A couple of days back, I was passing a road whose surface was being scraped off by an earthmover as a new layer of coal tar was to be spread on it. This seemingly unnecessary development was going on close to a few shrubs, with dry and scraggly leaves, lined on a footpath by the road. The heatwave and rising temperatures that are being witnessed in different parts of the country are a result of a disturbed atmospheric cycle, but we cannot absolve ourselves of all responsibility in this case.
Since childhood, we have known that ecology and climate go hand in hand, but it seems that this has been reduced to just a piece of information we remember from one of our science textbooks, as trees, nature and green spaces seem less important in real life situations . And as we continue to trail along the path of important developments with flyovers and underpasses dotting the maps of the cities we live in (Karachi in my case), the green patches of land that are so crucial to survival, are swept away in the background.
Now, these structures might make our city look neat and tidy, a positive step indeed, but it is a little difficult to understand the work on these edifices being made the priority in a city where the majority uses buses to commute. Flyovers, for a population that largely uses buses to travel, are no better than plastic leaves or paintings used to decorate a room. More than these pseudo-indicators of development, the majority in our cities need better public transport, pavements and plenty of trees and green spaces so they can walk with convenience. Flyovers and other first-world structures seem like pretty-looking carpets that have been spread over an un-cemented floor.
Those from the populace, who often have to walk miles daily, like vendors with pushcarts, may benefit more from the shade of a tree or a patch of grass where they could take some respite on scorching days than from the building of a flyover.
Like koalas, even humans need to cling to trees during hot weather. A study in The Guardian showed that koalas cling to trees to shed body heat as trees have been found to have lower temperature. Hence, just like koalas, those of us who spend most of our time outdoors need the cool branches of trees to provide respite on scorching days.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2015.
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