Climate Change Signatures in South Asia
By Ali R Kalair, S. Mehdi, N. Khan, SUT 2/9/22
Sep 2, 2022 - 10:37:42 AM
Climate change occurs through variations in water and temperature. Sea level rise, epochal floods, melting glaciers, lake bursts, droughts and heat waves are signs of climate change. The triple digit heatwaves and triple dip La Nina rave events now happening in 21st century.
Water cycle and greenhouse effect drive the big wheel of nature. Persons now in 60s and 70s has seen three major changes in climate during 1960-70s, 1990-00s and 2010-20s in South Asia. Climate change chorales in other areas are reported in literature [Ren 2021]. First climate change occurred at start of 1970s, second at end of 1990s and third in 2010s. Natural ecosystems systems start worsening long before the climate change becomes clearly visible.
Phase 1: 1960s -1980s
There used to be 1cm thick ice on lakes and ponds waters in rural areas in 1960s which stopped forming in 1970s due to increase in global average temperature. There used to be water fog which changed into brown smog in Lahore in 1980s. Gen-X people have seen this large scale change from 1960s to 1980s. Public switched from bicycles to motor bikes and occupied water collection ponds outside villages during land consolidation. The water surfaces stopped freezing at night in 1970s. Overseas workers earned money and transformed mud homes into concrete structures in 1980-90s. Urbanization, widespread plastic bags and metaled road infrastructures started affecting ecosystem.
Phase 2: 1990s -2000s
Oak and rosewood trees started drying in 1990s amid drought and zillions of trees along roads and canals evaporated with die-back disease from 1996 to 2004. Young rosewood plants started recovering die-back attack from 2004 to 2005. We noted this change in our agriculture farm in Punjab, Pakistan. Urban migrations, electrification and natural gas pipelines led to growth in agriculture sector with pollutants and GHG emissions. Industrial boom, thermal IPPs, cement plants, fertilizer factories and fire kilns emerged kick starting local warming in Pakistan. Rising energy demand, internet and mobiles which increased inflation, crime rate and unemployment.
Phase 3: 2010s-2020s
Temperatures started increasing at end of 1990s which led to accelerated water cycle with delay of one decade. First flash flood occurred in KPK in 2010 and second in Aug 2022 which swayed away people, bridges, buildings and everything else on its way. Public started switching to cars, air conditioners and selling lands. Deforestation, housing societies and widespread traffic increased air pollution and GHG emissions. Billion trees projects slowed down water but torrential rains and flash floods swayed away most of threes among mountain valleys. We must plant trees on mountain slopes. All 60s plus people have witnessed the environment transforming from green to red. There used to hot summers and cold winters five decades ago but there were no long duration frequent heat waves in South Asia. Old, adult and young feel the rising heat.
We started overshooting earth’s annual ecological budget four decades ago. We consumed earth’s annual ecological in first 8 months in 2014 and in first 7 months in 2022. Human demands have exceeded earth’s annual biological regeneration capacity. Bio-capacity in terms of global hectares/person declined from 3.2 in 1960 to 1.55 in 2022, and ecological footprint per person increased from 2.3 to 2.8 in the same period due to rise in carbon footprint from 1 to 1.65 hectares/person. We need 1.7 earths to meet our ecological demands is impossible at the moment. Our position is like a crowd of 17 persons in a room which can accommodate optimally 10 persons. Nature responds to planetary excursions by fires, floods, wind storms and extreme weather events to seek a new equilibrium.
Climate change occurs through changes in water and temperature. Fossil fuels consumptions increase carbon emissions which heat the planet. Global warming accelerates water cycle which leads to more clouds and flash floods. We heat the planet to cool homes. Every cent spent on any type of good consumes the planet. Capitalism wants more workers, more smart machines and more automated plants to meet demand of snowballing population. Economic system is based on infinite economic expansions but nature has limited annual regeneration capacity. Our ecological budget will finish in middle of May or maximum in start of June in 2050. It means we will need more than two earths to meet our demands in 2050 when the number of people would have increased to 10 billion persons. World needs to achieve UN SDG-17 goals by 2030 to ensure carbon neutrality by 2050. Developed nations have made G-7 and G-20 groups to ponder how to plunder the planet legally.
