Pakistan’s catastrophic stance after the floods | By Mushtaq Jan

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Pakistan’s catastrophic stance after the floods

THE recent incessant rains wreaked havoc on agriculture and urban life in Pakistan. The floodwater ripped through the infrastructure destroying roads, bridges and smaller dams. Roads turned into canals.

The buildings and houses on the river banks were swept away by the gushing hostile water waves.

Villages gave a look of islands. River Indus on the plains turned into a huge lake. It has been estimated that 1500 people lost their lives while 33 million got displaced.

More than one million homes got damaged or destroyed. Agricultural lands turned into big ponds with a massive loss of crops and livestock.

Damage has been so unprecedented that it is believed it would take at least six to ten months to put life back on track.

The loss anticipated in the aftermath of the flood is incalculable. The country has yet to prepare for the rehabilitation of people, eradication of ensuing diseases and stamping out the acute food shortages.

Two prominent factors contributing to this massive devastation was the weaker infrastructure to handle such an intense deluge and the unpreparedness of the respective government agencies to tackle it.

But what was the cause of three months of unrelenting rains that resulted in the most destructive season in the country’s recent history.

One of the likely factors of the deluge was global warming as put forward by the climate experts.

Global warming was the strong catalyst in making this season’s Monsoon more fierce and disastrous.

Drawing upon the computer technology, AI, software algorithms and vast climate data of past and present, the scientists can develop climate simulation models close to reality.

These models reveal the hidden mechanisms that drive complex weather patterns, leading to better attributions and forecasts of extreme events.

They can determine the variations in atmospheric behaviour caused by the human-induced changes in Earth’s chemistry.

Scientists can thus establish the relation between global warming and changes in the climate to a greater accuracy.

One such study is conducted by a group of twenty six scientists affiliated with a group called World Weather Attribution.

It comprises the world renowned climate scientists belonging to the climate organizations of various countries the world over.

The computer models created by the scientists are run several times over and then averaging the results to arrive at a most appropriate conclusion.

They also compare the simulations against records of actual events that had occurred in the past.

Further, they established that the heat that scorched Pakistan this spring had been higher in intensity than in the recent past.

The researchers thus concluded confidently that climate change was the main contributing factor to intensifying this year’s heavy downpour and the ensuing worst flooding.

Another factor is Pakistan’s highly varied topography, traversing from its warm southern coast and central plains to the cool high Himalayan peaks in the north.

One German scientist with the group postulated that the South Asian monsoon begins each spring when the land warms and draws in moisture-rich air from the Indian Ocean.

The route of this air follows into Pakistan over the Himalayan region. When this air hits the mountains it cools down. Its cargo of vapor condenses into rain and in the process, releases heat.

The heat draws even more air toward the land from the sea, which keeps the monsoon going and intensifying.

The more the planet is warmed, the more moisture is in the system, which means the rains are amplified.

It is made worse if anything blocks this inflow, such as heavy air pollution. On the one hand, by spring end, we suffer from drier seasons resulting in drought in some areas, on the other hand we are inundated with heavy rains around the middle of the year.

It’s a big dilemma for the farmers not getting rain when it’s needed the most and then getting their crops drowned in water when it’s not needed.

The irony of this devastation is that Pakistan is responsible for less than 1% of the world’s planet-warming gasses, as compared to developed nations with an average of 10%, as European Union data shows, yet it is the eighth most vulnerable nation to the climate crisis, according to the Global Climate Risk Index.

Pakistan is paying a hefty price with lives, infrastructure, food and diseases for destructive effects of the greenhouse gases pumped into the air by the industrialized nations.

As the data and analysis indicate, the heavy monsoons would be a recurring event. Pakistan is incapable of fighting against nature.

Neither can it influence the industrialized world to fulfil their committed obligations on limiting the emission of global warming gases.

But one thing that can be done is to maximize the infrastructure by strengthening the barrages and dams.

Building of more dams and reinforcing the river and canal banks where needed to restrict the destruction and to streamline the flow of rivers and canals.

—The writer is an Engineer, is currently in the United States.

 

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