Climate action beyond tree plantation drives

Ahmad Younas worries that not enough is being done to conserve and protect the environment

Climate action beyond tree plantation drives
Our planet formed around 4.54 billion years ago, approximately one-third of the age of universe, by accretion from solar nebula. The earliest undisputed evidence of life on earth dates at least from 3.5 billion years ago. The earth has aged over this time and the reality that it needs proper care cannot be denied. Over the last few years, humanity has been confronted with many natural disasters. According to experts, natural disasters and environmental changes are linked and together, result in the increased occurrence of earthquakes and tsunamis. Extreme weather conditions are also the result of human activities and we, despite being aware of this fact, continue to ruin the natural environment.

It is vital to stress here that conservation of the environment is also an integral component of our religion. As inhabitants of this world, it is our prime responsibility to protect it. There is a reason behind the existence of everything, whether it is bacteria, an elephant, an eagle or a plant. Every creation should encourage us to think and ponder over the meaning and purpose of its existence. This is not a western idea, rather it came to us through Muslim scholars such as Jafar Bin Hayan, Albiruni, Syed Ziaur Rehman and Ibn Tufail among others.
Pakistan is a country blessed with all kinds of natural resources but during the last few decades its glaciers have melted substantially due to global warming

Today, we prefer to live in big houses, buy fancy cars and every form of luxury without realising the consequences of the use of technology. Environmentalists have provided statistics about the constantly increasing temperature of earth`s atmosphere and the main reasons for this situation are human activities which include burning of fossil fuels that release harmful emissions into the atmosphere. This drastic change in the temperature of our planet is alarming and threatens the survival of mankind. Increase in temperatures are resulting in melting of glaciers, rising sea levels, heat waves, prolonged droughts, floods and spread of viral diseases. The main problem caused by global warming is scarcity of water that can ultimately kill all life on earth. Water is the necessity of all kinds of living things and its shortage will result in a disastrous disturbance of food chains and natural ecosystems.

Pakistan is a country blessed with all kinds of natural resources but during the last few decades its glaciers have melted substantially due to global warming. Satellite views of the Himalayas, the Hindukush and Karakoram heights show that the number of lakes and water bodies is increasing in valleys as glaciers continue to melt. Pakistan is ranked eighth in the list of countries affected badly by drastic weather conditions. If we talk about the northern areas of Pakistan, Chitral and Gilgit have been affected the most.

Experts link the recent glacial melting in Ghizer district of Gilgit Baltistan to climate change. The melting of the glacier in Ghizer resulted in the formation of an artificial lake. More than two dozen houses were submerged and massive chunks of fertile land destroyed. There are still many villagers stranded in various locations. Experts from World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan) cite the reasons for this frequent melting of glaciers as deforestation, global warming and changed climatic patterns.

Some similar cases include the formation of Attabad Lake due to glacial melting and land sliding in the Attabad village of Hunza. The lake was formed in 2010 and it caused massive destruction. Over 170 houses and 120 shops were flooded, more than 20 people died and 6,000 were displaced by the flooding. The landslide blocked 12 miles of Karakoram Highway due to which almost 25,000 people were stranded in upstream villages.

Such incidents can be avoided by plantation of carefully chosen-species of trees which could reduce intensity of floods and cool off glaciers. We can take help from latest technologies as well and opt for a community-based early flood warning system. Slowing down deforestation can also help promote environmental stability.

Life in Chitral is completely dependent on water from glaciers, so if we want to save Chitral, we will have to save glaciers. If the glaciers keep melting, we will not only lose precious lives but here is a chance that the great history of region could be lost to us forever. In order to save these glaciers, the KP government should take some concrete measures. There should be a ban on cutting trees in Chitral and the use of shopping bags should be prohibited completely.

The government should also control the country’s population, reduce the use of transportation that produces harmful smoke, avoid tin sheets while constructing homes and promote the use of eco-friendly materials.

There is a complex relationship between the earth and human beings, and there is no doubt in the truth of the old proverb: as you sow, so shall you reap. If we take care of our planet, it will reward us in turn. And if humans do not stop their harmful activities, the earth will be destroyed completely.

The government should address this problem seriously and engage the civil society, religious groups, media and NGOs to highlight this problem and take effective measures to reduce environmental issues.