by Vinci Tamayo || Photo Credit: Akhtar Soomro/The Guardian
Since mid-June 2022, extreme monsoon rainfall and bursting glacial lakes have caused disastrous floods to wreak havoc in Pakistan. Weeks of torrential rain disrupted the lives of 33 million people and resulted in approximately 1,500 deaths as of September 16, 2022. The government has declared the situation a “national emergency” as the flooding continues to cause devastation to the country amidst its economic crisis. Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, described the flooding as the “worst in Pakistan’s history.”
Although seasonal monsoons are known to usually bring large amounts of rain over the entire country, rainfall for this year’s monsoon season appeared to be much more than expected. Between July to August 2022 alone, Pakistan experienced 190% more rain than the 30-year average. According to Pakistan’s Minister of Climate Change, Sherry Rehman, Sindh and Balochistan—two of the country’s provinces—are currently experiencing the brunt of this disaster, seeing a staggering 784% and 500% increase in rainfall, respectively. This torrential rain has left about one-third of the country inundated as it destroyed homes, automobiles, crops, and livestock, bringing about an estimated $30 billion in damage.
Due to the severity of the situation, the United Nations (UN) launched a $160-million appeal to aid the millions affected by the catastrophe. The organization’s Secretary-General, António Guterres, disclosed to the public that Pakistan is in need of massive financial support as he called for the help of other countries. He further expounded that Pakistan’s flooding was a signal to the rest of the world to step up in combatting climate change.
“Let’s stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change. Today, it’s Pakistan. Tomorrow, it could be your country,” Guterres remarked.
Pakistan health authorities also continue to warn the citizens of a looming health crisis in the country as dengue and malaria cases surge due to countless displaced individuals living near stagnant water. Health officials in southern Sindh province have reported 3,830 cases of dengue fever, with at least nine deaths. However, Dr. Abdul Ghafoor Shoro, Secretary-General of the Pakistan Medical Association, fears that these numbers do not accurately reflect the severity of the issue and that cases will continue to rise.
Pakistan, a nation contributing only less than 1% of global carbon emissions, is experiencing a climate disaster. Various factors cause flooding, but the warming of the atmosphere as a result of climate change increases the likelihood of extreme rainfall. Since the start of the industrial period, the world has already warmed by about 1.2°C, and temperatures will continue to rise unless governments and large corporations drastically reduce emissions.