Climate Change — Threat Or Farce

Abid Latif Sindhu:

Literature is the collection of human expression using different genres. Tragedy, melodrama, irony, comedy or farce, all depictions are the encapsulations of time, history and events in prose. All the time human beings are passing through some of these literary experiences. Strange to note, even scientific discoveries come under the influence of either of these. Every scientist of intent has to be immersed in the romanticism of discovery through sensory perception. Pakistan is facing a challenge about which very little awareness exists in the society. Climate change or the weather shenanigans are now unleashed in its different manifestations. Like all the developing countries our wannabes are taking it as something which will only affect the developed world.
Chicken have already come home to roost, the effects have started appearing, but the naysayers are still adamant that this is just a whiff of passing clouds. Pakistan is endowed with a very benevolent weather system that depends upon the Monsoons from the Indian Ocean and their harvesting at Himalayas. The snow caps of Northern Areas are one of the biggest reservoirs of fresh water, which is available throughout the year. Pakistan is an agrarian economy, 70 percent of its population is directly and another 20 percent indirectly linked to agriculture. When Monsoon fails the society is at the Precipice; now when the glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, the existence of complete lower riparian is in jeopardy.
The Indians probably sensed the same a decade ago and made several reservoirs upon our rivers, when we were busy in our political tangos back stage. No more time left for any other polka event. In stratosphere, the ozone over Pakistan is depleting with an alarming speed, the data from ozone stations around the world dating 1987-2013 proves this disturbing development. This is enough reality to keep every Pakistani up at night, but the slumber is the only thing we see as our strategy to face the upcoming challenges. The recent five days rains which affected the wheat crop is the result of al-Nino. This is not where it stops; it might also result in the decreased Monsoon this year, as the jet streams over the Pacific oceans have shed the moisture leaving the Monsoon to be very weak in intensity. The harvesting of rice over an ever increased area is also resulting into the green house effect as the methane from rice fields are acting as additional warmer to the already heated blanket.
In Pakistan even climate velocity has started taking place. Climate velocity is a term not even known to the climate savvy minority of the country. The animals are migrating from their habitats rather they are moving up the country. The pigs from Margallas and surroundings have moved towards Murree Hills; the mountain crows who where usually seen in areas at around 4,000 feet are now only seen at around 6,000 and above. The monkeys from the hills are desperately in search of more food as the shrebs in the mountain are withering away due to rise in temperature. This all is happening in Pakistan some 30 kilometers away from the capital.
This disturbing phenomenon is the climate velocity. The effect of climate change is now threatening the security of Pakistan. The failure of crops, mass migrations, populations stress and rising temperatures will unhinge the social fabric of already ethnically divided society. Security threats are dealt with a mechanism which starts from realization of the problem, the measures to correct the deviations and a long term strategy to tackle; all of these things are missing in dealing with the climate vows of Pakistan.
World has moved beyond the terminologies of green house gases or chloro-floro-carbons. This is the age of global commons. In Pakistan’s security calculus the global commons is a missing concept which is still not a priority. The state was fighting the menace of terrorism, which has challenged its authority. As now due to the success of Zarb-e-Azb, it is time to concentrate on effects of climate change. The principle of adaptation and mutual restrain will not be effective if the people are not made aware of the coming danger.
During coming decades the Pakistani people might have to face the much less availability of water, erratic weather, droughts, pest and viral infestations and the rising poverty. All these issues come under the realm of national security, now is the time to launch the climatic facet of Zarb-a-Azb. Even after having a feel of climatic change, we do not respond as a nation. Then the history will write a literary irony depicting us as a nation which was reading a transcript of action from 17th century circa the broad day light of 21st century.

The author is PhD scholar at National Defence University, Islamabad.