Mounting threats from climate change
By: Ahmad Fraz Khan
year 2014 was the hottest ever since humans started
monitoring weather conditions in the year 1880, according to
four international agencies monitoring global temperature
These four agencies are:
two US (NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration), one Japanese (Japan Meteorological Agency)
and Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
The year has surpassed all
previous scorchers — 1998, 2005, and 2010. More worryingly,
except for 1998, as per NASA’s claim, all 10 hottest years
recorded in human history came in the first 14 years of the
Fortunately, the major rise
in temperature was occasional, and soil, by and large,
escaped the impact. However, it was fourth hottest year for
the land as well.
For scientists, another
concern was the absence of El Niño (which usually
accelerates the already up-trend in global average
temperature) in 2014.
This year (2015), El Niño is
part of meteorological forecast, which may improve the heat
record further this year.
The report has not come in a
vacuum for Pakistan.
Its own official agencies
have also been studying the trend (variations in temperature
and frequency and severity of weather-related events) and
have drawn almost similar conclusion that organisations
around the world are warning of.
Two years ago, the Federal
Ministry for Environment, in its report — vulnerability to
climate change threats — identified a series of such
pressures that farming in Pakistan would face due to
changing weather patterns. It identified nine areas, where
they would impact human life in the country.
Out of the nine areas, where, according to report, threat
perception was increasing, six were directly related to
They included considerable
rise in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events
(droughts, floods, un-timely and heavy rains);
Recession of glaciers due to
global warming and carbon soot deposits from trans-boundary
Increased silt in dams caused
by frequent, flash and intense floods;
resulting in enhanced heat- and water-stressed conditions,
particularly in arid and semi-arid regions;
Intrusion of saline water in
the Indus delta, threatening coastal agriculture and
mangroves and tension between upper and lower riparian in
water stress periods.
These were on the top of
carbonaceous filth that, it warned, has started mixing into
Indus water, pouring in from glaciers, and would have
hazardous consequences for life of every kind in the water
The activity was noted on all
three mountain ranges — the Hindukush, the Karakoram and the
Himalaya — that feed Pakistani rivers.
According to researchers, these extreme weather events could
cause a direct loss of two to 30pc in agricultural yields —
depending on the severity of the event in a particular year
— and it would be especially true for cereals (wheat,rice &
Given Pakistan’s increasing
population at almost unknown rate, the country needs an
annual increase of 5-10pc in those cereals for its own food
security, leave alone exploring exports potential.
This would be a herculean
task, given Pakistan’s archaic technological and farming
In the last ten years, the
frequency of flash floods, extreme rains, severe droughts,
shifting of monsoon season, which gives Pakistan 80pc of its
irrigation water and matures water-loving crops like rice,
is increasing and threatening crops like never before.
All the climatic changes documented by different federal,
provincial and academic agencies need to form basis of
planning for agriculture for the next few decades.
The agriculture pattern and
practices, as we know them for the last few millenniums, are
bound to undergo changes because of weather factors.
The world is trying to adjust to these new realities by
measuring the rate of change, and then developing policy and
technological responses to those changes. Pakistan cannot be
The scientists insist that
rice is already suffering in quality and quantity due to
temperature variations, along with other factors.