Climate Change in Pakistan: Why Our Glacier Melting?

Understanding the Effects of Climate Change in Pakistan- Pakistan Tour n Travel

Challenges of Climate Change in Pakistan: Understanding the Impact and Solutions

Climate change is the most important issue of our time; we are the first to see the early warning signs and the last to have a chance to prevent it from happening. Living in a bubble of ignorance can only get us so far; our world is already filled with melting glaciers, flooding, animal extinctions, extreme weather events, etc.

The importance of spreading awareness about climate change using every means possible, including seemingly trivial forms like writing a school essay, cannot be overstated.

Climate change puts many countries at risk, with developing countries facing much higher risks. This serious problem has severely impacted the region, so South Asia has become more prone to disasters. Overall, climate change is accelerating, with severe consequences for Pakistan.

Does Pakistan will face a shortage of water in the coming years?

Yes, there is a high risk that Pakistan will face a severe water shortage in the coming years. Here’s a breakdown of the situation:

Factors Contributing to Water Shortage:

  • Climate Change: Rising temperatures from climate change are leading to:
    • Increased evaporation: More water evaporates from reservoirs and soil, reducing availability.
    • Erratic rainfall patterns: Some areas may experience less rain than usual, while others experience floods, leading to uneven distribution of water resources.
    • Melting glaciers: While melting glaciers can initially contribute to water flow, the long-term trend is a decrease in glacial meltwater, impacting rivers that millions depend on.
  • Rapid Population Growth: Pakistan’s population is growing rapidly, putting pressure on water resources.
  • Water Management Issues: Inefficient irrigation practices, water loss due to leaky infrastructure, and lack of proper water conservation measures contribute to water scarcity.

Consequences of Water Shortage:

  • Food Security: Water scarcity will impact agricultural productivity, potentially leading to food shortages and malnutrition.
  • Health Concerns: Lack of clean drinking water can lead to waterborne diseases and other health problems.
  • Social Unrest: Competition for scarce water resources can lead to conflicts between communities and regions.

Potential Solutions:

  • Investing in Climate-Smart Agriculture: Practices like drip irrigation and drought-resistant crops can help conserve water in the agricultural sector.
  • Water Conservation Measures: Public awareness campaigns and infrastructure improvements can reduce water waste in homes and businesses.
  • Efficient Water Management: Modernizing irrigation systems, repairing leaky infrastructure, and promoting water reuse are crucial steps.
  • International Cooperation: Pakistan needs international support regarding technology transfer and financial assistance to adapt to climate change and manage water resources efficiently.

Overall, addressing water scarcity requires a multi-pronged approach. By taking proactive measures and adopting sustainable practices, Pakistan can mitigate the impact of climate change and ensure a secure water future for its citizens.

Why is Pakistan so affected by global climate change? 

Pakistan is geographically located in a region where the impacts of climate change are quite strong. This climate catastrophe has huge economic, social, and environmental consequences. Statistics from the 2010 floods show that 20 million people suffered a devastating impact, losing their homes, being injured, or becoming lost. Likewise, another flood hit Pakistan in 2012, causing massive damage.

Climate change risks Pakistan’s income, housing, food, and security. Given this difficult reality, the Pakistani government must take urgent steps to combat its harmful effects. The authorities undoubtedly take this issue seriously, considering it sensitive and dangerous.

According to a study, Pakistan faces “average temperatures well above the global average and could rise by 1.3 to 4.9 degrees Celsius by the 2090s compared to the 1986-2005 baseline.” The study also noted that Pakistan “has some of the highest temperatures.” The 2020 Inform Risk Index ranks it 18th out of 191 countries.

Understanding the Effects of Climate Change in Pakistan - Pakistan Tour and Travel

Continues Flood Condition in Pakistan

Under the most optimistic emissions scenario, global average temperatures will rise by about 3.7 degrees Celsius from 2080 to 2099. Furthermore, changes in Pakistan’s hydrological regime and water supply are largely unknown, although droughts are expected to become more common. Extreme weather events are expected to become more common and severe, increasing disaster risks, especially for people with low incomes and minorities.

