THE ongoing climate change phenomenon and its adverse effects have alarmed the world to take steps to conserve nature and ensure its sustainability for the future generations. Pakistan is no exception. Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries affected by climate change, and has been ranked among the top 10 by the German Watch Institute.

Being a developing country lacking sufficient resources, it is critical to take measures against climate change before it gets too late. The northern areas of Pakistan play a crucial role in the country’s strategic importance, providing not just water, but also having direct linkage with agriculture and tourism. These resources if used efficiently represent the hope to pull the country out of its economic distress.

In recent years, due to the improvement in transport facilities and development of northern areas, there has been a serious rise in tourism both internal and external. However, the increase in human footfall in these areas has led to their unprecedented exploitation which not only risks the survival of millions of species, but also our own survival.

The loss of habitat and the inability to adapt to the new environment has threatened the risk of many key species in these regions, such as the snow leopard, which could lead to other complications as well.

The rising temperatures have also hastened the process of glacier melt which will increase the incidence of glacier lake outburst flow (GLOF) and flash floods. This threatens the disruption of livelihood in these areas which already struggle with everyday resources. As a country, Pakistan highly depends on its climate-sensitive land not only providing employment, but also a source of income through export of agricultural products. That being so, natural disasters may cause a great harm to the country.

Climate change and natural disasters, such as floods, pose potential risks of epidemic due to vector-borne diseases, like malaria or cholera, which would reduce the efficiency of the people. Financial and health barriers being created due to the loss of employment and disease may lead to an economic recession of its own in a country that already has a struggling economy.

It is crucial for us to realise our complex relationship with ecology. Historically, it is observed that we have been dependent on the environment for our survival. However, the modern age has witnessed the amount of control humans have over the environment, and that makes it our responsibility to care for it. This can only be achieved through a national effort in line with global initiatives.

The International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and such entities play a major role in ensuring nature’s successful conservation. The dependence of humans on the ecosystems has already been understood, and our actions in the future will bear testimony to whether or not we did justice to this responsibility when we could.

Mahrukh Saleem Rajput
Karachi

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2022

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