Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Climate Change Likely to Flood Karachi Coastline

At 8 feet below sea level, Pakistan's financial capital Karachi shows up on the list of world's mega-cities threatened by global warming. Other South Asian cities likely to come under rising sea water in the next 100 years include Mumbai, Kolkata and Dhaka.

The South Asian governments are sufficiently concerned about potential effects of global warming to warrant a meeting to hammer out a regional response. South Asian experts on climate change are beginning two days of talks in Dhaka today, ahead of a meeting of environment ministers from countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). According to Reuters, Bangladesh has proposed the creation of a fund to fight climate change in densely populated South Asia, which experts say is vulnerable to rising seas, melting glaciers and greater extremes of droughts and floods. For the rich South Asians thinking of fleeing to real estate in Dubai, the forecast for the GCC countries is no better. Experts believe the Palm and the World projects in Dubai will disappear underwater in 50 years if the issue of climate change fails to be addressed by governments.

According to a report by the Associated Press, the nonprofit Worldwatch Institute has compiled a list of 21 "mega-cities" of 8 million people or more that are in direct danger as a result of global warming and rising seas: They include Dhaka, Bangladesh; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Shanghai and Tianjin in China; Alexandria and Cairo in Egypt; Mumbai and Kolkata in India; Jakarta, Indonesia; Tokyo and Osaka-Kobe in Japan; Lagos, Nigeria; Karachi, Pakistan; Bangkok, Thailand, and New York and Los Angeles in the United States, according to studies by the United Nations and others.

More than one-tenth of the world's population, or 643 million people, live in low-lying areas at risk from climate change, according to U.S. and European experts. Most at risk, in descending order, are China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Egypt, the U.S., Thailand and the Philippines.

As a nation, Bangladesh has the most to worry about the effects of climate change in South Asia. A recent story in the Guardian talks about Bangladesh as "flood-prone" because of its geography. Situated across a vast delta where three great rivers join, Bangladesh is known to be flood-prone. Not only does it have monsoon rain to deal with, but the slow warming of the earth's atmosphere is releasing more water from Himalayan glaciers above the flatlands of Bangladesh. Climate change, say scientists, also means higher tides in the Bay of Bengal. The result is trillions more liters of water sloshing over the country, depositing billions of tons of sediment. Experts say a third of Bangladesh's coastline could be flooded if the Bay of Bengal rises three feet in the next 50 years, displacing 20 million Bangladeshis from their homes and farms, according to Reuters. Across the region, warmer weather could cause more intense and more frequent cyclones and storm surges, leading to more salt water fouling waterways and farmlands, the experts said. Corp yields in South Asia could decrease up to 30 percent by the mid-21st century, they added.

Bangladesh has taken the initiative by proposing a SAARC fund for climate change and allocated US$44 million for this purpose in its current fiscal year budget. "We want to find a common stand among the South Asian countries and will raise our voice together against the perils of climate changes," said Raja Devasish Roy, head of the Environment and Forest Ministry of Bangladesh, after opening the experts' meeting in Dhaka today. Devasish said industrialized countries were the most to blame for global warming and should compensate poorer nations by providing them grants -- not loans -- to fight the effects of climate change.

While Bangladesh is admirably leading the charge to address the impact of climate change, it is important that the rest of South Asians, particularly India and Pakistan, join it to protect the planet in this noble effort. As part of this challenge, it is time for SAARC leaders to think of structural changes needed for a world without oil. The SAARC nations owe it to their future generations and the rest of the planet.


Riaz Haq said...

As the Copenhagen climate change conference begins, India is facing the reality of being a major polluter the world mainly because of extensive use of coal as source of energy for its economy. Pakistan, on other hand, relies more on natural gas for energy and uses very little coal, in spite of having large deposits of it in Sind province.

Here's a story from Dawn on the use of coal in India:

A thin coat of coal dust covers everything from trees to houses in Korba, a coal mining town in central India which lies at the heart of the country’s struggle to balance economic growth with climate change concerns.