Severity of crises varies according to the potential in social and natural potentials. We lost 90,000 people in terror war due to extreme religious potential which otherwise could have been harnessed for more appropriate use. We have 50 GW (150 MAF) water and 100 GW solar energies which turn into floods and heatwave calamities in summer. Farmers have huge crops biomass potentials which turns into smog storm when they burn paddy stubbles in winter months. Our 60% population consists of youth and we do not benefit from this great human capital which turns into rallies to ruin infrastructures. Floods ruined voters but leaders survived. We have very tainted past in handling flood relief grants so local and global donors fear from misuse of their funds intended to support flood victims.
We suffer from big flash floods and heatwaves by not building dams and solar parks. Solar cells convert light and heat into electricity what we do not have. We have imported LNG, oil and coal power plants which 51% electricity compared 25% by hydro, 5% by wind and 1.6% by solar. We have 41,557 MW but have no money to buy fuels to operate them. Rise in oil, gas and coal prices in global market is forcing incumbents to increase gas, petrol and electricity prices create inflation. This is exactly opposite to peak oil theory where it was claimed “you might have money but there will be no oil at pump”.
Recent flood has ruined crops, fruits and vegetables which doubled grocery prices on 27 Aug 2022. Food and fruits are likely to triple in coming days. Media cries voters are sinking in floods and leaders are making fake cases against one another in provincial and federal capitals. Voters are cursing leaders and saying the natural catastrophes are result of their sins. Media asks leader to talk flood relief but they run to blame each other. Climate change has several phases and forms but fire and water do not let escape. A recent study claims the heat waves will increase 3 to 5 times by 2100 [Miller 2022]. Economic impact of climate change driven agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism, insurance, infrastructure, energy, human health, ecosystem and freshwater resources losses amount to 3.5% (2-5%) of global economy [Kojo 2022].
Downhill flood waters are mix of stones and debris. Good swimmers can’t escape as stones moving at 50 to 60 miles per hour speeds kill the victims in few minutes. Five friends were trapped at Sangai in water waves in Kohistan. They waited long for help but finally swayed away by flood waters. Floods inflict more losses in Himalaya slopes where fast flow moves stones along with waters. There is no way to prevent it the early warning systems can help evacuate people. This time 33 million affected, 498,000 in relief camps, more than 1150 died and more than 3000 injured in 2022. Monsoon was 780% above average in 2022. Pakistan emitted 0.4% of total emissions from 1959 to 2022 but facing $10 billion economic damages due to extreme weather [Reuters 2022]. Pak Army deployed 6,500 soldiers to help public and NDMA.
We have been writing on energy and climate since last 10 to 15 years, but never found shortage of proper words to describe any event. Superposition of flash floods in Kabul and Swat rivers created a water burst near Noshehra which smashed big buildings and civic infrastructures. It is very hard to put in words how gushing water thrusts swayed cars, trees and damaged homes along with it. Thanks to mobile technology which has enabled everyone to record the bolt out of blue. Please click link below to see.
NDMA has issued alert of 550,000 to 700,000 cusecs flood alert at Kalabagh and Chashma barrage from 27 to 28 Aug 2022. A 300,000 to 400,000 cusecs water flood is passing through Kabul river which along with rain waters and western rivers may reach to 700,000 to 900,000 cusecs at Guddu Barrage. Region around Tounsa and Panjnad as well as Sukkhar and Kotri barrages are already under water. Land is under water and monsoon rains are pouring more water from skies. Water table is high in Sindh so land absorbs normal rain water in months which in 150 MAF flood will take years. ANP, PPP and Baluch parties opposed the Kalabagh Dam without any genuine reason which led us to this national calamity. It is time to repent to beg pardon from flood victims and announce to build Kalabagh dam.
