Over the past 3 months, Pakistan has been experiencing the worst flooding in its history. Since June 2022, more than 1,400 people have died due to the mass flooding, millions have been displaced and currently, more than one-third of the country is underwater.
The flooding has become so severe that 33 million people about 15% of the population have been directly affected, and the floods have caused about $10 billion dollars of damage.
In addition, the main concern right now is the secondary disasters that could result from flooding. This includes the spread of major water diseases such as Chlorella, and food insecurity, as almost 1 million herds of livestock have been killed and 2 million acres have been destroyed. The looming food crisis is frightening. Prior to the flooding, it was estimated that 27 million people were facing major food insecurity, and that number is only about to go up.
Due to Pakistan’s location it experiences heavy monsoons, with this year’s season has been more severe than usual, resulting in the worst flooding in Pakistan’s history. This season has seen downpours 10 times more severe than usual, and some regions such as the Sindh and Balochistan provinces have experiences 500 times more rainfall. This rain has resulted in destructive flash floods in the northern mountain, and an accumulation of water creating massive lakes in the south. The human impact of the floods has become so severe that whole communities have become submerged underwater.
So why is the monsoon season so bad this year? The simple answer is global warming. Summer 2022 was one of the hottest summers on record, with heat waves reported across South Asia earlier in the summer than usual which only persisted. The insane heat has melted glaciers and ice caps resulting in more precipitation and water flow from the mountains. This is having a distinct impact on Pakistan as the country is home to more glaciers than anywhere outside the polar region. This includes the famous mountains of K2, Broad Peak and Nanga Parbat.
“South Asia is one of the world’s global climate crisis hotspots. People living in these hotspots are 15 times more likely to die from climate impacts,”
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What is particular heartbreaking about the situation in Pakistan is the fact that Pakistan is responsible for less than 1% of all global emissions but is paying the price. The damage of the floods covers an area roughly the size of the United Kingdom, and currently, experts are unable to pinpoint when the flooding will subside. In addition, the damage to the environment, communities and economy is yet to be determined.
The situation in Pakistan has been overshadowed in the news, and it further demonstrated how unconcerned western governments are about the looming climate crisis. Even the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, has commented on the seriousness of the flooding in Pakistan, stating that the world is “sleepwalking” into the climate crisis.
“As we continue to see more and more extreme weather events around the world, it is outrageous that climate action is being put on the back burner as global emissions of greenhouse gases are still rising, putting all of us — everywhere — in growing danger.”