ISLAMABAD: In the past decade, we have witnessed a series of floods that affected parts of Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) periodically, causing catastrophic damages to infrastructure, property and hence, economy. Then, there were droughts for most of rural Sindh and a severe heatwave last year.
At present, floods, droughts and their management is costing the government around $1 billion indirectly each year.
Flood-hit Pakistan turns to India
One may question, that despite adopting the so called ‘sustainable practices’ to minimise carbon footprint, why are these measures completely ineffective when it comes to changing climate patterns?
The answer to this question is explained by the ‘Gaian theory’ i.e. these cataclysmic damages happen due to lack of nature conservation and consistent despoliation of countryside.
Today, the worldwide global warming has become a real and bigger threat compared to that of the nuclear world war.
For the first time in history, we now see ice-free water at the poles in summer due to accelerated melting of glaciers in Greenland. It is certain that the exact consequences of this global warming phenomenon shall be far worse than the scientific realistic predictions, which have been ignored by interfering bureaucrats for the sake of dirty politics.
To make matters worse, our model capital is no longer the green capital: a major chunk of ‘greenfields’ around Margalla hills have been ‘brown-ified.’
Over a million people affected by floods in Pakistan: NDMA
The Gaian organism has had self-regulated global temperature, atmospheric content, ocean salinity, and other factors in an “automatic” manner for millions of years but now the intervention from man has reached a point that this feedback system is on the verge of a breakage.
The need for radical policy reforms
The element of vagueness dominates in the government’s guidance, as found in our national climate / environment policy.
It is due to this abstraction of regulations that many projects pass the test of compliance by conducting a flawed survey related to biodiversity practices.
This also reflects government position that all conservation areas are of least importance and the short term socio-economic activity is preferred over the long-term benefits of nature conservation.
According to our conservation policies, any development which results in the deterioration of greenbelts should be refused save in the most ‘exceptional circumstances’.
However we see consistent encroachments and clearing of Margalla greenbelts in Islamabad – not to mention other cities. Mature trees are associated with some of the field boundaries and a proportion of the trees around Margalla hills have been shown to support a valuable terrestrial invertebrate assemblage.
Met office predicts more rains, floods across Pakistan
However, as anticipated, the government has no regard for its own self-made policies and uses diplomatic ways to deviate from the rules such as quoting ‘exceptional circumstances’. The establishment tends to manipulate the directives in these acts by using a ‘fluffy language.’
This paints a really dark picture in the chapter of nature conservation.
Furthermore, the scheme contradicts or fails to support development plan environmental policy. If the encroachment and the development of Margalla greenbelts is given a green signal, then it will severely damage the balance of eco-systems in this region. It is also sad that such plans tend to weight the value of nature degradation in ‘monetary terms’ and use fancy terms such as balance sheets and Net Present Value (NPVs) to show that it does not really matter.
The present weather calamities and catastrophes are not happening by chance; neither is our present unsustainable and wasteful lifestyle.
It has been created by a rapacious system of unfettered capitalism driven by greed, with the enthusiastic collusion of short sighted venal politicians.
It was created with scant regard for the environmental ravages unleashed. George Monbiot once wrote that “if you talk about the problems of global warming, people call you a Saint, but if you talk about the solutions to global warming, people call you a communist.”
The writer is a Cambridge graduate and is working as a management consultant
Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2016.
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