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Analyzing the Impact of Climate Change in Balochistan

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Climate Change occurs when the normal temperature of Earth’s atmosphere along with oceans and landmasses undergoes a marked increase. Researchers are of the view that our planet is right now confronting a time of accelerated warming fuelled by rising levels of heat trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Ozone harming substances hold the heat accrued to Earth by the Sun in a process known as the Greenhouse effect that occurs normally, and without them the planet would be too cold to even think about sustaining life. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1700s, human practices have brought on more of these gases into the climate. Although a global phenomenon, Climate Change has engulfed Balochistan province and its effects over here have been more pronounced in the last few years.

In one end of the country i.e. Balochistan we are fast losing our coastline to seawater intrusion, while at the other, glaciers are fast melting, resulting in permanent reductions in water flows in our rivers. With the changing cropping calendar, and more erratic and unpredictable monsoon season, Pakistan’s food insecurity is also under increasing threat of climate change. The swelling unpredictability in river flows has made planning for hydro-energy much more difficult and unreliable. As environmental degradation takes place, livelihood options shrink, forcing people to migrate to cities in search of economic opportunities. Climate-induced migration has already made Pakistan one of the most urbanized counties in South Asia.

Water deficiency has increased because of exhaustion of underground water table in Balochistan and if remedial measure are not undertaken soon enough, the menace of Global Warming would transform the province into a wasteland. Balochistan, when a water surplus territory with multiple lakes, cascades and springs, has been grappling serious water shortage throughout the last three decades.

Environmental change coupled with frequent droughts, underground water level has drained to 1,000 ft, evaporating the antiquated ‘Karez system’ with the progression of wells and connecting underground channels that utilizes gravity to convey ground water to the surface.

Experts are of the view that most regions of the province will come up short on water in next 10 to 12 years if the situation persists. This scenario would spell doom in terms of water shortage fore Quetta, Pashin, Loralai, Qila Saifullah, Qila Abdullah, Ziarat and the port city of Gwadar – the epicenter of CPEC project.

The recent unprecedented spell of rains in South Balochistan is a direct corollary of the changes in climatic patterns. According to Imran Zarkon, the Head of provincial disaster management authority, a total of nine districts of the province have been affected by flash floods as result of heavy rains and snow. The accompany floods have obliterated scores of mud houses and affected the livestock of people besides heavily damaging the infrastructure. Rescue and relief teams are busy providing food and shelter around 28,000 so affected.

According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military’s media wing, recently said that it has been active in providing relief for a several days on end in different parts of Balochistan. Armed forces helicopters were utilized in Nushki area to safeguard stranded individuals to more secure spots. Aid packages like tents, cushions, blankets have been conveyed through helicopters in affected territories of Mand and Turbat.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) almost 1,500 families had been saved by Pakistan Army aeronautics helicopters in Dureji (Lasbela) and Qila Abdullah regions. Additionally, proportions have been given to somewhere in the range of 3,500 families in the downpour influenced regions of the area.

Melting glaciers in the Himalayas would further deplete water resources in the next few decades, which will lead to the dearth of freshwater and major loss in biodiversity. The coastal areas of Balochistan will bear the brunt of Climate Change due to increased flooding and over flow of water in the rivers. This would deepen socioeconomic and unequal allocation of resources in the event of environmentally induced conflicts, migration patterns and displacement of the people.

Erosion of the soil, air contamination, water pollution, deforestation, and obliteration of juniper forests are the forefronts of ecological degradation in Balochistan with devasting environmental draw for the country as a whole.

The ongoing dry spell in Balochistan is the harbinger of unsustainable utilization of natural resources. Population settlements lack proper planning, contaminated water supplies, non-existent sanitation and waste management. These are developing as serious issues as the population quickly grows and urbanization is accelerated. The sustainable land assets consist of water, soil, woods, wide life and natural meadows. Sagacious utilization of these assets is the key to ensuring environmental protection. Balochistan is 44 percent of landmass of Pakistan with a region of 3,47,000-sq. km. Domesticated animals contribute around 20 percent of the common GDP, being the primary source of income for the majority of the population.

As indicated by the Balochistan Conservation Strategy (BCS), actually for quite a bit of its ongoing history, the province had to battle major natural difficulties. The deficiency of water for drinking and farming, and ruined fields and wetlands have been the subject of major concern for a considerable length of time. Fertile land exhaustion in the territory has been attributable to thriving populace, land Mafia, persistent dry spell as of late, overgrazing and deforestation. The deforestation and overgrazing wrecked widely varied vegetation other than exhausting the vegetation front of the rangelands.

In order to check this state of affairs, both the central and provincial governments need to develop a constructive monitoring and enforcement modus operandi so as to abide by international environmental protocol with attendant laws and standards. Construction of long overdue dams throughout Balochistan may go a long way in preserving the water reservoirs. The concerns for the climate need to reflect in the government policy decisions in order to cut back the pace of environmental degradation and devise means to promote sustainable livelihoods and enhanced quality of life.

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Leena Shah Mir is a freelance analyst from Gwadar, Balochistan.

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