The air is heavy with smoke and dust spewing out of numerous mines and power plants in a region that powers hundreds of factories in the country’s industrial west and lights up millions of homes.

Although India has announced a new climate plan which identifies renewable energy such as solar power as key elements,

Coal remains the backbone of energy supply in a country where almost half the 1.1 billion population still has no electricity.

‘Coal-fired power will stay for the next 20-25 years at least,’ said R.D. Sonkar, chief engineer at one of Korba’s many thermal power stations.

‘Look at the high cost of solar and wind energy. Can we afford? Power from renewable energy will have to wait, I think.’

As the world meets in Copenhagen for crucial negotiations on a global pact to fight climate change, part of the debate will be on how developing countries such as India tackle the use of fossil fuel without hampering their growth.

India, the world’s fourth largest greenhouse gas emitter though still low on per-capita emissions, is under pressure to cut pollution to battle climate change while demand for power increases as its middle class clamours for more cars, TVs and housing.

India set a goal on Thursday for slowing the growth of its greenhouse gas emissions, saying it was willing to rein in its ‘carbon intensity’ — the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted per unit of economic output — by between 20 and 25 per cent by 2020, from 2005 levels.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's another report from last year about India significantly lagging Pakistan in clean energy and CNG usage:

New Delhi, May 5, 2008
India is way behind Pakistan in terms of its gas pipeline network, with the neighboring country’s network stretching around 56,400 km against its 10,500 km, connecting only 20 cities compared to Pakistan’s 1,050, industry body Assocham said.

Pakistan’s pipeline density, at present is 1044 km/mmscmd (million metric standard cubic meter per day) per day compared to 116 km/mmscmd of India, Assocham said in its paper on gas sector ‘A Comparison between India and Pakistan’.

The neighbouring country has created a 31,000 km distribution network to serve its domestic and commercial consumers in large locations, against the 11,000 km network that have so far been build in India to serve the needs of its consumers in limited pockets, the report said.

While Pakistan has nearly 1,600 CNG stations, India has 380. The gas throughput in Pakistan is 38 mmscmd per day as against 8.5 mmscmd gas in India.

The number of gas customers and vehicles running on CNG in Pakistan is about 19 lakh and 15.6 lakh respectively, while in India the number is 5.50 lakh and 4.60 lakh.

“The gas availability in Pakistan is undoubtedly quite large, compared to India but given the imports of gas and even its domestic availability in India, its pipeline network is extremely poor and the main reason attributed for the low and limited pipeline network in India is because this sector has been thoroughly regulated which has now been opened for competition,” Assocham president Venugopal Dhoot said.

The paper added that since the pipeline network in India does not reach out to most of the potential demand centres, a number of industrial projects, which would ideally run on gas, have to depend on much more costlier and more polluting alternative fuels.

“Thus the unmet gas demand in India is probably much higher than what is reported,” he said, adding India, “at present has only one major cross country pipeline in the form of Hizira-Bijaipur-Jagdishpur pipeline and there is estimated to be considerable unmet demand even in the states serviced by this pipeline”.

With the increased availability of gas, the country needs to gear up quickly to meet the increased requirement of cross country as well as regional and local downstream gas distribution networks, he said. — PTI


Related Links:

Climate Change Worsens Poverty in India

Climate Change Impact on Karachi, South Asian Megacities

Water Scarcity in Pakistan

Syeda Hamida of Indian Planning Commission Says India Worse Than Pakistan and Bangladesh

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Tom Friedman of NY Times on sustainable earth:

(Paul) Gilding cites the work of the Global Footprint Network, an alliance of scientists, which calculates how many “planet Earths” we need to sustain our current growth rates. G.F.N. measures how much land and water area we need to produce the resources we consume and absorb our waste, using prevailing technology. On the whole, says G.F.N., we are currently growing at a rate that is using up the Earth’s resources far faster than they can be sustainably replenished, so we are eating into the future. Right now, global growth is using about 1.5 Earths. “Having only one planet makes this a rather significant problem,” says Gilding.

