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Express Tribune

Published Date: Jun 21, 2011

CLIMATE CHANGE A THREAT TO HUMAN SECURITY

Comprehensive policies and concerted efforts are necessary to deal with the complex and devastative effects of climate change, which is now a serious threat to human for Pakistan. Experts stated this at a seminar on “Looming dangers of climate change on national and human security”, organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday.

SDPI Climate Change Study Centre Senior Research Associate Shakeel Ahmad Ramay said that Pakistan simultaneously faces many problems, such as financial and food challenges, amid the worsening issue of climate change. He said that the biggest manifestation of climate change in Pakistan was the 2010 floods, which caused over US$10 billion in damages and increased the percentage of population facing food insecurity from 48.7 to 58.7 per cent.

Ramay said that as a result of climate change, the country particularly faces agricultural and water challenges along with degradation of natural resources. All of Pakistan’s regions except Gilgit-Baltistan are highly vulnerable to the affects of climate change with regard to agricultural production, he added.

He said the country has no national agricultural policy or food security policy, except in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The construction of the controversial Baglihar Dam by India and rapid melting of Siachen glacier due to the military presence there will have damaging effects for the people of both India and Pakistan in the short and long run.

National Defense University (NDU), Peace and Conflict Studies Department Head Dr Noman Sattar, called climate change “a threat multiplier to national and human security and a complex challenge for the global community, especially for resource-starved developing countries.”

“Declining ecosystem services, the threat of climate change, and HIV/AIDS related problems combine to create or exacerbate political instability and economic hardship for millions in Africa, clearly explaining why 90 per cent of current conflicts are found in 30 per cent of the poorest countries,” he added.

Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC) Islamabad Executive Director Arshad Muhammad Khan was of the view that anthropogenic influences since the industrial revolution, spiralling population, the high pace of industrialisation, increased use of fossil oils in industry and transportation, and deforestation for agriculture and urbanisation have fuelled climate change. The impacts, he said, are apparent in the shape of uncertainty in water availability, decreasing crop yields, loss of biodiversity, increased health risks, and newer perspectives for sources of energy. Climate change, he explained, includes 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.