Weather Changes in Pakistan Over Past Years

With average monthly maximum temperatures around 27°C and an average June maximum temperature of 36°C, Pakistan regularly experiences some of the highest temperature extremes in the world. In Pakistan, the average annual probability of a heat wave occurring in any region is about 3%. It is estimated that more than 65,000 people were hospitalized due to heat stroke during the 2015 heat wave in Pakistan, putting a large proportion of the population at risk.

Understanding the Effects of Climate Change in Pakistan - Pakistan Tour and Travel

Extreme weather conditions in Pakistan

Communities bring unique insights, skills, and a wealth of information to the issue of building resilience and addressing climate change. They should not be seen as recipients but as participants in developing resilience. Community leaders can set goals, influence ownership, and create and manage investment plans that respond to community needs based on research and experience.

Many areas of Pakistan experience annual temperatures of 38 degrees Celsius or more, which can seriously affect human health when weather patterns combine to produce prolonged heat waves. Between 1997 and 2015, Pakistan experienced 126 heat waves, an average of 7 per year, and the trend is on the rise.

Why is there less rain in Pakistan this year?

While it’s still early in 2024 to say there will be fewer rains overall in Pakistan this year, climate trends and weather patterns might contribute to a perception of less rain. Here’s a breakdown of the possibilities:

  • Uneven Distribution of Rainfall: Climate change has led to more erratic weather patterns globally. In Pakistan, this could mean some areas receive less rain than usual while others experience heavy downpours.
  • Shifts in Monsoon Patterns: The monsoon season is crucial for Pakistan’s water supply. However, due to climate change, the timing and intensity of monsoon rains are becoming more unpredictable, leading to periods with less rain than usual.
  • Glacial Melt Impact: While melting glaciers can contribute to flooding in some areas, the overall water flow from melting glaciers is projected to decrease in the long run. However, this could impact water availability in certain regions.

What are the main challenges that Pakistan is facing due to global climate change?

Pakistan is a low- to middle-income country with a predominantly agricultural economy; however, it is gradually industrializing, and more than one-third of the population currently lives in cities. The country relies heavily on climate-sensitive land, water, and forest resources for food and nutrition security. Agriculture remains an important occupation for about 42% of the population. Irrigation from the glacial Indus River and its tributaries supports about 90% of agricultural land. 

Understanding the Effects of Climate Change in Pakistan - Pakistan Tour and Travel

Glaciers melting 300 gigatons per year.

Glacier melt is accelerating due to climate change, increasing the potential for downstream glacial lake outflow (GLOF) flooding and debris flows. Accelerating glacial melt, rising temperatures, seasonal changes, and erratic rainfall patterns are affecting the flow of the Indus River, which will have an increasing impact on agriculture, food production, and livelihoods. With 39% of the population currently living in poverty, the loss of livelihoods highlighted in this study will have a significant impact on people’s health and their ability to access healthcare.

Heat stress, hunger, the introduction of vector-borne diseases such as dengue fever, and the increasing burden of aquatic infections will impact people’s ability to work and earn a living.

Migrants, internally displaced persons, and religious and ethnic minorities will be particularly vulnerable as they are often confined to vulnerable areas and face treatment challenges, including economic hardship caused by informal work. Child marriage, premature birth, and domestic violence may become more common due to climate change. As food production decreases, women and children will be more vulnerable to malnutrition and malnutrition.

Understanding the Effects of Climate Change in Pakistan - Pakistan Tour and Travel

Smog caused by pollution is affecting climate miserably

Smog is another major problem in Pakistan’s industrial eastern Punjab region, with the provincial capital, Lahore, shrouded in smog during the winter. Officials say they are working to resolve the problem, which affects thousands of brick kilns.

Millions of poor people will face significant problems from climate change, including hazardous events, health consequences, social protection, economic stability, mobility, water security, cultural heritage, and other risks.

Climate Change Becoming A Social Crisis 

Climate change is closely linked to global inequality patterns. Climate change harms the most vulnerable, even though they are least affected by disasters. Millions of vulnerable people face disproportionate problems as the impacts of climate change worsen in terms of extreme events, health impacts, food security, economic security, water security, and cultural identity.