Federal Government has deployed Army Corps in flood affected 116/160 districts which has opened control centers in big cities and rescue centers in flood affected areas. Pak Army has developed capacities to back up health, education, judiciary, security and food supply chain systems in acute catastrophes. PMD and NDMA issue droughts, floods, earthquake, tsunami, infrastructure, landslide and heatwave alerts to warn public against natural and manmade emergencies [NDMA 2022]. Frequency, magnitude and durations of extreme events (heatwaves, droughts and floods) will increase with passage of time.
Extreme events have been occurring periodically since last one decade. Flash flood in KPK in July 2010 [Shakeel 2016], cloud burst in Neelum Valley in July 2021 [Tariq 2021], cloudburst with flash flood in Islamabad in July 2021 [Geo 2021], snowburst in Murree in January 2022 [Salman 2022] and glacial lake burst in Hunza Valley on May 2022 are a few example to quote. End of snow and start of smog is a routine matter in Punjab during winter months. Toxic smoke causes respiratory diseases. Smog exacerbated COVID-19 disease in 2021-2022. Smog is considered 5th season in India and Pakistan as New Delhi and Lahore become virtually gas chambers in winter months [Amit 2019]. Both countries have failed to prevent farmers burn crop residues by supplying alternative use.
Many of us have experience of scorching summer heat and bone freezing chill in winters but the intensity of heat and cold in certain days in summer and winter is hard to cope without air conditioners and gas heaters. It starts deep headache in summer and shivering in winter. Weather becomes intolerable when humanity falls with normal temperature or increases with rise in temperature. Experts tell how to beat the heat but there is no way to get rid of humidity which make it even more worse. A recent report shows 80% of 12000 Americans who die annually due to heat related causes are above 60.
River kunan joins Kabul river then river swat joins Kabul river near Noshehra and finally Kabul river joins Indus river at Attock. We need one dam on every river to stop slow down waters coming from mountains to plane valley. Kalabagh Dam is essential for water regulation to protect Sindh. Running rain waters in Koh Suliman Range also need some sort of storage to regulate water during monsoon. Tarbela dam is located on Indus river in which 400,000 cusec water passed in the night between 26 and 27 Aug 2022. Lot of water is coming through Kabul River which all combine at attock to go to Punjnad where area is already sinking under water. This flood reminded us to think of big water reservoirs and flow batteries.
Government suffers economic crises yet can raise money by renting land along highways, motorways and railway tracks. Many countries earn lot of revenue by growing fruit trees along the roadside lands. Pakistan receives lot of monsoon rain water in 100 days of summer and very little in rest of 265 days. Irrigation demand increases from May to September from 2000 to 5500 m3/s whereas river flow increases from 500 to 6,700 m3/s in from Jan to start of Aug every year. Power generation capacity is 250 GWh in January, 3000 GWh in June and 300 GWh in December. Badin and Mir Pur Khas in Sindh received 78 to 80 mm rain in 2022 due to south western monsoon.
Normally India releases 200,000 to 300,000 cusecs water in Ravi and Sutlej rivers during monsoon. Floods of 300,000 to 400,000 cusecs comes from Chenab and Jhelum rivers. Kubul and Indus rivers bring in 350,000 and 500,000 cusecs floods. These all waters may combine to 1200,000 cusecs at Guddu barrage which has maximum capacity of 1.2 million cubic feet per second (cusecs). Thanks to Sikandar Mirza, Ayub Khan and team of early engineers and contractors who built Guddu barrage from 1957 to 1962 keeping 1-in-1000 years’ events in mind.
We noticed deep freeze in northern hemisphere (USA) and simmering heat in southern hemisphere (Australia) in 2021. We are observing severe droughts and heatwaves in USA, Europe, Africa and China but extreme floods in South Asia. This uneven change in natural catastrophes has created chaos. People are dying of drought at one place and with floods on other places. United States faces droughts, heat waves and flash floods. USA had six 1-in-1000 years’ flash floods in 2022.
