Climate Change Essay Css Forum

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Essay on climate change and implications for Pakistan

Request to all respected members to please check this essay. I shall be grateful for suggestions. Thanks.

Climate change: Implications for Pakistan

Thesis statement: Climate change, if not addressed adequately, will have dire economic, social, geographical and political implications for Pakistan

1. Introduction
2. Pakistan and Climate change: Current scenario
3. Implications of Climate change
a. Economic impacts
• Agriculture sector deterioration
• Manufacturing sector in harm’s way
• Shrinking economy, tax base and human development
b. Social Impacts
• Mass unemployment and its effect on youth
• Women at risk
• Health problems and malnutrition
• Uncontrollable urbanization
c. Geographical impacts
• Changing topography and frequent disasters
• Damage to the ecosystem
d. Political impacts
• Political upheaval in the face of deteriorating economy
• Water depletion and Provincial discords
• Political fallout of mass migrations
4. Recommendations
a. Resource conservation
b. Agriculture research
c. Building community resilience
d. Engaging international community
5. Conclusion

“Climate change is no longer some far-off problem; it is happening here, it is happening now”
Barack Obama

Climate change is one of the biggest problems the whole world is collectively facing. The deterioration of the earth’s climate can be seen and felt most obviously in South East Asia, particularly Pakistan. As one of the most heavily affected countries by climate change, Pakistan faces numerous economic, social, geographical and political problems. Already the hazardous impacts of climate change in the form of smog and abnormal heatwaves have claimed precious lives. The catastrophic impact on the economy of Pakistan, particularly the deterioration of the agriculture sector, can plunge the country into dire straits. Moreover, by aggrandizing social inequities, bringing about mass migrations and internal displacements in different parts of the country, climate change may induce a social, geographical and political imbalance which would entail a host of challenging problems. All in all, climate change has serious implications for Pakistan, which will only worsen with the passage of time unless adequate measures are taken.

Climate change has been one of the most talked about issue, particularly since the start of the twenty first century. There are a number of factors contributing to the increasingly erratic weather patterns being witnessed all over the world, with carbon emissions being the major one. According to Germanwatch, publisher of the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), Pakistan is the seventh most vulnerable country to climate change. What makes this situation even more alarming is the fact that more than half of the population lives on less than two dollars a day and the country relies on its diminishing resources quite heavily. As a developing country, with abject poverty and severely limited resources, climate change has the potential to become the biggest and most destructive problem for Pakistan in the future. But the saddest realization is that even though Pakistan is classified as one of the most vulnerable countries with respect to climate change, it is not a major emitter of greenhouse gasses. In fact, Pakistan’s emission levels are negligible, standing at a mere 0.7 percent of the total world emissions. Simply put, Pakistan is a victim of climate change.

Pakistan faces many challenges in the backdrop of worsening climatic conditions. These problems are not restricted to any specific area of life, rather they extend to almost every sphere of life, complementing each other. In the economic sphere, climate change poses a formidable threat. Water availability, over the years, has been decreasing for the agriculture sector. Since Pakistan is heavily dependent on the agriculture sector for its foreign earnings, any damage to this sector would present a problem of far reaching consequences. If agriculture production drops significantly, Pakistan’s trade balance, already volatile and highly unfavorable, would worsen. In such a case, importing food items to cover the production deficit would also be difficult, since the government would not be in a position to cover the import bill. Stringent loans form the world bank and IMF would be the only recourse for stabilization.

Since the manufacturing sector of Pakistan is closely linked with the agriculture sector, it is also not safe from the effects of climate change. Value added products of Pakistan, an important contributor to the total export base, rely on locally produced raw materials. With increasingly erratic weather pattern hampering agricultural production, Pakistani industry would have to import basic raw materials, stressing the current account deficit further. The direct outcome would be a very weak local currency and subsequently expensive imports. Industries might even relocate abroad to save costs of production. This relocation, and the harm it can cause, was witnessed firsthand in the last 10 years as Pakistan’s textile industry relocated to Bangladesh and other countries due to power shortage.

