Another heatwave

Published May 10, 2022

THE long hot summer is about to get even hotter, and future summers even worse. Just after a scorching March and April in many parts of the country, the Met office last week again forecast “severe heatwave conditions” across Pakistan. Some areas are expected to remain between 7°C to 9°C above normal while others between 6°C to 8°C. Among possible impacts of the very dry and hot weather, according to the Met office press release, is water stress on reservoirs, orchards, vegetable farms, etc and “farmers are advised to manage crop water accordingly”. Grim tidings have also emerged from just published research in which top climate scientists say that South Asia is yet to experience the hottest part of the year. That would be a catastrophic event “likely to kill thousands” in India and Pakistan, according to the lead scientist at a climate science research non-profit. And these extreme events will not be outliers. A landmark report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has predicted “intensity and frequency of hot extremes, such as warm days, warm nights, and heatwaves; and decreases in the intensity and frequency of cold extremes, such as cold days and cold nights” across Asia. However, things will be worse in South Asia where “more intense heatwaves of longer durations and occurring at a higher frequency are projected”.

In short, we have crossed the Rubicon. But while we must brace for the impact of decades of self-indulgent, short-sighted policies — particularly by the developed nations — despite scientists’ increasingly urgent warnings about greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, we may be able to mitigate the fallout to some extent. The government must place climate change at the centre of its political, development and governance agenda because the phenomenon will impact every aspect of our lives. For example, the switch to renewable energy sources must happen sooner rather than later and policies must be formulated to facilitate this change. With Pakistan slated as being among the countries worst affected by climate change, our youth is among the primary stakeholders. They must be taught in schools and institutes of higher education the gravity of what they face so that they may perhaps make wiser decisions than their older generations did. The government cannot afford to disregard the perils of climate change.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2022

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