Climate change, environmental problems and pollution, growing uncertainty ”
Pakistan has suffered extreme environmental degradation due to urbanization, overpopulation and deforestation. According to the Pakistan Economic Survey 2013-14, the sprawling growth of cities, increasing population growth and poverty take a heavy toll on the environment.
Through Muhammad Ibrahim Noon
Reports claim that environmental degradation can lead to a loss of PKR 365 billion every year and, as a result, can even damage the economy!
Climate change is primarily global warming caused by the emission of greenhouse gases through human activity and is responsible for large-scale changes in weather conditions. 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. Climate scientists point out that Pakistan is particularly sensitive to the impacts of climate change due to its topography, insufficient technology and resources, and overpopulation. The survey suggests that climate change can negatively affect water resources, health, biodiversity, energy and even agricultural productivity.
The worsening 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 a report by Jawad Memon (a climate expert), the Arabian Sea has warmed with an average surface temperature dropping 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 happens in the Indus Delta. In addition, the condensation of air with pollutants can lead to the formation of photochemical smog which is a mixture of fog and smoke. When inhaled, it is able to increase the risk of heart and lung disease.
Pollution is a very serious and growing problem facing countries today. According to an international study, 92% of all pollution deaths occur in middle-income countries like Pakistan, India and China. Pollution in all its forms: air pollution, water pollution and noise pollution are responsible for environmental degradation. Air pollution occurs when harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides are concentrated. Air pollution is caused by vehicle emissions, industries, agricultural activities and natural causes. It is responsible for certain respiratory and heart diseases. Water pollution is caused by 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 available water is not clean, that is to say it is polluted by waste discharges. Hence, there is inadequate sanitation and waste dumping leading to poor hygiene and poor public health. Noise pollution is another serious concern that is painful and irritating. According to a recent report by the World Health Organization, noise levels above 70 db are painful and irritating while average noise levels in Karachi and Peshawar are 76.5 db and 96 db respectively.
The PTI government has launched several conservation efforts to deal with the deterioration environment which had been a very neglected sector in Pakistan. They launched the “Clean Green Champion Program”, “The Billion Tree Tsunami” and “Natural Conservation Strategy”, all set up to improve environmental conditions in Pakistan. So, if the programs are executed effectively, not only will it prevent environmental degradation, but it will also improve the economy and can help Pakistan save up to PKR 365 billion per year!