Preceding arguments make it clear that climate change has a negative relationship with a country’s economy i.e. it’s GDP. This stance has already been supported by various professionals, particularly by William Nordhaus, a famous American economist with commendable work on the economics of climate change. For a poor country like Pakistan, lower GDP means even lower tax collection, on account of decreasing commerce and increasing bad governance. Lower tax collection would logically be followed by either decrease in public expenditures i.e. healthcare, education, law and order etc. or increase in an already significant public debt, repaying of which might not be possible. What must also be kept in mind is that climate change also brings with it natural disasters such as flash floods, droughts and cyclones, causing damage which requires significant economic resources to repair. For instance, the floods of 2010 caused damage amounting to 10 billion dollars, as per a research by Lead Institute. So, the people of Pakistan may either face even lower investment in human development, lower than it already is, or they may become even more indebted and might have to pay exorbitant taxes, effectively cutting their purchase power and find themselves caught in a vicious circle of poverty.

Climate change will also create a plethora of social problems, some being direct consequences of economic degradation while others being standalone. Since the agriculture will be affected quite significantly, a massive jump in unemployment will undoubtedly be witnessed. What makes matters even more alarming is the fact that the labor employed in this sector is among the lowest earners and least protected through state welfare. Pakistan already faces a significant youth bulge with high unemployment. A large population of young unemployed people, due to economic slowdown, is a potential recipe for a disaster. Such people are most inclined towards crime, deskilling, social exclusion as well as mental health problems. Such problems, on a grand level, threaten to undo the social fabric of the society.

Women are one of the most vulnerable groups in any society. They are also disproportionately affected by climate change all over the world. The women of Pakistan are no exception to this rule. A significant number of rural women in Pakistan are engaged in agricultural activities. In cases of natural uncertainties, such as droughts and deforestation, these women find it more difficult to relocate to greener pastures, owing to their families and children. This leads to increasing poverty, which translates into malnutrition, health problems and lower education among women. The status of women development is already quite poor in Pakistan, and the current deterioration of climate can cause significant harm to it.

Aggravated climate change will severely deteriorate human health. Warmer climate will result in the increase of many water and air and borne diseases. Without concrete steps to alleviate the impacts of climate change, the poor among the Pakistani population will be highly vulnerable to these diseases. Additionally, deteriorating food security because of lower agriculture production will increase malnutrition, subsequently decreasing immunity to diseases. Furthermore, health facilities may be too expensive for them to avail. Already, 45 percent of rural, and 36 percent of urban children in Pakistan are suffering from malnutrition. If these statistics worsen, Pakistan might face a health emergency.

Urbanization, already increasing at a fast pace, will see a boost as climate change wreaks havoc in the rural areas, and people start to relocate to urban areas. The urban centers of Pakistan already face the problem of urban squalor. Karachi, specifically, is host to a large number of local and international refugees, and barely manages to accommodate them. Lahore, another urban center of Pakistan, has a very high pollution density, and the problems that come with it. As the problem of urbanization worsens, one can expect more slums, water scarcity, pollution, higher crime rates and various other problems to exacerbate. Over time, Pakistan’s urban centers may not be livable at all.

The geographical impacts of climate change are also significant. Pakistan has a 1,046-km coastline which millions of people live upon. Over the years, it has been witnessed that the sea level has been continuously rising. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) corroborates this claim with its research, predicting an increase in sea level by up to 59 cm by the year 2100. This trend threatens to sink Pakistan’s coastal areas in the future. Climate change has also caused natural disasters such as floods, droughts and tropical cyclones in Pakistan. The frequency of these disasters has been dangerously high. Floods, for example, have become a yearly problem since 2010. The intensity of these disasters would only increase with climate deterioration, changing the geographical landscape of Pakistan.

Changing geographical features of Pakistan present a challenge to the natural ecosystem. One such challenge is the loss of biodiversity. Increasing ocean acidity, due to increasing atmospheric carbon di oxide, threatens to destroy coral reefs on the Sindh-Baluchistan coast. The desert ecosystem of Pakistan is already adversely affected by climate change, making the lives of people and livestock very difficult. The drying up of the Indus river bed has endangered the habitat of the Indus river dolphin, and dwindles the water flow to the mangrove cover in Pakistan’s coastal areas. If adequate measures are not taken, climate change can induce an unhealthy imbalance in our ecosystem.

