As 700 Die in Pakistan from Extreme Heat, Pakistanis Deny Climate Change

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Pakistan is in the midst of an extreme heat wave with highs around 110 degrees F., which has killed 700 persons in the past 3 days. Three weeks ago it was India’s turn, when extreme heat killed 1200 in the country’s south.

Despite the severe dangers to Pakistan posed by climate change, opinion polls show that only about a quarter of Pakistanis view the issue as a powerful threat. In contrast, over 80 percent of South Koreans are afraid of climate change.

South Asia is already unbearably hot in the summer. I’ve lived there in May and June, which are the worst, before the monsoon rains come. The heat is unbearable, but many Pakistanis have no choice but to bear it. Pakistan’s electricity capacity is inadequate and there are frequent electricity outages, which they call “load shedding” (our “brownouts”). Hot weather and drought hurt electricity production, because about half the country’s electricity is generated by hydro, i.e. dams. When the water levels decline, not as much electricity is made.

Average temperatures are set to go up by at least 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit because of the carbon dioxide we have already spilled into the atmosphere by burning petroleum, coal and natural gas. That will put Pakistan’s temperatures up to more like 114. It will go on up from there if we don’t find ways to stop emitting so much CO2.

It gets worse. Climate change has already produced massive flooding in each of the past 5 years. It appears to be pushing the jet stream north, drawing the monsoon rains up north.

Pakistani agriculture is also at risk. It depends on the Indus Valley river for irrigation .., the head waters of which are created by melting glaciers in the Himalayas. The glaciers are now melting. Ultimately, Pakistan itself could be largely a desert, unable to support the teeming millions it now does. Well before then, the crops it traditionally depends on may cease growing because of the extreme heat.

Rising seas threaten lower Sindh with more salinization of the soil.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Overseas development Institute: ” Ali Tauqeer Sheikh – Climate change & the post 2015 development framework”

7 Responses

  1. The current population of Pakistan, today’s people, whose average/median age (guessing) may be around 20, generally did not consciously make the psychological choices, the philosophical/scientific/religious choices, and the political choices that helped frame and institutionalize the current economic system that is (just barely) supporting their lives and livelihoods, their sufferings and their joys.

    Yet at every moment, their borrowings and creations of ideas of how they value economic goods and services, and their thoughts and actions in producing /consuming the goods and services they most desire, are creating their economic systems of the future — which will play a large part in determining whether Pakistani, and world, civilization literally suffocates in its own waste products, or is able to create sustainable inputs for sustainable forms of future Pakistani/world human society.

  2. China’s 8% growth rate takes toll on soil, air, water and human health in China with spill over to the environment of the world.

    The article begins with dumping toxic waste on farm land. Last month on a trip to Morocco saw farming that had been going on for thousands of years. They take care of soil and proper use of soil could play a very important role in climate change. China by contrast is taking more and more soil out of agriculture because of dumping toxic waste like chemicals from production of solar cells.

    I had no idea that things were this bad in China.

    Naomi Klein in her incredible book “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate” describes the changes that must be made to slow down climate change. Things that have been taken to be good, like growth and development, have to be understood as fueling destruction.

    Reading the article on China, I thought about what effect this would have on the world. Then these sentences came up in the middle of a paragraph

    Profit-hungry loggers cut down most of what was left of China’s forests, recklessly denuding mountains and precipitating such extensive flooding and loss of life in 2009 that the government banned domestic logging. Chinese loggers then turned to plundering Siberia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and even New Guinea and parts of Africa

    China is going to implode. Lets hope that they don’t take too much of the world with them. And lets also hope that they don’t follow history and start a war in order to keep the people at home in line with the rulers.

    The article

    “China’s Communist-Capitalist Ecological Apocalypse”

    link to

  3. During the 60’s no one had fans or air conditioners in Quetta. It was a perfect hill station. Such a nice weather.

    During the 80’s, I was surprised to see fans & air conditioners running in Quetta.

    What happened to Quetta of my childhood? Besides many other things, even weather has gone in the memory books.

  4. Temperatures had had been higher many times in some cities of Pakistan previously. The issue is more brutal politics. The people in authority in Karachi have no say at the Provincial and Federal level; the people having authority in the rest of the same province are from another party who also are at the helm of affairs but have no political presentation in Karachi. Same is the case with the party who is in the central government but has no representation in Karachi. So nobody is interested in “others’ ” problems, and the common people have no problem in dying but they will still vote for the same party who has always been trapped in political conflicts and national and international controversaries.

  5. Oh come off it Juan, give it a rest. I know you are a real global warming fan, but places like Pakistan and India have know very high temperatures for centuries. I can tell you, over here in England we are still waiting for the start of summer, even though its mid June.

  6. Mr Cole: Google Earth has an add on you can use to extract the regional temperature anomaly for Karachi/southern Pakistan. Once you load the data you can find your way to seasonal anomaly plots over the last 50 plus years. The plots will document the regional temperature increases, which have been as high as 0.2 to 0.3 degrees C. However, these temperature increases may not reflect Karachi’s heat island effect. The temperature in large cities with huge populations experiences a high temperature rise which needs to be included in the impact estimates.

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