Coming heatwave

Published May 1, 2023

TEMPERATURES across the country are expected to rise from May 18 — as high as 46°C in some Sindh districts — with the Met Office forecasting hot and dry weather. As the mercury rises, there are fears that, aside from the suffering that is unleashed on those battling the heat, the country’s water reservoirs too will be under stress, and that crop, vegetable and fruit produce could be affected as a consequence. Demand for energy and water will increase, the Met Office said, warning that they should be used judiciously. Sadly, this is all a part of climate change that Pakistan cannot wish away. Instead, as we wait for collaborative international actions to take place and hopefully bring down current global warming levels, the country will have to learn ways of coping, with heatwaves in South Asia becoming more intense, and arriving earlier than expected.

Though Pakistan is not among the biggest polluters, it has borne the brunt of the extreme impact of a changing climate and heating world. Time and again, officials from developing countries have demanded, as they should, compensation for the loss and damage unleashed on their countries by the world’s top emitters. But our responsibility does not end there. Pollution within Pakistan also remains unchecked. The government continues to pursue energy from dirty fuels and cities keep growing. This must cease if we want to imagine a future where Pakistan can be a liveable place. Our policymakers must factor in extreme scenarios when making decisions about construction, energy and water. City planners must think of using resources that are resilient, have a low carbon footprint and that also add a cooling effect to the surroundings. Every year, the poorest among us suffers immeasurably during heatwaves, while those who can afford it splurge on polluting cooling systems. Our officials need to wake up to these realities and not treat their effects as some faraway event in the future.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2023

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