Climate change, environmental problems and pollution, growing uncertainty »

Pakistan has suffered extreme environmental degradation via urbanization, overpopulation and deforestation. According to the Pakistan Economic Survey 2013-14, sprawling cities, increasing population growth and poverty are taking a heavy toll on the environment.

Through Mohammad Ibrahim Noon

Reports claim that environmental degradation can lead to a loss of PKR 365 billion every year and as a result, it can even deteriorate the economy!

Climate change is primarily global warming caused by the emission of greenhouse gases by human activity and is responsible for large-scale changes in the climate regime. Human activity burns fossil fuels to produce energy that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This greenhouse gas traps thermal energy from the sun, causing a greenhouse effect. Climatologists point out that Pakistan is particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change due to its topography, insufficient technology and resources, and overcrowding. The survey suggests that climate change can negatively affect water resources, health, biodiversity, energy and even agricultural productivity.

Aggravation Environmental conditions cause certain environmental problems that boost the lives of individuals in the society. Pakistan is prone to different forms of natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and cyclones. According to a disaster management report, the provinces of Gilgit Baltistan, Balochistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir are more vulnerable to natural disasters than Punjab and Sindh, which are low-lying areas. According to the report by Jawad Memon (a climate expert), the Arabian Sea has warmed up with the average surface temperature rising from 29 to 31 degrees Celsius in just two years. Not only does this push the sea into coastal areas, but it also harms people’s livelihoods, as is the case in the Indus Delta. In addition, the condensation of the air with pollutants can lead to the formation of photochemical smog which is the mixture of fog and smoke. When inhaled, it is able to increase the risk of heart and lung diseases.

Pollution is a very serious and growing problem facing countries nowadays. According to an international study, 92% of all pollution-related deaths occur in middle-income countries like Pakistan, India and China. Pollution in all its forms: air pollution, water pollution and noise pollution is responsible for environmental degradation. Air pollution occurs during the concentration of harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides. Air pollution is caused by vehicle emissions, industries, agricultural activities and natural causes. It is responsible for certain respiratory and heart diseases. Water pollution occurs due to the disposal of domestic and industrial waste. According to the IMF (International Monetary Fund), Pakistan is ranked third to third number in the list of countries facing water scarcity. In addition, most of the water available is not clean, that is to say, it is polluted by waste discharges. Consequently, there is inadequate sanitation and waste dumps leading to poor sanitation and poor public health. Noise pollution is another serious concern that is painful and irritating. According to a recent World Health Organization report, noise levels above 70dB are painful and irritating, while average noise levels in Karachi and Peshawar are 76.5dB and 96dB respectively.

The PTI government has launched several conservation efforts to address environmental degradation which had been a much neglected sector in Pakistan. They launched “Clean Green Champion Program”, “The Billion Tree Tsunami” and “Natural Conservation Strategy”, all aimed at improving environmental conditions in Pakistan. So, if the programs are executed effectively, it will not only prevent environmental degradation but also improve the economy and can help Pakistan save up to PKR 365 billion per year!

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