Politics, in any country, does not operate in isolation. As climate change increasingly influences the economy, society and geography, the political situation in Pakistan is bound to change. The economic ramifications of climate change will be at the center of political discord. Political parties in Pakistan have historically not responded effectively to deteriorating economic conditions. Economic uncertainties can quickly turn into public uprisings, which opportunist politicians may quickly get behind in order to further their own political goals. This opportunism has been witnessed many times before, for instance, loans from IMF in the past, although not a choice but a necessity, have been criticized by many, only to gain political leverage. Such populist’s have not performed economically well in the past, and if allowed to govern, the results would be highly dangerous for Pakistan’s political institutions, which are already at a nascent stage of development.

The provinces of Pakistan do have a certain degree of mistrust among each other. Although the 18th constitutional amendment has done much to placate the provinces, the impacts of climate change present many difficulties. Water scarcity issue has been used previously for political purposes, with ethnic overtones. As climate change depletes Pakistan’s water supplies, which is evident from the fast pace at which Pakistan’s glaciers are melting, political discords among the provinces might also intensify, causing harm to Pakistan’s unity.

Another problem that climate change will create is mass migration. As many areas become inhabitable due to water scarcity, disasters or other problems, a large number of people are expected to move to different parts of the country. This presents a serious political challenge for Pakistan. Mass migrations have been seen with suspicion in the past by certain political parties, viewing them as a way of decreasing their majority. Baluchistan is the most glaring example of this problem, where some nationalist political entities are uncomfortable with the presence of a large number of non-Baluch speaking people, particularly Afghans and internally displaced persons, in the province. This problem can spread to other parts of Pakistan, subsequently increasing political discords and threatening its federal structure of government.

Although climate change presents substantial challenges to Pakistan, in the present and in the future, all is not lost yet. In this age of science and technology, humans are well equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to take precautions against climate change. First and foremost,
Pakistan needs to conserve its resources. The issue of water scarcity needs to be effectively conveyed to the public, inducing judicious use of water in households. The government can increase water tax to control excessive its excessive use, and curtail water theft and diversion by influential landowners. Dams must also be built on war footing to store fresh water. Such steps can help Pakistan in slowing down the impacts of climate change, buying valuable time to implement other long-term policies.

As already discussed, the agriculture sector is the biggest casualty of climate change, hence research in this area is the need of the hour. The government has the technology to predict weather conditions. Their knowledge must be communicated to the farming community to act accordingly in cases of abrupt changes in weather, averting crop failures. Research must also be conducted on newer variety of seeds, which should be resistant to the changing environment and have higher productivity. This way, the problem of food security may also be tackled.

Success of government measures to mitigate climate change impacts depends upon community resilience. This means that the local communities in Pakistan make themselves aware of the problems being faced by them, and how they may reduce their exposure to these dangers as a collective group. Local governments and civil societies can play a constructive role in this regard. They can help in effectively disseminating knowledge for the benefit of those who are at risk. A strong response from the communities is paramount to successfully withstand climate change.

Since climate change does not differentiate between borders, Pakistan too must look beyond its borders for help. The international community is well aware of climate change and its effects on Pakistan. The developed world has the skills and technological experience to cope with climate change. Pakistan must engage the international community at various fora for financial and technical assistance. Being a signatory to the Paris climate agreement, Pakistan deserves the help of the international community to fight climate change.

Pakistan faces many problems such as poverty, overpopulation, high level of unemployment, malnutrition etc. Climate change threatens to exacerbate these problems to unprecedented levels. The social, economic, geographical and political impacts of climate change threaten the existence of Pakistan in the future. In order to survive climate change, necessary steps must be undertaken. To this end, the government and the people of Pakistan needs to enhance cooperation in various fields, and the international community needs to be engaged. If these efforts are made wholeheartedly, Pakistan can successfully weather the storm, and leave a brighter future for its coming generations.

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