IN something of a heartening report, the International Panel on Climate Change said on Monday that the ozone layer in parts of the stratosphere has recovered at the rate of about 1pc to 3pc since the turn of the millennium. At the projected rates, according to this UN-commissioned study, the northern hemisphere and mid-latitude ozone layer may heal by the 2030s, followed by the southern hemisphere in the 2050s and the polar regions by the 2060s. This is the result of concerted action under the internationally agreed-upon action vis-à-vis the Montreal Protocol that came into being over 30 years ago, as an answer to the science that discovered that CFCs and other ozone-depleting substances are tearing up the vital ozone layer that protects the planet from ultraviolet radiation.
Encouraging while this may be, the same report also says that despite these gains, climate change is for real: more powerful hurricanes, worsening drought in many parts of the world, melting glaciers, and rising sea levels are just some of the anticipated outcomes. And, according to the IPCC report, these will be occurring at an ever faster pace until damaging activities around the planet are halted, and the effects eventually compensated for. This should come as sobering news for every country. Where Pakistan — which is not one of the major polluters that contribute to climate change but that is still one of the countries most vulnerable to it — it should be a clarion call for planning and taking action. On its way to becoming perhaps one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, Pakistan is amongst those that are likely to bear the brunt of climate change and its outcomes — particularly given its agrarian economy. And while there is a Ministry of Climate Change in place, action or planning appear to be precisely what are missing. At what point will real issues that affect millions be recognised as more pressing than political squabbling?
Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2018