TODAY marks Earth Day. As Pakistan is hit once again by heavy rains and winds that have destroyed the wheat crop in parts of Punjab, while Sindh protests water shortages that have restricted farming, there is a need for greater awareness of the impact of the changing weather patterns. Whether we acknowledge it or not, climate change is having an effect on every aspect of our lives. Matters will get worse for future generations, unless we radically rethink our lifestyles. The destruction of planet earth is just one of the consequences of a capitalistic world that goes about its business unchallenged. Not only have we lost many lives due to extreme weather, the impact on largely agrarian economies has been catastrophic. Pakistan is indeed one of the countries that is most vulnerable to climate change, and has witnessed everything from flooding to heatwaves and droughts in recent times. And there are plenty of instances of climate-based migration, most recently in Badin. Along with destruction and the displacement faced by humans, the mass extinction of animals and plant life is ongoing through deforestation and the obliteration of their habitat, pollution and unlawful and excessive hunting.
The theme for Earth Day 2019 is to ‘Protect Our Species,’ which was created in response to the destruction of natural life due to human activity. Pakistan boasts an enviable biodiversity, but much of it is threatened due to the short-sightedness of our decision-makers. The current prime minister calls himself an environmentalist, but labels are meaningless until they are translated into action. Most people believe there is little that individuals can do at a private level to combat climate change, as the responsibility falls on large corporations and politicians. But then, we have the example of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg in Sweden. During a phone-meeting with a meteorologist in June 2018, before she began her school strike, Greta told him: “You are not radical enough. I have to do something myself.” That should be hint enough.
Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2019