Stories about climate change

Mommy tips: How to raise a mini activist

When we hear the word “activist”, we immediately think of khadi clad, jhola carrying men and women braving water cannons and lathi charges. But an activist is one who campaigns for social change of any kind, someone who identifies the rot in society and speaks about it. There are various degrees of activism and similarly various ways of showing dissent. Thomas Jefferson said, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism” and any thriving society needs such voices. Such conscientious persons are not born but raised. One might feel that preteens are too young to grapple the socio-political dynamics of a complex society, ...

Read Full Post

I love the UN, but it is failing

I have worked for the United Nations for most of the last three decades. I was a human rights officer in Haiti in the 1990s and served in the former Yugoslavia during the Srebrenica genocide. I helped lead the response to the Indian Ocean tsunami and the Haitian earthquake, planned the mission to eliminate Syrian chemical weapons, and most recently led the Ebola mission in West Africa. I care deeply for the principles the United Nations is designed to uphold. And that’s why I have decided to leave. The world faces a range of terrifying crises, from the threat of climate change to terrorist breeding grounds in ...

Read Full Post

Is a discussion on climate change even relevant to a third world country like Pakistan?

Over the last century, the average temperature of the earth increased by 0.6 degrees and experts estimated that it will increase by 1.4 to 5.8 degrees centigrade by the end of the current century. What does it mean? How does that have any effect on a person’s daily life? For a third world country that is struggling with power outages and recurring political crises, is this even a relevant discussion? The answer is yes. It is relevant. It is important. And it impacts all of us. The geographical location of Pakistan places it in a heat surplus zone, which makes it extremely susceptible to the impact of climate change. The occurrence of ...

Read Full Post

Lest We Forget about the calamities of nature

“Hmm… good caption,” I opened a journal lying in my cupboard bearing the title ‘Lest We Forget’. It was a diary from 2011, printed by a corporate institution. The journal was dedicated to the valour of 20 million people affected by the devastating floods in Pakistan in 2010.  Each separator of the diary told a different story, both photos and narrative reliving the tragic episode. There were tales of compassion, accounts of faith, legends of misery, and sagas of determination. From Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) to Sindh, there was a weak humanity photographed facing the disastrous wrath of nature. Pakistan suffered the worst floods in 2010 – a calamity much greater ...

Read Full Post

Why aren’t oil companies apologising for the oil spills in Nigeria?

The current world economy is structured in such a way that the fossil fuel industry has unquestionable hegemonic power. Developed and developing economies alike need energy to sustain and grow. This energy market is monopolised by the fossil fuel industry. Oil, natural gas and other energy producing fossil fuels have not only helped build some of the biggest companies in the world, but have also aided the development and solidification of certain national economies like the Gulf states and Venezuela. This monopoly in the energy sector seems to have given oil corporations power over states – allowing certain companies to be careless in cleaning up massive oil ...

Read Full Post

Why doesn’t Pakistan care about climate change?

You may have come across news about climate change or an agreement in Paris in December, and ignored it. For many of us, this threat seems far off from Pakistan; but it is coming our way, and if we don’t prepare ourselves the right way, the damage could be insurmountable. The threat I am referring to is one posed by climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions are causing world temperatures to rise and if we don’t act to slow down, and eventually stop carbon emissions, our planet will become uninhabitable for our grandchildren. People in Pakistan might question why this matters for a country like ours; it is not ...

Read Full Post

Dear Karachiites, before you plant trees, think

The heat wave that killed more than 1,300 people in Karachi seems like a long time ago. Concerned citizens, in the heat of the moment, promised to plant trees, but very little has been said regarding when and how this can be done. As time is passing and cool monsoon winds are blowing away painful memories of the heat wave, the promises seem to be dissipating. Where memories are short lived, long-term efforts to mitigate a recurrence of the same catastrophe seem nowhere in sight. That is the problem with climate change – the cause and effect, both take place over extended periods of time. ...

Read Full Post

Over 400 dead in Karachi and yet we have no plan of action

More than 400 people have died in Karachi since yesterday, due to the deadly heat wave that has laid siege over the city. That’s more than 400 homes struck by tragedy for no apparent reason. That’s more than 400 lives simply wasted away because the local government had no system in place for such a calamity. But then again, when was the last time that we had a system in place for anything? Even in this recent tragedy, chaos ensued. Even hospitals around the city were not equipped to handle the commotion. Jinnah Hospital ran out of ORS and clean drinking water because of the ...

Read Full Post

#HeatWave: Sindh can take lessons from Ahmedabad’s Heat Action Plan

The scorching heat last month in most of the central and southern India resulted in the death of 2,500 people. And it seems like it is Pakistan’s turn now. Yesterday, around 180 people lost their lives in Karachi due to an intense heat wave. India recorded its highest maximum temperature of 47 degrees Celsius / 117 degrees Fahrenheit, in Angul in the state of Odisha. Similarly Pakistan, in recent weeks, has suffered from one of the most severe heat waves in decades, with temperatures reaching as high as 45 degrees Celsius / 117 degrees Fahrenheit. This was the highest temperature recorded for the month since ...

Read Full Post

World Environment Day: Are Pakistanis dirty or simply lazy?

Imagine driving through the busiest street of a major metropolitan city in Pakistan. What would you see? Buildings, vehicles, street vendors, a crowd of people? Obviously. But alongside this, you would also be welcomed by a heap of filthy, smelly garbage simple lying around the pavements. And ironically, this view is not unique to one street; almost every street in all major areas of Pakistan has the same scene welcoming those who travel through them. If ones environment signifies ones psyche, then we Pakistanis indeed have very dirty minds. But, as most would argue, this isn’t our fault… right? I mean, is it ...

Read Full Post