Pakistan experiences recurring heatwaves and droughts, riverine and flash floods, landslides, and sea storms or cyclones. Climate change is expected to only increase the frequency and intensity of these events as well as exacerbate people’s vulnerabilities. Yet successive governments have refused to undertake actions that would help alleviate the upcoming challenges.
According to editor of Scientific Investigation and Global Network of Scientists, Tabinda Ashraf Shahid, “Human-induced climate changes include deforestation, burning of natural fuel resources, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from energy production, industrialisation, transportation, etc. These contribute to extreme weather conditions such as heatwaves and rising sea levels as snowmelt increases, shifting rain patterns, floods and storms, drought, poor air quality, and so on. All of these are disrupting agriculture and economic growth, while harming public health as malnutrition and epidemics become more widespread.”
As Ashraf notes, “Researchers have found that when crops are exposed to carbon dioxide at the level predicted for 2050, a plant can lose as much as 10pc of its zinc, 5pc iron and 8pc protein content. Studies show that protein decreased in rice, wheat, barley and potatoes by 7.6pc, 7.8pc, 14.1pc and 6.4pc, respectively, when exposed to greater carbon dioxide concentrations. It is reported that 18 countries, including Pakistan, could lose over 5pc of protein from rice and wheat by 2050. All these essential nutrients are already in insufficient quantities in women and children in low- and low-middle-income countries, including Pakistan, contributing to the overall burden of disease.
Further, “electricity is responsible for a quarter of all emissions globally. This can be easily resolved by using less electricity for heating or cooling purposes through the use of adequate insulation, LED bulbs and energy-efficient building materials. However, electricity can be generated without emissions if renewable energy resources such as solar, waste and biofuel, wind and ocean power are put to use. Planting tea, bamboo and other plants also helps carbon reduction by trapping carbon in the plants and soil. Farming methods such as crop rotations keep the soil healthy and are an effective way to sap carbon from the atmosphere.
Finally, Ashraf points out, “A comprehensive national climate action plan should be followed to reduce all emission-related operations as well as to educate the citizenry on energy-efficient practices in their daily life. Additionally, there is a dire need to strengthen public health services to plan for future health challenges, while taking measures to adapt to the effects of climate change on planetary health.”