This is not science fiction. This is what happens when our system of growth and the system of nature hit the wall at once. While in Yemen last year, I saw a tanker truck delivering water in the capital, Sana. Why? Because Sana could be the first big city in the world to run out of water, within a decade. That is what happens when one generation in one country lives at 150 percent of sustainable capacity.

“If you cut down more trees than you grow, you run out of trees,” writes Gilding. “If you put additional nitrogen into a water system, you change the type and quantity of life that water can support. If you thicken the Earth’s CO2 blanket, the Earth gets warmer. If you do all these and many more things at once, you change the way the whole system of planet Earth behaves, with social, economic, and life support impacts. This is not speculation; this is high school science.”

It is also current affairs. “In China’s thousands of years of civilization, the conflict between humankind and nature has never been as serious as it is today,” China’s environment minister, Zhou Shengxian, said recently. “The depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the worsening ecological environment have become bottlenecks and grave impediments to the nation’s economic and social development.” What China’s minister is telling us, says Gilding, is that “the Earth is full. We are now using so many resources and putting out so much waste into the Earth that we have reached some kind of limit, given current technologies. The economy is going to have to get smaller in terms of physical impact.”
But Gilding is actually an eco-optimist. As the impact of the imminent Great Disruption hits us, he says, “our response will be proportionally dramatic, mobilizing as we do in war. We will change at a scale and speed we can barely imagine today, completely transforming our economy, including our energy and transport industries, in just a few short decades.”

We will realize, he predicts, that the consumer-driven growth model is broken and we have to move to a more happiness-driven growth model, based on people working less and owning less. “How many people,” Gilding asks, “lie on their death bed and say, ‘I wish I had worked harder or built more shareholder value,’ and how many say, ‘I wish I had gone to more ballgames, read more books to my kids, taken more walks?’ To do that, you need a growth model based on giving people more time to enjoy life, but with less stuff.”

Sounds utopian? Gilding insists he is a realist.

“We are heading for a crisis-driven choice,” he says. “We either allow collapse to overtake us or develop a new sustainable economic model. We will choose the latter. We may be slow, but we’re not stupid.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an alJazeera report on potential for water wars:

After droughts ravaged his parents' farmland, Sixteen-year-old Hassain and his two-year-old sister Sareye became some of the newest refugees forced from home by water scarcity.

"There was nothing to harvest," Hassain said through an interpreter during an interview at a refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya which is housing some 160,000 Somalis displaced by a lack of water. "There had been no rain in my village for two years. We used to have crops."

As global warming alters weather patterns, and the number of people lacking access to water rises, millions, if not billions, of others are expected to face a similar fate as water shortages become more frequent.

Presently, Hassain is one of about 1.2 billion people living in areas of physical water scarcity, although the majority of cases are nowhere near as dire. By 2030, 47 per cent of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Environmental Outlook to 2030 report.

Some analysts worry that wars of the future will be fought over blue gold, as thirsty people, opportunistic politicians and powerful corporations battle for dwindling resources.

Dangerous warnings

Governments and military planners around the world are aware of the impending problem; with the US senate issuing reports with names like Avoiding Water Wars: Water Scarcity and Central Asia’s growing Importance for Stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

With rapid population growth, and increased industrial demand, water withdrawls have tripled over the last 50 years, according to UN figures."The war was also a reason why we left," Hassain said. "There was a lot of fighting near my village."

"Water scarcity is an issue exacerbated by demographic pressures, climate change and pollution," said Ignacio Saiz, director of Centre for Economic and Social Rights, a social justice group. "The world's water supplies should guarantee every member of the population to cover their personal and domestic needs."

"Fundamentally, these are issues of poverty and inequality, man-made problems," he told Al Jazeera.
Some experts believe the only documented case of a "water war" happened about 4,500 years ago, when the city-states of Lagash and Umma went to war in the Tigris-Euphrates basin.