Dozens of rivers are drying in USA, Europe and China. Drought stricken rivers are exposing 2000 years old Roman ruins [Aspen 2022], Chinese ancient Buddha [Reuters 2022], and sunken European war ships [Reuters 2022]. British Thames and German Rhine never heard dried up in past. Extreme cold preserves things fresh for several thousand years. Meltdown of Norwegian glaciers revealed hides, arrows and textiles of 6000 old civilizations [Shaikh 2021]. Nature hides behind small and large scales beyond with humans can’t see or think.
Monsoon flood 2022 partially damaged headworks of two 800MW/1.2 MAF each under construction Munda (2019-2024) and Mohmand (2019-2025) dams on Swat River on 27 Aug 2022. Impact of flood will further delay completion of these two dams. Descon Company (owned by advisor PM Imran was building these dams) which were washed away before completion. Seven dams washed away in Baluchistan and few others under extreme pressure [Nation 2022, ARY 2022]. Ten dams had breached in July 2022 [Dawn 2022]. Torrential rains and dam breakages killed more than 1000 people in Pakistan [Shah 2022].
Natural calamities come and go leaving long trails of ruins and destructions. Public was already crying due to 42% inflation and nationwide floods have increased food prices overnight. Floods have washed away bridges and road infrastructures. All grocery supply chain disrupted on 27 Aug 2022. Onion and tomatoes were Rs100/kg which have surged up to Rs300/kg today. Commodity prices were raised first by currency devaluation and hike in energy prices now with disruption of supply chain system.
Pakistan already imported wheat and now may have to import vegetables too. Paralyzed economy is unable to afford import of LNG and crude now add up vegetables too. Floods have washed away crops and fruit trees already the stagnant waters are likely to unleash epidemics in flood victims [Xinhua 2022]. Climate change poses threats of floods, heatwaves and epidemics. Natural disasters may take any form as locust swarms attacked fruits and crops two years ago [Muhammad 2020].
Flood has ruined cotton fields, sugarcane farms and wheat storage warehouses. Vegetables and fruits were destroyed in cold storage buildings. Flood 2022 has left life and property losses in its wake. Natural disasters hurt human settlements by destroying building, inflicting injuries and causing food crises. NDMA has started providing food, medicines and shelters to flood affected victims in 75% of Pakistan. Military, civilian and public welfare organizations are doing the best but magnitude of disaster too great. By 27 Aug 2022 more than 982 had died and 1,456 wounded at various place with loss of multiple dams. Flood killed 802,000 cattle, damaged 149 bridges, 682,000 houses, 1000 km roads and thousands acre crops were washed away. Media shown corpses floating people on wood logs [Geo 2022]. Experts advise to dig deep wells on way of floods to charge ground water table reducing pressure on dams and barrages. We can dump all the river waters in well to charge groundwater table in Punjab and Baluchistan to reduce flood pressure which broke several dams in Baluchistan and increased pressure on barrages in Sindh. Water table is already high in Sindh so local soil has little water absorption capacity.
Four phases of disaster include response, recovery, mitigation and prepared. NDMA was established in 2010 after Kashmir earthquake 2005 in which more than 100,000 people died. Nothing can be done during disaster except rescuing people as much as you can do. First response is to reduce morbidities and mortalities followed by recovery efforts to normalize the situation. Mitigation refers to acts to reduce or prevent probability of repetition of such disaster in future. Plan, train and educate staff how to deal with wide spectrum of natural disasters.
Flood smashed telephone, mobile, internet services and damaged power pylons affecting millions of consumers. Government gave credit free call facility but many communications towers had fallen during flash floods. Road and railway transportation system came to halt and few airports were shut down due to water on runways. Army helicopters reached far flung areas to send ration and medicines.
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Rescue efforts refer to rescue dissaster victims from site using necessary machinery and manpower to supply them first aid and food. Relief activities emergency relocation, financial/essentials support, assessment of damage and impact of dissaster. Rehabliation activities phase consists of temporary settlement, repair of damaged infrasructures,reconstruction and normalization. Recovery phase consists of permanent settlement, community development, renewal, mitigation and prevention strategies.
Source: Ocnus.net 2022