It is not as if there was no warning. For more than a decade Pakistan has been tagged as in the top 10 — and often the top 5 — nations to be affected by global warming. It has always been a hot country outside the mountainous north; and even there rising temperatures are giving us glacial melt and retreat. Now there is a warning that parts of South Asia may become uninhabitable by the year 2100, a mere 82 years away. This is a tiny sliver of time when seen in the context of the life of planet Earth and it is approaching fast. At Sibi in Balochistan this summer the mercury hit 52.4°C, fortunately with very low levels of humidity. Were humidity high then life would have perhaps become unsustainable at that temperature.
Climate change is here to stay no matter what is the cause — and for south Asia it is a purely academic argument anyway as the region reels under catastrophic monsoon floods. There is a limit to what humans can tolerate temperature wise if they do not have protection, and if the ‘2100’ prediction is true then 30 per cent of the population across the region are going to be exposed to extreme temperatures with little or, as in the case of powerless Balochistan — no protection because for most of the population there is no electricity.
Unfortunately for Pakistan the boiling frog analogy is not far from the mark. The dreadful heat of the last year was endured then forgotten as the dreadful heat of the current year supersedes it — and so on ad infinitum. The water supplies are drying up, cities like Karachi are already in a potable water crisis, and the demographic is on a kamikaze-like dive into chaos. Coupled with a poverty of ideas as to how to mitigate the worst effect of the warming we see around us it is a bleak — and hot — future.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2017.
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