But Adel Darwish, a journalist and co-author of Water Wars: Coming Conflicts in the Middle East, says modern history has already seen at least two water wars.

"I have [former Israeli prime minister] Ariel Sharon speaking on record saying the reason for going to war [against Arab armies] in 1967 was for water," Darwish told Al Jazeera.

Some analysts believe Israel continues to occupy the Golan heights, seized from Syria in 1967, due to issues of water control, while others think the occupation is about maintaining high ground in case of future conflicts.

Senegal and Mauritania also fought a war starting in 1989 over grazing rights on the River Senegal. And Syria and Iraq have fought minor skirmishes over the Euphrates River.



Riaz Haq said...

DG Geological Survey says list of cities under threat has been handed over to respective district governments, according to The Express Tribune:

ISLAMABAD: The Director General of Pakistan Geological Survey, Dr Imran Ahmed Khan says an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.5 or higher might hit Pakistan this year, Express News reported on Monday.

Dr Khan, who was briefing the Standing Committee on Petroleum, said major cities of Pakistan were located on the fault line, which also crosses the centre of Margalla Hills.

The director general said the list of cities under threat has been handed over to the respective district governments.

He added that the government had been informed of the Attabad landslide four months before the incident happened.

He further that that climatic change is melting glaciers at a faster rate.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on Pakistan climate change policy:

Disaster-prone Pakistan has launched its first ever national policy on climate change, detailing how it plans to tackle the challenges posed by global warming, mitigate its risks and adapt key sectors of the country's economy to cope with its consequences.

Pakistan is highly vulnerable to weather-related disasters such as cyclones, droughts, floods, landslides and avalanches. Devastating floods in 2010 disrupted the lives of 20 million people – many more than the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami – and cost $10 billion.

The climate change policy, developed with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), recommends some 120 steps the country could take to slow down the impact of global warming, as well as adapt sectors such as energy, transport and agriculture.

Measures include flood forecasting warning systems, local rainwater harvesting, developing new varieties of resilient crops, promoting renewable energy sources and more efficient public transport.

"The National Climate Change policy takes into account risks and vulnerabilities of various development sectors with specific emphasis on water, food, energy and national security issues," said Rana Mohammad Farooq Saeed Khan, Minister for Climate Change at the launch of the policy is Islamabad on Tuesday.

But the policy needs a concrete action plan to back it up, with details, budgets and timelines first, some newspaper commentators said, adding that only then could there be a chance of effective implementation.

Questions have also arisen about where the money to fund implementation will come from and whether Pakistan's provinces have the capacity and expertise to put it in place.

Last year, a major U.N. report said the world needed to prepare better to deal with extreme weather and rising seas caused by climate change, in order to save lives and limit deepening economic losses.
UNDP's Pakistan Director Marc-André Franche said addressing changing weather patterns would help the country's economic development.

"Pakistan is among the most vulnerable countries facing climate risks and mechanisms need to be devised for greener, more resilient options for growth and sustainable development, said Franche at the launch.

"I hope the policy will help key stakeholders in identifying capacities and skills for the successful implementation of the policy," he added.



Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a World Bank report titled "Turn Down the Heat" released today:

The projected increase in the seasonality of precipitation is associated with an increase in the number of dry days, leading to droughts that are amplified by continued warming, with adverse consequences for human lives. Droughts are
expected to pose an increasing risk in parts of the region.
Although drought projections are made difficult by uncertain
precipitation projections and differing drought indicators, some
regions emerge to be at particularly high risk. These include north-western India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Over southern India, increasing wetness is projected with broad agreement
between climate models.


Here's more from Daily Times:

The report has been prepared for the WB by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics and peer reviewed by 25 scientists worldwide.

The report said that unless action is taken now to limit carbon release in the atmosphere, South Asia would suffer more extreme droughts and floods, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and declines in food production.

“Events like the devastating Pakistan floods of 2010, which affected more than 20 million people, could become common place,” the report said.

