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Pakistan battles heat waves and flooding

Pakistan battles heat waves and flooding

Heat Waves

Pakistan faces a dire situation as it grapples with the devastating effects of climate change. The country has experienced biblical flooding, scorching heat waves, and collapsing infrastructure, displacing millions and pushing the economy to the brink. Rafay Alam, an environmental lawyer and member of Pakistan’s Climate Change Council, expressed his frustration with the denialism prevalent in countries like the United States.

He stated, “There is significant denialism on climate change in places like the United States. And it angers me because I see people affected. I see animals affected.

And this is a lived experience for the global majority. It’s extremely infuriating to see people who’ve participated in this global warming deny it, deny any accountability, and try to continue making money.

Pakistan and other countries in the Global South are bearing the brunt of climate change while lacking adequate international support. The government sought flood relief through loans rather than grants or aid, doubling its external debt in just two years and exacerbating its struggle to rebuild an economy heavily impacted by climate disasters.

Pakistan faces climate-induced devastation

The persistent heat waves, reaching over 120°F, have drastically changed life for millions in Pakistan. Alam mentioned, “We’ve seen temperatures from the middle of May to the first of June reach more than 50 degrees Centigrade, over 120°F…

I notice animals and birds collapsed on the ground looking for water.” The heat wave has decimated crops, with agriculture constituting 20% of Pakistan’s GDP and employing nearly half of the workforce. Schools have been forced to shut down when temperatures climb too high, and the upcoming monsoon season brings concerns of extreme humid heat with deadly wet bulb temperatures. Pakistan must seek resilient solutions and better prepare for similar future events, focusing on adaptation strategies such as developing heat-resistant crops and adjusting water usage.

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The Pakistani middle and working classes, along with those at the poverty line, face the gravest danger, with few options to escape the relentless heat. Alam’s frustration reflects a universal truth: “The legal and international systems can’t cope with an existential crisis like climate change. Dividing the world into 200 countries and having them argue is counterproductive.”

Pakistan’s plight highlights the critical need for global solidarity and drastic action to mitigate the catastrophic effects of climate change.

As Alam observed, “Earth’s ecosystem has been balanced since the last ice age… That civilization is over.” The world must address this existential threat before it’s too late.

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