The world has become concerned about the continuous climate change phenomenon and its negative repercussions, prompting action to protect the environment and maintain its sustainability for future generations. Pakistan is no different. According to the German Watch Institute, Pakistan is among the top 10 nations most at risk from climate change. Since we are a developing nation with few resources, it is crucial to combat climate change before it is too late. The strategic importance of Pakistan is greatly influenced by its northern regions, which provide water and have close ties to agriculture and tourism. These resources offer hope for rescuing the nation from its economic woes if adequately utilized. There has been a significant increase in domestic and international tourism in recent years due to better transportation infrastructure and the development of northern regions. But as more people visit these areas, they are being exploited to an unprecedented extent, endangering the future of millions of species and our own. Numerous vital species in these areas, including the snow leopard, are at risk due to habitat loss and a lack of ability to adapt to the new environment. This could cause additional problems as well. The process of glacier melt has also been accelerated by rising temperatures, resulting in more glacier lake outburst flows (GLOF) and flash floods. Pakistan’s economy heavily depends on the export of agricultural products from its climate-sensitive territory, which also provides employment. Given this, the nation could suffer enormous harm from natural calamities.
Human health is impacted by climate change in a variety of direct and indirect ways. An increase in global temperatures primarily brings on climate change and its many effects. Long-term exposure to high daytime and nighttime temperatures leads the body to experience cumulative physiological stress, which aggravates the world’s leading causes of suffering and demise, such as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, and kidney disease. Additionally, every bodily stress triggers mental anguish and emotional instability. Climate change and natural calamities like floods provide the possibility of an epidemic caused by vector-borne diseases like malaria or cholera, which would lower people’s productivity. The financial and health restrictions brought on by illness and job loss could cause a recession in a nation where the economy is already having trouble. Ecosystems favourable for the survival of many insects and pathogens are altering due to rising temperatures. For instance, mosquitoes and ticks thrive in warmer climates. As natural habitats disappear due to climate change, animals are forced to find new habitats, which causes new encounters between animals and people and spreads zoonotic illnesses like rabies. Monkeypox, Lassa fever, Rift Valley fever, and Ebola are a few examples of diseases that have been shown to spread more quickly and widely because of warming temperatures.
Finally, we must understand our intricate interaction with ecology. We have historically been found to be reliant on our surroundings to survive. However, the modern era has shown how much control humans have over the environment. Thus, we now must protect it. Only a national effort in conjunction with international measures can accomplish this. It is already known how dependent we are on ecosystems, and whether we lived up to this obligation when we had the chance will be revealed by our actions in the future. Climate change is evident in Pakistan’s disastrous floods. Whatever advancements in development had been made in the flood-affected communities over the years were quickly undone. Years will pass before Pakistan fully recovers from this flood. Future weather events such as heavy and extended rains, cloudbursts, flash floods, heat waves, wildfires, catastrophic storms, tsunamis, cyclones, and droughts are typical examples of how climate change manifests itself. We, therefore, have no idea when or where the following climate change catastrophe will occur. This inevitably makes responding to these circumstances incredibly tough and seldom enough of a preparation.
The causes of climate change, how people who pollute the least are most impacted, environmental injustice, and solutions to unchecked fossil fuel extraction, greenhouse effects, global warming, melting glaciers, and rising oceans have all been extensively discussed on national and international forums. The United Nations has been hosting conferences on global climate change for almost 30 years. Globally, the issue of climate change has dominated this time. To limit the average global temperature increase to below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the historic Paris Agreement was adopted by 196 world leaders in 2015. (Article 2). According to the CDC in America, “new fungal diseases may emerge as fungus grow better adapted to surviving in humans as the range between outdoor temperatures and human body temperatures narrows.” Around 13 million people worldwide every year die from environmental causes alone. Healthcare systems are under tremendous stress because of dealing with these issues in emergency settings on a broad scale and over time. Such a situation, which the WHO has labelled a “public health crisis,” is currently occurring in Pakistan.
The government must undertake urgent reforestation and afforestation projects on mountain slopes. There needs to be widespread participation of the public and the communities in planting drives. The government should construct dams in Thar to store rainwater. Additionally, the government must develop and implement a waste management plan for mountainous regions. Proper trash management practices and public awareness (particularly among tourists) can help reduce the adverse impact of climate change in Pakistan. We must use green energy sources. We have enormous solar energy potential in Thar and hydropower in the north, which can deliver clean, affordable, and consistent energy and help contain the repercussion of climate change in Pakistan. Although these initiatives are desperately needed, it’s also critical to understand that not all of the responsibility for change lies with the government. As informed citizens, we must call for action on these problems and collaborate closely with governmental and non-governmental organizations to see that these solutions are implemented. It is time to stop being a spectator and become involved in climate advocacy.