A warming climate will contribute to slowing the reduction in poverty, while the lives of everyone in the region will be altered by climate change, the impacts of progressive global warming will fall hardest on the poor.

Low crop yields and associated income loss from agriculture will continue the trend toward migration from rural to urban centers. In cities, the poor will suffer with temperatures magnified by the so-called ‘heat island effect’ of the built environments.

Safe drinking water will become increasingly constrained and alternatives, especially during and after flooding, are likely to contribute to greater water-borne diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea.

The report cited Bangladesh, already threatened by frequent floods and extreme weather, as just one of more ‘potential impact hotspots’ threatened by extreme river floods, more intense tropical cyclones, rising sea levels and very high temperatures.

India’s two largest coastal cities, Kolkata and Mumbai, face a similar fate.

With South Asia close to the equator, the sub-continent would see much higher rises in sea levels than higher latitudes, with the Maldives confronting the biggest increases of between 100-115 centimeters. Pakistan would suffer the most extreme increases in heat. .


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News story on planting of mangroves near Karachi:

Pakistan has reclaimed the world record of planting the maximum number of mangroves in a day.The Sindh Forest Department on Saturday regained its position in the Guinness Book of World Records by outpacing India.

For 14 hours, 300 social workers, volunteers and forest department employees worked ceaselessly save for a three-hour break during the high tide to planted approximately 750,000 mangrove saplings in Kharo Chan – an island village off the Keti Bandar coast. Their effort broke the record set by India in 2010 for planting 611,000 saplings in a day.

“The purpose is to highlight the importance of the mangroves in the Indus delta, its biodiversity and most of all, the welfare of the communities dependent on them for their livelihood in the precious but severely threatened ecosystem,” said Riaz Ahmed Wagan, the chief conservator of forests in Sindh.

The effort was financed by the Asian Development Bank under the Sindh Coastal Communities Development Project while the International Union for Conservation of Nature was the media facilitator for the Guinness Book of World Records.

Mangrove swamps are found in tropical and subtropical tidal areas, include estuaries and marine shorelines. The forests play an important role in protecting the coastal lines from erosion, storms, hurricanes and tsunamis.

Mangroves are an essential component of the coastal ecosystem as they help shrimps and fish to procreate and also keep the soil from eroding into the sea. The unique ecosystem in the intricate mesh of mangrove roots plays host to a number of organisms, including algae, barnacles, oysters and sponges, which all require a hard surface for anchoring as they filter feed.

Several commercially important species of fish and crustaceans breed in these forests. Shrimps and mud lobsters use the muddy bottoms as their home. But despite restoration efforts, approximately 35 percent of mangrove forests have been cleared in the past several decades.

Grassroots efforts to save mangrove forests from depletion are becoming popular across the world as their benefits become more widely known. In some countries, mangrove reforestation and mangrove restoration are under way.

Mexico became the first country to hold the world record by planting 348,493 mangrove saplings in a day followed by India with 447,874 trees. In 2009, the Sindh forest department set the world record by planting 541,176 mangroves in a single day but the Indians again broke the record a year later.


Anonymous said...

KARACHI, Pakistan, April 2 (UPI Next) -- The intrusion of the Arabian Sea into the mouth of the Indus River on Pakistan's southern coast is eroding land, forcing whole villages to relocate inland, and threatening fishing livelihoods, residents and environmental experts say.

As sea levels rise globally, low-lying coastal areas become vulnerable to the incoming saltwater.

The sea’s intrusion into the once-thriving Indus Delta in the coastal Thatta district occurs mainly because the Indus River does not carry enough water below the Kotri Barrage, a major dam 190 miles north of the coast, to hold back the saltwater from the river and its network of creeks and mudflats. The seawater intrusion turns fields and underground drinking water saline, makes land waterlogged and reduces fish catch.

In the early 20th century, the area was famous for production and export of red rice and fish. For centuries earlier, it was a center of trade and scholarship, partly due to the old port at the seafront town of Keti Bunder. Now the survival of this part of the dying delta region is threatened.

