Stories about environment

The Karachi Biennale: Is art a bigger threat than extra judicial killings?

What transpired at the Karachi Biennale 2019 (KB19) soon after its inauguration is simultaneously disquieting as well as deeply insightful. It presents an opportunity for us to reflect on the systemic and endemic intolerance for dissent that exists in our social, administrative, and political structures. We live in times where art and speech are not only censured by official channels but even society at large often turns a blind eye to the callous condemnation of free expression by the powers that be. Anything that makes them uncomfortable is considered taboo and everything that questions the status quo is considered a ...

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The resilient tribesmen and Balochistan’s Chilghoza trees

Last month at a ceremony held in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Action Summit, a project from a remote part of Balochistan, the Kasa Ghar Community Based Organisation of the Sulaiman Range, won the Equator Prize for conserving Chilghoza forests. I was thrilled to hear about the global recognition (the project was one amongst 22 communities across the world which were selected for this prize) as I have actually visited these Chilghoza forests in the Shirani district of Balochistan. By creating a successful value-added market model for Chilghoza nuts, this community-based organisation has conserved around 9,000 ...

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The world will not forgive ‘Captain Chainsaw’ if the Amazon continues to burn

The fires in the Amazon rainforest have been the current topic of discussion this past week on social media, as people share photographs and outrage over the destruction of the ‘lungs of the earth’. However, a lot of the information is not exactly accurate, including many outdated pictures that have gone viral. Some Brazilians also feel that there is some sort of conspiracy against their new government, led by their right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, especially since he has dismissed the scientific consensus about climate change, calling it a hoax. Given his allegations of a “fake news campaign built against our sovereignty,” perhaps the best ...

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High BMI and low stamina could not stop me from making that hike

This is going to take a while. I’m still processing my feelings after spending three nights in the middle of a local forest managed by Forest, Wildlife and Fisheries Department of Pakistan. There is so much that needs to be expressed because you cannot sum your experience up in a hashtag when it comes to the profoundness brought by nature. In comparison to other people, a sedentary lifestyle and a higher body mass index (BMI) barely helps you when climbing a few stairs or performing day-to-day physical tasks without experiencing fatigue. Walking for a few minutes seems like a never-ending task ...

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Re-wear that jeans and stay away from those burgers – Saving Pakistan’s water is on you now!

The last few days have been odd! As someone who has always been shown the “who cares, loser?” face when I tell them about my work as a water economist, I have lately been asked a lot about the water situation in Pakistan, as well as the possible solutions for it. “Kya asal may pani khatam horaha hai?” (Are we really running out of water?) “Hum dam kyun nahi bana letay buhat saray?” (Why don’t we build a lot of dams?) “India humara pani kyun kha raha hai?” (Why is India taking our water?) The water crisis in Pakistan is indeed real, and the debate is much larger ...

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Is the food at your child’s school canteen safe?

According to the World Food Programme,  “When a person is not getting enough food or not getting the right sort of food, malnutrition is just around the corner” But while trying to define the ‘right food’, one is instantly made aware of all the ‘wrong’ food that is being consumed. It’s shocking how excessively such low quality and injurious food is multiplying in the local markets and school canteens – devoid of any supervision by the concerned food authorities. The effects of junk food are evident amongst our children who face various forms of ailments. Recently, my nephew was diagnosed with obesity and ...

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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. ...

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Are we really going to blame India for the heatwave?

The recent heat wave in Karachi that has claimed over a thousand lives is one more nail in our government’s coffin of negligence and its inability to deal with a crisis. It has also become the norm in the subcontinent to give public officials the opportunity to show just how mind-numbingly dumb they really are. In a recent statement, the Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahidullah Khan has said that the actual responsibility for the heat wave lies with the boogie across the border, India. He claims that coal-powered plants in Rajasthan, India could have contributed to the heat wave. The senator does not quote any scientific research to support his claim, ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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