A few ways to combat climate change in Pakistan – Prism

It is time to avoid passivity and actively participate in the defense of the climate.

Students in the climatic march in Karachi. – Photo by Kamran Nafees

Coping with the news about climate change can be exhausting, especially when each subsequent story seems to be worse than the last.

We can choose to block the apocalyptic news, but let's not forget that scientists have given us an adjusted deadline of about 11 years to literally save the planet and ourselves.

Pakistan has been continuously ranked among the countries most affected by climate change. Our people in different parts of the country are already being adversely affected by climate impacts, which include flash floods due to glacial thaw, rising heat waves, water shortages, sea level rise, food shortages and displacement. The worst part is that these impacts will only get worse.

In such a scenario, we may want to help, but we may not know where to start. Here, I suggest some advice for the government and for the people, based on my travels through Pakistan in search of climate stories.

  • Undertake urgent reforestation and afforestation programs on the slopes of the mountains. The northern areas have suffered severe deforestation due to lack of access to electricity and natural gas. The tsunami campaign of billions of trees is a good start, but it must be extended in the long term. Communities and the general public must also participate in mass planting campaigns throughout the country.

  • Build dams in Thar to store rainwater. Let me also highlight here how important the local consultation is. During our trips, we met a dam in Nagarparkar that was used as a cricket ground because the government did not consult people and did not take into account their knowledge of where to build it better. Sometimes, the solution is as simple as asking people. They live there and have a pretty good idea of ​​what solutions would work in their context.

  • Design and implement a waste management strategy for mountainous areas. Since mountain communities have nowhere to dispose of their wastes, they end up throwing them into rivers, burning them outdoors (which contributes to the deposition of black carbon in glaciers and accelerates their melting) or burying them underground (which resurface in the event of a natural disaster and adds to the existing risks). Appropriate waste disposal systems and awareness (especially for tourists) can help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and disaster risk.

  • Ban diesel vehicles in the mountains. An increasing number of tourists visiting the northern scenic mountains choose to use diesel (the most inefficient fuel) in their four-wheelers. The particulate material emitted by the incomplete burning of fuels at such high altitudes directly contributes to the rapid melting of glaciers, thereby accelerating climate change and worsening people's health.

  • Switch to renewable energy sources. We have enormous potential for solar energy in Thar and hydroelectric power in the north that can provide clean, cost-effective and uninterrupted energy.

  • Recognize that Pakistan faces various climate challenges in different geographic and cultural contexts. For example, the climatic impacts in Chitral will be very different from the impacts that Sindh faces. Therefore, it is necessary to devise solutions taking into account context and diversity.

  • Implement a proactive approach instead of a reactionary one. Usually, we react to a disaster once it has happened, instead of preparing in advance. The proactive approach to preparation and forecasting will save a lot of time, money and lives.

  • Make climate change a priority in the political and development agenda. Climate change will influence all areas of human and economic development and must be taken into account at all levels.

These efforts are urgently required, but it is also important to recognize that the responsibility for change does not lie entirely with the government. We, as conscious citizens, must demand action on these issues and work closely with governmental and non-governmental institutions to ensure that these measures are implemented. It is time to avoid passivity and actively participate in the defense of the climate.

What can you do?

We, each in our own capacity and community, have the power to take climate measures. Here are some initial ideas:

  • Just talk about climate change. We do not change what we never discussed. You can form local climate discussion groups to start the conversation, communicate, help and support vulnerable people and take collective action.

  • We need activism, not pessimism. It takes courage to focus on a positive and action-oriented approach. Work or volunteer with a local organization that works on climate change issues.

  • Reconsider stacking your plates with excess food the next time you go to a wedding or party. Currently, 40{7be40b84a6a43fc4fae13304fce9a2695859798abfc41afd127b9f8b21c5f9c5} of food in Pakistan is wasted, while 43{7be40b84a6a43fc4fae13304fce9a2695859798abfc41afd127b9f8b21c5f9c5} of our population is considered food insecure. What most people don't realize is that food waste is also a big contributor to climate change. Methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) is emitted from the breakdown of food in landfills. You can also help by donating excess food to a charity or initiatives such as the Robinhood Army and ‘Rizq that help redistribute it to those in need.

  • Reiterating a cliché here, but it is important: save energy. In a country like ours, where the electricity supply is intermittent and already a luxury, we must be very attentive and turn off the lights and appliances when they are not in use. This can be as simple as disconnecting your charger when your phone / laptop is fully charged. The plugged in devices still consume phantom energy and increase your bill and greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Write and share your ideas and work. Every climatic story (whether of suffering or success) is important. It gives other people permission to share theirs.

The list of recommendations shared here is not complete in any way; It only serves as a reminder that climate action can be initiated at different scales. Taking action can also help with ecological anxiety (a new type of psychological condition in which you feel extremely concerned about the worsening of the state of our planet and the weather).

Feeling anxious about the environmental crisis may not be a bad thing in small doses, if it motivates you to avoid the catastrophic future. Remember that a series of small steps implemented by many leads to great impact and change. At this point, we need everyone to do their part to face a problem as complex and imminent as climate change.

Are you working on climate change? Share stories with us at [email protected]

Source: https://www.dawn.com/news/1511555/a-few-ways-to-combat-climate-change-in-pakistan


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