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Floods of Biblical Proportions

The CO2 in our atmosphere has increased by more than 30% since pre-industrial times, mainly due to the combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation. The concentrations of other natural radiatively active atmospheric components, such as methane and nitrous oxide, are increasing as well due to agricultural, industrial, and other activities. The Earth’s climate is warmer today than at any time during the last 140 years and the warming continues.

The countries in South Asia are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Developing countries in this region have the least capacity to adapt and will be the most adversely affected (1).

Monsoons are normal seasonal events in South-East Asia. As summer comes to a close, the relatively cool, dense air over the sea flows into the heated air above land areas, resulting in strong winds, while the cooler air, as it warms, releases its moisture as rain. Normally the rainy season is welcome after the dry months. But monsoons have been arriving earlier and becoming more severe as the planet heats.

Pakistan ranks among the most climate-vulnerable countries (2). This summer, the monsoon rains poured down in Pakistan causing floods which have been described as "of biblical proportions". Rivers burst their banks. A third of the country is under water. Roads and bridges lie destroyed, crops are ruined, thousands of homes inundated. Over 33 million people were affected and some 1400 lost their lives . The Pakistani government estimates the cost of recovery to be over $10 billion (3).

Pakistan is responsible for less than 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions (4).

UN Secretary General António Guterres said, "I have seen many humanitarian disasters in the world, but I have never seen climate carnage on this scale."

He went on to observe, "Wealthier countries are morally responsible for helping developing countries like Pakistan to recover from disasters like this, and to adapt to build resilience to climate impacts that unfortunately will be repeated in the future." (5)

-Julie Wornan



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