Tormenting heat wave

MOST parts of the country including Karachi are once again in the grip of severe heat wave. On Sunday Mithi with 45 degrees Celsius remained the hottest place in the country while Karachi and Sibi sizzled at 44 degree Celsius. According to the Met Office, the current spell of hot and dry weather would continue for the next four to five days with maximum temperature in Mithi likely to go up further and may touch 48 degree Celsius by Thursday. Several other parts of Sindh province are likely to brave 43 degree Celsius.
The experts describe heat wave a symptom of global climate change, aggravated by deforestation and rapid urbanisation. There has been a significant rise in the Earth’s average temperature over the last 100 years due to which we are experiencing such extreme weather conditions both in summers and winters. Climate science has confirmed that because of global warning such events will be more frequent and more intense. In fact a few years back Karachi was caught off guard when a deadly heat wave hit the provincial metropolis and claimed the life of about twelve hundred people due to heatstroke and dehydration. Since then it is encouraging to see that the provincial government has put in place necessary arrangements and prepared a heat management plan envisaging also first response centres and a team of volunteers to cope with the emergency arising out of the heat wave. The plan has so far remained successful but given the fasting season, it is also vital for both the federal and provincial governments to make sure uninterrupted power supply to the consumers.
As the heat wave is gripping other provinces also, it is imperative that a comprehensive strategy is evolved to deal with such kind of disastrous events. Cue can also be taken from the multi-tier plan adopted by Karachi. In fact our best bet would be to plant more trees and green spaces are increased on an emergency basis. Provincial and District governments should issue special directives in this context besides monitoring its implementation. Then capacity of individuals and communities needs to be built to respond to the heat stress during heat waves by raising health awareness campaigns in the country before the onset of heat wave season. The issue of climate change also needs to be included in the curriculum at school and college levels as it will not only help create awareness amongst the youth but also better prepare them to deal with the challenge which is being described as far more horrendous than terrorism.

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