Global warming is a problem that has plagued the human race for several decades. Yet, no matter how often the problem is publicized, its causes analyzed, and its solutions theorized, it has yet to be resolved.
Global warming has emerged as one of the major threats to our planet in this century: it is constantly referred to by scientists as the ‘would-be’ cause of human extinction. Researchers have proven that the human race itself is writing its own death. The changes to our planet’s atmospheric conditions have not yet been classified as drastic, yet they are slowly guiding us to the edge of extinction as our final destination.
In its simplest terms, global warming has been described as an increase in the greenhouse effect. But, what is this exactly? The greenhouse effect is a natural process by which the earth holds some of the energy of sunrays and utilizes it to warm itself enough to sustain life on it. However, human activities of deforestation, use of chlorofluorocarbons, wildfires, industrialization and combustion of methane have led to an increase of greenhouse gases which are responsible for trapping excessive heat inside the environment and thus increasing the overall temperature of the earth, leading to global warming. In the tropical and subtropical regions of the globe, namely the subcontinent and its surroundings, winters have become shorter and milder and there has been a significant stretch in the span of summers. Although Pakistan itself contributes very little to the overall emissions, we are still one of the most severely hit countries in the world due to the process of global warming.
An agriculturally dependent country such as Pakistan,whose entire economic prosperity is based upon the intricately developed irrigation system, has suffered immensely in the form of recurrent flooding and droughts. The country’s economy has been crippled heavily by devastating and repetitive floods. The annual mean surface temperature in Pakistan has risen steadily. A rise in the mean temperature of 0.6-10 degrees centigrade in the coastal areas along with a 0.5-7% increase in solar radiation over the southern half of the country has been observed. In central Pakistan a 3-5% decrease in cloud cover with increasing hours of sunshine has also been responsible for increasing the temperatures.
Furthermore, Pakistan’s economy has been punched heavily by continuous spells of droughts for many years, especially in the provinces of Balochistan and Sindh. These droughts have resulted in drying up of the irrigation canals and reducing the river flows, resulting in severe agricultural deprivation. It has also been responsible for causing a general deficiency of food and water for people. Increased temperatures because of elevated greenhouse gases, as well as a mismanagement of the water reservoirs need to be blamed for the condition. Moreover, different parts of the country being affected by flash floods due to glacial melts, increased heatwaves, water scarcity, rising sea levels, food shortages and displacements have led to an estimated financial loss of $2 billion. Therefore, there is a growing consensus that steps will have to be taken to uproot the cause of these events.
Several efforts have already been made in trying to work out this problem. Afforestation projects, such as the Billion Tree Tsunami campaign, are a good start but they need to be scaled up in the long term. The lumber industry should indulge in a more sustainable method of timber trade, thus balancing our need for forest-based products and economic benefits with long-term health of the forest. Instead of harvesting a whole area leaving the land desolate and barren, they can prune the trees and cut down older trees to encourage diversity and promote healthier growth. Devising and implementing a waste management strategy for mountainous areas will also be effective in reducing black carbon deposition on glaciers, accelerating their melting. The most common solution of switching to renewable energy source. We have massive potential for solar energy in Thar and for hydropower in the North — not to mention our capacity to generate extensive wind energy through the Gharo-Jhimpir wind corridor in Sindh and its potential to generate electricity on the Makran coast. We will need to make climate change a priority and execute measures, which are effective and not half-hearted implementations.
We have through our carelessness exploited this well-balanced system of nature and now find ourselves in the necessity of having to find a long-lasting solution to the problems we ourselves have created. Moving away from the constantly iterated clichés of impending doom we can choose to be more optimistic and focus on a more positive and action oriented approach.