Killer heatwave

Published April 30, 2022

WITH scalding temperatures affecting many parts of the country, the climate change ministry has done well to issue a heatwave alert to all the provinces. Global bodies had warned of a long and harsh heatwave in the subcontinent, with average temperatures registering an increase of 6°C to 8°C. Rainfall figures too have dropped, with 62pc less rain so far this year. This has caused rivers and dams to practically run dry. Indeed, the early onset of summer has hit South Asia particularly hard this year, with millions in the throes of a heatwave in India as well. The problem for Pakistanis has been aggravated by prolonged power outages, especially in large parts of Punjab, while the early onset of summer has badly affected the wheat crop. With Nawabshah recording the hottest global temperature at 50°C in April, which is usually the tail-end of the spring season, it is clear that managing climate change’s impact must become a priority. In its alert to the provincial authorities, the federal climate change ministry attributed the ‘freak’ heatwave to climate change and global warming, stating that such high temperatures pose a threat to human health and agricultural output. While Pakistan’s contribution to the global phenomenon has been minimal, it has been one of the countries most affected by its adverse effects.

It is encouraging to see the climate change ministry coordinating with the provincial authorities on measures to cope with the hellish heatwave, that is bound to become a recurrent feature in the years ahead. However, the ministry should do more to provide technical assistance to provincial and local governments to enable them to adapt to new climate realities by taking measures such as creating more green spaces in cities and towns to provide shade and breathing room to citizens. Running an advertisement campaign in newspapers is not enough; the authorities should find creative ways to keep the citizens informed about the steps they can take to protect themselves and their homes from the effects of the heat.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2022

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