Pakistan Summer Vacations in Northern areas - Pakistan Tour and travel

 

Households headed by women, children, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, landless tenants, migrant workers, displaced persons, sexual minorities, older persons, and other socially excluded groups are all highly vulnerable to disasters. Their vulnerability stems from multiple factors, including geographical location, financial, socioeconomic, cultural, and gender status, access to health care, decision-making, and justice.

Understanding the Effects of Climate Change in Pakistan - Pakistan Tour and Travel

tons of garbage on beaches

The poor and oppressed are demanding more aggressive climate action. Climate change is not just an environmental catastrophe but also a social crisis that requires us to confront inequalities on many levels: between rich and poor countries, between men and women, and between generations. To achieve more effective development outcomes, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasizes the need for climate solutions that adhere to the principles of climate justice (i.e., recognition, procedural, and distributive justice).

Climate Change and its Impacts in Pakistan

Unfortunately, Pakistan, a country known for its diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage, is at the forefront of climate change’s devastating effects. Here’s a breakdown of the situation:

Pakistan’s Vulnerability:

  • Geography: Pakistan’s geography plays a significant role. The country borders the Himalayas, housing numerous glaciers that feed the Indus River, a vital water source for millions. Additionally, a large portion of Pakistan is arid or semi-arid.
  • Limited Infrastructure: Pakistan needs more robust infrastructure to cope with extreme weather events like floods and droughts.

Impacts of Climate Change:

  • Extreme Weather Events: The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like floods, droughts, and heatwaves are increasing.
    • Floods: In 2022, devastating floods caused by heavy monsoon rains submerged a third of the country, displacing millions and causing widespread destruction. However, this is just one example.
    • Droughts: Parts of Pakistan experience increasingly severe droughts, impacting agriculture and livelihoods.
    • Heatwaves: Rising temperatures lead to more frequent and intense heatwaves, straining water resources and posing health risks.
  • Glacial Retreat: Melting glaciers in the Himalayas threaten the water supply of the Indus River, impacting irrigation and drinking water for millions downstream.
  • Sea Level Rise: Rising sea levels threaten coastal areas, leading to land erosion and saltwater intrusion in agricultural lands.
Understanding the Effects of Climate Change in Pakistan - Pakistan Tour and Travel

Plastic harming marine life

Consequences of Climate Change:

  • Food Security: Erratic weather patterns disrupt agricultural productivity, impacting food security for millions who rely on agriculture for their livelihood.
  • Displacement and Migration: Extreme weather events displace communities and lead to internal migration as people search for safer grounds.
  • Health Impacts: Heatwaves and waterborne diseases spread more readily due to climate change, impacting public health.
  • Economic Losses: The costs of responding to climate disasters and rebuilding infrastructure are significant, straining the economy.

Looking Forward:

  • Adaptation: Pakistan must adapt to the changing climate by investing in flood and drought-resistant infrastructure and developing climate-smart agricultural practices.
  • Mitigation: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale is crucial to slow down climate change and minimize its impact on Pakistan.
  • International Cooperation: Pakistan needs international support regarding technology transfer and financial assistance to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects.

Initiative To Be Taken in the Future 

Climate change mitigation initiatives often have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable. Without well-designed supporting policies, climate change adaptation measures may place a greater financial burden on poor households; for example, policies to expand public transport or carbon pricing may lead to higher public transport prices, placing a greater financial burden on poor households. 

Likewise, restricting forest activities to certain times of the year may have consequences for indigenous peoples who rely on forests for their livelihoods year-round. In addition to addressing the distributional impacts of a decarbonized economy, social inclusion, cultural and political economy issues also need to be understood and addressed, such as identifying the type of transformation required (economic, social, etc.) and identifying opportunities to address them. Social inequalities in these processes.

