“Degrading quality of air in Islamabad” I stared in horror at the headline of the newspaper in my grandmother’s hands.
‘Degrading? Heavens, no! It was impossible. This wasn’t happening, it just couldn’t,’ my mind refused to believe it.
But this was a reality. Islamabad, the green, the beautiful Islamabad, was finally succumbing to our carelessness and mistakes. I had always felt sure that Islamabad would survive the effects of climate change, for surely it had so much greenery, unlike many other areas of Pakistan. But would this greenery, 10 years from now, prove an effective barrier against climate change? A problem for which, we are responsible. You and I, each of us in our seemingly ordinary yet selfish way, have contributed to the problem of climate change — increasing them in quantity rather than resolving them.
When I look back, I am ashamed of the many things I have done, which seemed trivial at that moment, but had a much greater and horrifying consequence. It is not the absence of knowledge or ignorance, but the failure to act according to the knowledge gained. We all know about the shocking effects of climate change, but do we do anything against it? No, we don’t. For we think only of our comfort, but little do we know that if not put in check, climate change has the power to vanquish all comforts.
The time to warn about the effects of climate change is over, now we need to act to stop climate change
I, too, am guilty here. Although I did know the consequences of climate change and wanted to rid Pakistan and the world of it, I did not do much about it until it impacted me by threatening the city I love.
I know many of us (rather, all of us) have at least one thing in common; the love for Pakistan, our patriotism. Let’s not be selfish citizens of the country and be the cause of its ruin, but rather, let’s be the reason for its success. I know that we can, if only we make our minds to do so, for “Great nations are made not by leaders, but by the people themselves.” It is our duty, not only as citizens of Pakistan but also as residents and caretakers of the earth, to look after it.
The time for grieving is passed. The problem has existed for far too long now. We must take action. No more delays. Our world is dying and we are the cause. But it is not so long gone as to not be revived. If proper measures are taken, we can restore our world to its former, bounteous and beautiful glory.
I write this today, not to urge you to change or warn you about the effects of climate change, because the time for that is over. Now, I simply demand of you a promise (that I have made to myself already); that you will do all that is in your power to stop climate change or to prevent it from spreading.
Change begins with each one of us, on an individual basis. If all of us keep this promise, then collectively, we will be able to achieve what many could not for decades. We will be able to rescue the world from the throes of decay. We will be able to right our wrongs and live, once more, in peace.
Published in Dawn, Young World, November 10th, 2018