IMPACT OF GLOBAL WARMING IN PAKISTAN
A gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, CFCs, and other pollutants are termed as global warming. The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon by which the earth utilizes sunlight to warm it for sustaining life on it. The human actions like forests depletion, burning of fossil fuels and smoke discharge from industrial units have augmented the greenhouse gases concentration mostly carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide in the outer atmosphere of the earth. These trap too much heat inside the environment and consequently are increasing the earth’s temperature, leading to global warming. According to Environmental scientists if these emissions are not reduced the overall temperature of the world may increase between 1.1 to 6.5 centigrade at the end of 21st century. Developed countries are more responsible for the emission of greenhouse gases which eventually leads to global warming. The major contributors to the global warming are China, UK, US, Russia, Australia, Germany, Japan, Korea and Canada. But developing and underdeveloped countries which contribute less than 1% of these emissions are facing more effects. According to the Minister for Climate Change Mashahid Ullah Khan Pakistan is seventh in the list of ten countries which have been badly affected by the climate change. During the previous 10 years, Pakistan has been affected by floods nearly every year. Memories of 2010 flood still disturb those who were affected by that disastrous phenomenon which resulted in about 1,781 deaths, 2,966 people injured and demolished more than 1.89 million homes. Flood of 2011 also affected 1.2 million homes and 5.3 million people in Sindh, and submerging 1.7 million acres of land.
Air temperature increased due to greenhouse gases results in more moisture evaporation from land and lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water. This affects plant life and can reduce rainfall even more. Drought is the duration of irregularly dry weather which is due to the deficiency in rainfall in a specific period and over a specific area. Pakistan’s economy has been punched heavily by the continuous spell of droughts for the last many years, particularly in the provinces of Baluchistan and Sindh. The drought in these areas has reduced the river flows, resulting in drying up of the irrigation canals, leading to a severe agricultural deprivation. It has also been responsible for causing immense losses to poultry and other animals, causing a general deficiency of food and water for people.
The annual mean surface temperatures in Pakistan have been steadily increasing during the past century. A rise in mean temperature of 0.6-10c in the coastal areas along with a 0.5 to 0.7% increase in solar radiation over the southern half of country has been observed. 3-5% reduction in cloud cover in central Pakistan with the increase in periods of sunshine is also accountable for enhancing the temperature of the earth. The maximum temperature recorded ever in Pakistan is 53.5°C (128.3 °F) which was recorded in Mohenjo-Daro, Sindh on 26 May 2010. It was also the hottest measured temperature recorded on the continent of Asia and the fourth highest temperature recorded ever on earth.
Changing weather patterns will be the foundation for more intense and prolonged droughts and heat waves. Therefore, there is a growing need to take steps to uproot the causes of these events. In addition to the flood and drought prevention policies, steps to reduce the overall emission of greenhouse gases have to be the reduction of greenhouse gases undoubtedly lies in planting more and more trees. The area under forests in Pakistan is only 5% of the total land. While according to global standards it should be more than 20%. So, there is an imperative need to run an awareness campaign to educate the people about the impact of global warming and their contribution to the national effort including abstaining from cutting of trees.