Understanding the Effects of Climate Change in Pakistan - Pakistan Tour and Travel

Solar energy instead of fossil fuels

In addition, communities bring unique insights, skills, and a wealth of information to build resilience and address climate change issues. They should not be seen as recipients but as participants in developing resilience. Community leaders can set goals, influence ownership, and create and manage investment plans that respond to community needs based on research and experience.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report highlights the importance of multiple types of knowledge, such as scientific, local, and indigenous knowledge, to build resilience to climate change. Through innovations in climate finance architecture, marginalized communities and people can access high-level political, technical, and financial support to achieve successful and locally relevant development outcomes.

K2 basecamp trek

Climate Change’s Icy Grip: The Plight of Pakistan’s Northern Areas

Pakistan’s breathtaking northern areas, a haven of majestic mountains, pristine glaciers, and vibrant cultures, face a harsh reality – climate change. Rising temperatures are wreaking havoc on this region, threatening its natural beauty and the livelihoods of its people.

Melting Majesty: The Disappearing Glaciers

The crown jewels of the north – the glaciers – are melting at an alarming rate. These frozen giants, once a source of life-giving water for millions downstream, are shrinking rapidly. The consequences are dire:

  • Reduced Water Flow: The Indus River, fed by these glaciers, is the lifeline of Pakistan’s agriculture. With less meltwater, water availability for irrigation and drinking water decreases.
  • Increased Flooding: Melting glaciers can lead to sudden bursts of glacial lakes, causing catastrophic floods in downstream areas.
  • Loss of Habitat and Biodiversity: The unique ecosystems surrounding glaciers are delicately balanced. As they disappear, so do the plants and animals that depend on them.

From Lush Valleys to Parched Lands: The Impact of Less Rain

The rain patterns in the north are changing. Here’s how:

  • Erratic Rainfall: Once predictable, monsoon rains become less frequent and intense. This leads to flash floods and landslides, which cause devastation and loss of life.
  • Prolonged Droughts: Periods of little to no rain are becoming more common, leading to severe droughts. These droughts dry up farmland, reduce crop yields, and impact food security.
  • Shifting Landscapes: Less rain and changing weather patterns contribute to soil erosion and desertification, transforming once fertile valleys into arid landscapes.

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The Ripple Effect: A Region in Transition

The impacts of climate change extend far beyond the environment. The melting glaciers and erratic rainfall are having a profound impact on the lives of people in the north:

  • Loss of Livelihoods: Many in the region rely on agriculture and tourism. Droughts and changing landscapes threaten these livelihoods, pushing people towards migration for a better future.
  • Health Concerns: Water scarcity and extreme weather events exacerbate health problems, especially for vulnerable populations like children and the elderly.
  • Food Insecurity: Decreased agricultural productivity due to droughts and water scarcity leads to food shortages and malnutrition.
Understanding the Effects of Climate Change in Pakistan - Pakistan Tour and Travel

Sustainable Solutions

A Call to Action: Preserving the Future of the North

The situation in Pakistan’s northern areas is urgent. However, there’s still hope:

  • Sustainable Practices: Promoting sustainable farming methods, water conservation techniques, and reforestation can help mitigate the effects of climate change.
  • Disaster Preparedness: Investing in early warning systems and infrastructure that can withstand extreme weather events can save lives and reduce damage.
  • Climate-Smart Infrastructure: Developing and implementing projects that integrate climate change considerations, like drought-resistant crops and flood-resilient buildings, is crucial.

Conclusion:

Climate change presents a major challenge for Pakistan. However, Pakistan can build resilience and adapt to this evolving threat by taking proactive measures and forging international collaborations. By acting now and working together, we can help preserve the beauty and livelihood of Pakistan’s northern areas for future generations. Let’s ensure these majestic mountains and vibrant cultures continue to thrive, not just as a memory of a bygone era but as a testament to our collective effort in combating climate change.

 

Saba Ghani
Saba Ghani

Since 2017, Saba Ghani has been serving as the talented and dedicated chief content writer for Pakistan Tour and Travel & EMHI Solutions. With her exceptional writing skills and in-depth knowledge of the travel industry, she has been instrumental in crafting engaging and informative content that captivates the audience. You can catch her at [email protected] or Twitter

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