Local lawmaker Humera Alwani of the opposition Pakistan People's Party says that at the current rate of erosion, the 6,700-square-mile district of Thatta, with its population of 1.1 million, could be gone by 2025.

The effects and threats of the inflow and erosion are pronounced in Keti Bunder.

Mohammad Saleem, a lifelong Keti Bunder resident, watches daily as the sea erodes the earthen dike, near his wooden house.

Ten years ago, a few miles separated his house from the muddy waterline. Now, he points to a spot seemingly far out to sea where his and his neighbors’ homes used to be before encroaching seawater forced them out.

"We had to move here and set up our village all over again because the sea had entered our village over there," he said.

Houses are set on posts 2 feet off the ground.

Villagers will have ample time to leave if the sea makes its way to their village again after eating through the dike.

The water flowing near Saleem's home used to be drinkable -- from the Indus River -- but now it is all saline. He says the shoreline used to be a few miles farther out, meaning that river water used to surround the area until its flow was reduced, allowing seawater in.

The PPP's Alwani has predicted that if the sea level rise and seawater intrusion continue at the current pace, Thatta and a neighboring district, Badin, will be gone by 2025.

"Around 80 acres of land have been eroded by the sea in Thatta district alone. There used to be seven ports here but all of them were destroyed by the encroaching sea," Alwani, a member of the Sindh assembly, told UPI Next.

Over the past 30 years, the Arabian Sea has devoured about 1.2 million acres (1,875 square miles) of land from the coasts of both districts, says Abdul Majeed Nizamani, chairman of the Sindh Growers' Board, which represents farmers, landlords, peasants and others involved in agriculture.

"The Sindh Development Review 2008-2009,” a provincial Planning and Development Department report, cites a study estimating Keti Bunder mudflat erosion at 66 feet per year with the rate in one of the four major creeks near the town was as high as 5,500 feet per year.

Though no official records exist, 34 of the sub-district's 42 settlements have disappeared under the sea, said Zahid Jalbani, a program manager at Strengthening Participatory Organization, which specializes in development advocacy.

The intrusion accelerated after a dam was built at the town of Kotri in 1955 to divert fresh water for irrigation and flood control, Jalbani said.

"The flow of freshwater in the Indus Delta is too low to push the seawater back and sustain the areas in and around it," he told UPI Next.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2014/04/02/Villagers-in-Pakistan-face-threat-from-rising-seawater/31374023587237/

Riaz Haq said...

Seas Gobble Land So Pakistan's Coastal Villagers Retreat

KETI BUNDER, Pakistan (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - For fisherman Sammar Dablo, it was as if "the seawater stole our homes" when land erosion forced his village to relocate further inland on Pakistan's south coast.

The people of the fan-shaped Indus Delta, where the Indus River meets the Arabian Sea, are among the poorest of the poor, mostly illiterate and living in wooden shacks on the mud flats.

As seawater has washed into the delta, destroying thousands of hectares of fertile land and contaminating underground water channels, they survive by fishing in the saltwater creeks where dolphins are a common sight.

Dablo’s family and 41 other households migrated three years ago to Phirt village in Keti Bunder Union Council, some 2 km from their old village on a mud flat at the delta's mouth.

"Here we are on higher land and located further inland so the waves and the winds are not as strong - we had no choice but to move as our homes were being submerged," Dablo explained.


The delta area is ranked among the world’s 40 most biologically-rich eco-regions. Since 2011, WWF-Pakistan has promoted rehabilitation of its degraded mangrove forests, aiming to minimise sea encroachment.

Pakistan was once considered one of the world’s most important mangrove countries. But the forests deteriorated under pressure from seawater intrusion, lack of fresh water in the Indus Delta, cutting of trees for fuel and camel grazing.

WWF-Pakistan has provided mangrove seeds and saplings to local communities to plant. Satellite images show mangrove forest cover is now increasing thanks to this activity.

In the last 10 years, awareness of the problem has grown immensely, according to WWF-Pakistan.

