KARACHI: A seminar on ‘Extreme heat and urban vulnerability: intersections of governance, health and urban planning in Karachi’ organised by Karachi Urban Lab (KUL) at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) saw experts deliberate about how the mega city has warmed up over the past decades.
Speaking at the seminar, Dr Nausheen H. Anwar, Professor, City and Regional Planning, Department of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts, and Director of KUL, IBA, said that by the 2050s the average temperatures in the world will rise by 2.5 to 2.8 degrees Celsius. She also said that Pakistan, thought to be the fifth most vulnerable country in the world, may be the number one most-vulnerable country now after the floods.
Sharing analysis from weather stations from 1979 to 2017, she said that researchers have found combinations of extreme heat and humidity doubling over the study period. “Repeated incidents appeared in much of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan,” she said.
Additional Commissioner Syed Jawad Muzaffar spoke about what the administration does during a heatwave. “We contact the meteorological department, the NDMA and PDMA for directions, which we then decimate to government agencies. We prepare camps, put hospitals on emergency. We also carry out regular plantation drives to cool the city while also removing encroachments from public spaces.
Dr Asma Hyder , Professor and Dean of the School of Economics and Social Sciences at IBA , said that she visited the Met department for data. “But there is only some data available there while other data is missing. Or there are difficulties in acquiring data as there are permissions involved,” she said.
Dr Hassan F. Khan, Assistant Professor Environmental Studies at the Dhanani School of Science and Engineering at the Habib University said that the data that he had managed to collect pointed to the fact that Karachi had been warming up over the past decades. “Climate change is area-specific looking at seasons and the minimum and maximum temperatures during the day and during the night to then break down to calendar months. And doing all that, I have seen an increase in temperatures,” he said.
Mohammad Toheed, urban planner and senior research associate at KUL/IBA examined if heat governance is on the right track in urban Pakistan. He compared London heatwave of 1858, the great New York heatwave of 1896, the Chicago heatwave of 1916, the North America heatwave of 1936, the Chicago heatwave of 1994, the European heatwave of 2003 with the deadly heatwave of Pakistan in 2015.
He also pointed out that 2015 was the first time that heat was mentioned in NDMA’s 2015 budget report. Some recommendations from him included: “Heatwaves must be added in the disaster list, which will help allocate certain budget for its risk mitigation, especially at the local scale”. He also said that it must by “linked with climate change justice and climate financing in terms of plantation, urban greening, and water and energy distribution.”
PhD candidate, METU, Turkey and senior research associate at KUL/IBA Adam Abdullah spoke about urban thermal indicators.
Research associates at KUL/IBA Aqdas Fatima and Soha Macktoom; and Professor and Dean, Faculty of Architecture and Management at the NED University Dr Noman Ahmed also spoke.
Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2022