storms and delayed drought.

There is an agreement that new dams can control and deal with the future surge of the currents of the rivers. Or else the nation will undoubtedly see a greater amount of such deluges and additional problems.

For the long haul strategies need to combined with the goal that individuals and domesticated animals are protected from the crushing impacts of nature calamities.

September, 2014

Source:  The News

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