Published Date: Jun 21, 2011
CLIMATE CHANGE A SERIOUS THREAT TO HUMAN, NATIONAL SECURITY
Climate change is a serious threat to human and national security of Pakistan hence comprehensive policies are necessary to deal with the complex devastating effects of the phenomenon. This was the crux of a seminar on “Looming dangers of climate change on national and human security” organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday.
Arshad Muhammad Khan, Executive Director, Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC), Islamabad, Dr Noman S Sattar, Head of Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the National Defence University (NDU) and Shakeel Ahmed Ramay, Senior Research Associate addressed the gathering.
Arshad Muhammad Khan said that anthropogenic influences since the industrial revolution, spiraling population, high pace of industrialisation, increased use of fossil oils in industry and transportation, deforestation for agriculture and urbanisation have led to the process of climate change.
He said that climate change included global warming, increased precipitation and its uneven distribution, melting of glaciers and snow, sea level rise, increase in frequency and sensitivity of extreme weather events while the impacts were apparent in the shape of uncertainty in water availability, decrease in crops yield, loss of bio-diversity, increased health risks and newer perspectives for sources of energy.
Water challenges and degradation of natural resources as a result of climate change will lead to low agricultural production. Pakistan’s all regions except Gilgit-Baltistan are highly vulnerable to the affects of climate change with regard to agricultural production. He said that country’s 48.7 percent population was food insecure before 2010 floods and now it has gone up around 58.7 percent.
Shakeel Ahmad Ramay said that Pakistan faces many problems simultaneously such as financial and food challenges amid worsening issue of climate change. The biggest manifestation of climate change in Pakistan was 2010 floods which led to at least damages of over 10 billion dollars, he added.
He deplored that the country has to face all these challenges in a situation when no national agricultural policy exists and Punjab is food secure province while other parts of the country are significantly food insecure, he added. He said Construction of controversial Baghlihar dam by India and rapid melting of Siachen glacier due to presence of military by both sides would have devastating effects for the people of both the countries.
Dr Noman S Sattar said the climate change is a threat multiplier to national and human security and is a complex challenge to global community especially, for resource-starved developing countries. It is a very complex and technical problem for the whole world and even the United States in its 2006 National Security Strategy assigned its defence department to plan for deadly pandemics and other natural disasters, Noman added.
He said that the debate called for re-definition of security, from the ‘state’ to the ‘individual’ which implies ensuring the political, social and economic rights through social, economic and political reforms. “While human security is linked to political liberalism, extraneous factors such as environment and climate change can have serious impact as well” he went on saying. He said that Pakistan has faced threats from natural disasters while the threat of terrorism has assumed greater significance than traditional threats.
Urging the link between climate change and human security is important to understand, he said environmental neglect coupled with poverty can turn hazards into disasters adding that poverty is a bad mix and is a factor that makes poor and developing countries more vulnerable against natural and man-made disasters. He said Pakistan has deforestation, increase periods of droughts, water issues, hydel challenges leading to power shortages, weather pattern changes, and food insecurity or scarcity, He called for concerted efforts at the national, regional and global level and also greater collaboration between the civil society and the state. He also urged more and more debate on media on these issues and political will of the leaders for dealing with this challenge.