Stories about climate change

With heavy snowfall in April, climate change has worsened life in Balochistan

Ahmad Ali and his 55-year-old mother have had their last meal of the day. They go to bed after offering their Isha prayers. They both have been frugal because they want to save some dry wood for the next day. It has been raining all day and it continues to rain all night. In the early morning, when Ali’s mother awoke for her Fajar prayers, it started to snow. The early spring snowfall was surprising for the locals since the valley, which was once famous for its snow-clad winters, has seen a decline in its share of rainfall and snowfall ...

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Pakistan’s wildlife: Going, going, gone!

As we go about our busy lives, completely dependent on fossil fuels from the vehicles that transport us to the houses we live in electrified by thermal power plants, we remain blissfully ignorant of the damage resource extraction and unchecked development has done to the flora and fauna of our planet. How conveniently we look the other way as yet another housing estate gobbles up even more rural land and old trees are cut down to make way for roads! Scientists have now rung the alarm bells that we humans are driving the sixth mass extinction on Earth. A new ...

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Apart from planting trees, what is Pakistan doing to fight climate change?

This week, the House of Commons in the UK became the first parliament to declare an ‘environment and climate change emergency’. The symbolic move, recognising the urgency to tackle the climate crisis, was largely the result of a mass movement organised by the new group, Extinction Rebellion. This group, led mostly by young people, says that time is running out in order to limit global warming to 1.5C and thus demands that solutions be implemented. Supporting them is Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old school girl from Sweden who started the #SchoolStrike4Climate, inspired a global movement and has now been nominated ...

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Our Planet is more traumatic than it is engaging, and therein lies its greatest fault

Filled with majestic views, dazzling imagery and mesmerising natural spectacles, Our Planet is undoubtedly visually stunning, but it is also traumatising. The nature documentary that arrived on Netflix earlier this month aims to take a look at the impact of climate change on the various life forms which populate the Earth, but takes a few questionable turns along the way. Evidently, years of work have gone into the creation of this visual masterpiece. Over the course of eight episodes, the series takes the viewer from frozen worlds to lush jungles to stunning water bodies, showing how animals live in these ...

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Pakistan is in a climate crisis but its minister incharge is a bigger cause for concern

As a journalist who regularly covers climate change related issues, I was taught early on by my former editor at BBC, Alex Kirby, that: “Your job is to communicate the science, not to do it, and if you do not know much about it, you will probably be better able to understand your readers’ ignorance and confusion about the subject. But never overestimate their knowledge, and never underestimate their intelligence.” I have always tried to communicate climate change in the easiest possible language, but the primary intention has always been to remain cognisant of the scientific facts. You cannot dumb-down climate ...

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Pakistan’s melting glaciers: Our climate change crisis will destabilise Asia’s rivers

Pakistan is fortunate to be home to three great mountain ranges: the Himalayas, the Karakoram and the Hindu Kush. In fact, on the drive up the Karakoram Highway from Islamabad to Gilgit, I often stop at a place near Jaglote town where these three ranges actually meet. One can see the grand vista from the road, which could easily be missed if not for a sign nearby which reads, “The junction point of the three mightiest mountain ranges of the world.” The Karakoram includes the K2, the world’s second-highest peak, and is the most heavily glaciated area on the planet apart ...

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Balochistan is thirsty for a drop of water – what will it take for Pakistan to notice?

It is no secret that Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province, is facing a chronic water shortage issue and has been experiencing severe droughts for decades. Water is one of the basic necessities of life, fundamental for the existence of life to begin with, and without it we will all cease to exist. And yet the province is moving closer towards becoming a land without water. At least seven small and large rivers flow across Balochistan, from which the Hingol River (the longest river in the province) covers a length of 560 kilometres. Despite the flow of these seven rivers, Balochistan is in ...

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COP24: Time is running out and this may be our last attempt to save our planet

The UN Climate Change Conference 2018, or COP24 as it widely known, started with a bang and ended with a whimper two weeks later in Katowice, Poland. The bang came at the high level opening ceremony on December 2nd where celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sir David Attenborough warned negotiators that “time is running out” for the world to take action to control global warming. Unfortunately, their warnings were not taken seriously as the Paris Rulebook that was finalised at Katowice on December 15th actually ended up watering down the Paris Agreement, especially in terms of finance, loss and ...

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While Balochistan’s natural gas keeps the rest of Pakistan warm, its own residents are freezing in silence

On a cool and sunny November afternoon, Ahmad Habib sat behind his shop, located in Quetta’s main Liaquat Bazar, accompanied by a handful of other local shop owners. They sat together, enjoying the traditional kahwa with gur (jaggery), a drink designed to keep their bodies warm for long. Unlike the past four years, this year’s winter is warm and appealing, mainly due to an abundance of sunny days. More often than not, mid-November is a time when the strength of the heat gradually weakens and cool, dry wind arrives for an extended stay. These cool winds slowly whisper and signal the ...

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Declared ‘intangible’, the heritage of Kalash is over 3,000 years old – but will it survive the 21st century?

‘Ishpata Inn and Restaurant’, says the sign to a roadside hotel in Bumburet Valley in the Chitral district. Ishpata means welcome in the Kalasha language spoken exclusively by the endangered Kalash people, an ethnic group that has lived in three secluded valleys of these towering mountains for centuries: Bumburet, Rumbur and Birir. There are only around 4,000 Kalash villagers left in Chitral. They are one of the last peoples of western Asia to retain their aboriginal culture and have survived many waves of invaders, refusing to convert to Islam. Their neighbours across the mountains in the north-western region of ...

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