One of the first things Dablo did after building his new home was to plant mangroves around it to “stop the soil erosion and protect the shore”.

Besides providing a buffer against floods and coastal erosion, mangroves offer a habitat for fish, oysters, shrimps and crabs. The villagers can benefit by selling the crustaceans in the mega-city of Karachi, some three hours’ drive away.


Riaz Haq said...

Apart from damaging public health and crop cultivation, heavy fog mainly created by hazardous emissions from the coal-based Indian steel mills are causing a loss of $2 billion annually to Pakistan’s aviation industry.

The Sindh coast doesn’t face the threat of complete drowning from the intruding sea by 2060 as was recently reported in the press, but there are all indications that Pakistan would be seriously impacted by changes in weather conditions, which would become more intense in the coming years. Building dams could help Pakistan prevent flooding.

These were some important points highlighted by deputy director general of the meteorological department Dr Ghulam Rasool at a press briefing held on Saturday. It was arranged by Green Media Initiative in collaboration with the Karachi Press Club.

Speaking to journalists, Dr Rasool said that though Pakistan’s case was briefly discussed in last year’s report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), scientists in the country had detailed information on climate change that would impact the country in the coming years.

“Pakistan ranks 10th among countries that would suffer the most from climate change. Every aspect of the phenomenon would impact us. Our coasts are now more vulnerable to tropical cyclones as their intensity would increase in the Arabian Sea and reduce in the Bay of Bengal,” he said, adding that sea level rise would contribute to sea intrusion.

According to Dr Rasool, of the total 8,123 glaciers in Pakistan, only 8,000 are advancing while the rest are reducing. The Siachen Glacier is the fastest melting glacier in the world. The deployment of armed forces of both Pakistan and India in that region is also contributing to decline in the ice mass.

“The change in monsoon pattern would aggravate flooding in rivers. Although intense monsoon would be experienced in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, flooding would occur in Sindh and Balochistan that might be experiencing a dry spell at that time,” he said.

Late, early or prolonged onset of monsoon, he said, would badly impact cultivation.

“Tarbela and Mangla are our only water reservoirs. Their water storage capacity has already reduced by 35pc due to silt deposits,” he said.

He favoured smaller dams but said that they couldn’t work in heavy rain scenarios. “It is up to us how we make use of that water. Either we let it flood and devastate our land and people, or conserve it.”

He rejected press reports on the submergence of Karachi, Thatta and Badin by 2060 and said there was no scientific basis for that statement. “But, sea level rise would contribute to sea intrusion and affect land agricultural productivity.”

On Karachi, he said that the city had expanded out of proportion and there was a need that the government banned its further expansion and established another city to house more people.

Trans-boundary pollution, he told the audience, was spreading. “It’s the wind blowing from the east to the west that brings pollutants to Pakistan and then these coal emissions spread to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and (now) Sukkur,” he said.

The hazardous emissions, he said, were affecting the aviation industry, public health and crop cultivation.

“The fog gets intense during January and December and is broken only with a rain spell. The cloud cover prevents plants to carry out photosynthesis,” he said.


Riaz Haq said...

ISLAMABAD: The Senate's Standing Committee on Science and Technology issued a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif earlier this week, expressing fears of the seriousness of sea intrusion along the coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan which can result in the sinking of Badin and Thatta in a period of 30 years, followed by Karachi.

The letter stressed that if the matter was not treated urgently, Karachi could sink come 2060.

It also demanded of the Ministry of Water and Power, Navy, National Institute of Oceanography and other national institutions to carry out research studies to prevent such a situation from arising.


The letter recommends that the issue should be forwarded to the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

It also recommends the federal government allocate 50 per cent funds to Sindh for the province to adopt safety measures in Zulfiqarabad.

It says that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) should take necessary steps to prevent possible damage to high-risk areas in future.

It further suggests that the concerned authorities strictly follow the Water Apportionment Accord, 1991, of the Indus River System among the Provinces of Pakistan.