Saturday, January 16, 2010

Heat is killing humanity, no matter it is winter or summer

Recently a mega landslide occurred in the village of Atabad in Hunza valley on 4th January, 2010, killing 15 innocent people while number are still missing. Debris has covered a 4 km stretch of the Karakoram Highway, to a maximum height of 263 feet while the road is still closed. 1763 people have been displaced. According to Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS), the Hunza River is still blocked and its level had risen to 350 feet and still rising. The situation raises fears that low-lying areas across the river would be inundated. The snap shots of location by Pamir Times clearly show the situation. The population of these red-zone areas is estimated to be around 20,000 people. Towns up the valley from the blockage, especially Gojal, are facing real hardship due shortages of food and medicine caused by the road blockage.

This is of course mid-winter in a high mountain location. It may take a month to reopen the road. Population living downstream and the on-going construction of dam are on risk. Water level in the barrier lake is rising at 0.4 feet (about 12 cm) per hour. The level is reportedly 44 feet (13.4 meters) from the crest of the dam. The lake is about to inundate the settlement of Ayinabad. APP reports that a channel will be constructed to drain the lake but that in the meantime downstream settlements are being evacuated. Meanwhile, clearance of the Karakoram Highway continues but is expected to take a month.

The impacts of Climate Change are quite visible in Pakistan. We really need an effective policy implementation on climate change with strong action by the government to protect human lives, our environment and bio-diversity. Unfortunately, majority of the people are unaware about causes of climate change and their un-natural practices which make them more vulnerable to natural disasters caused by climate variability.

Every year, with extensive use of fossil fuel, rapid industrialization, huge deforestation, millions of tones of carbon dioxide is concentrating in atmosphere and resulting in global warming. This is the global warming which has rapidly increased melting of glaciers in northern parts of Pakistan, 10 to 15% precipitation decrease in the southern coastal areas and increased precipitation in north during the last 40 years. The geography of Pakistan and rapid increase in population (6th in world ranking) make it highly vulnerable to natural disasters with huge burden on its available resources. Major shift in monsoon season in future, changed precipitation and time periods for crops sowing and harvesting during winter and summer will be impacting more the agriculture sector of Pakistan and ultimately food security in near future. Pakistan has only 0.43% share in global carbon emission but it is the 12th most vulnerable country affected by climate variability.

Many villages in the coastal areas of Pakistan have been disappeared, while villagers have already started leaving their areas due to the fear of increasing tides of sea and land erosion. Mangroves forests in this area are rapidly declining and risks of flooding and land erosion is continuously threatening lives of people living in coastal areas. Baluchistan province is already experiencing the effects of droughts, while after two major droughts in near past, water table has decreased a lot in this region.

Northern areas of Pakistan are particularly famous for its natural beauty, high peak forests with lush green sceneries. Winter is severe in these areas with heavy snowfall every year. However, people of this area are now observing decreasing snowfall and winter intensity. For the first time in NWFP province, government announced winter vacations for only one month in schools which used to be two and half months every winter. These areas are rain fed, however, wheat crop has been badly affected due to absence of rain and snowfall till the start of winter season. Decreasing level of water this year is going to affect crops in Punjab and southern parts of the country. Government has already shown concerns of 50% decrease in yield. People are already facing shortage of flour and sugar in markets which seems to be more intense this and coming year. Shortage of water, together with poor progress in water management, renewable energies/hydro power production has left people to face severe load shedding in the history of country. Deficit has gone up to 35, 00 MV which results in hours longs load shedding. There is about 46,000 MV potential of power production through hydro power, while only 6,000 MW hydro power production has been made possible. The energy crisis is going to put a huge pressure on the economic development of the country.

No comments:

Post a Comment