Climate change is a reality which stares us in the face. For several years now, scientific studies have been warning of climate change caused by increased greenhouse gas emissions, and the risks it carries for global populations and their ways of life. According to the annual ' State of the Climate Report 2017', to which 500 climate scientists from around the world contributed, 2016 was the second warmest ever recorded on Earth. And last year was not far behind without an El Nino occurrence - a periodical climatic event happening in the Pacific Ocean due to rise in surface water temperatures with extensive impact on physical conditions within the oceans as well as on global weather.
Strangely, President Donald Trump, has been calling global warming a "hoax" and a "concept... created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive. Last year, he decided to pull out of the Paris Agreement that set the long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperatures to well below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels by limiting the increase to 1.5 C. The report, overseen by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and released by the American Metrological Society, goes on to note that the annual global average CO2 concentration on Earth's surface was "the highest in modern atmospheric measurements recorded, and in ice core record dating back as far as 800,000 years."
The global growth rate of CO2 has nearly quadrupled since the early 1960s. The result is that in May last year, ice in the Arctic reached its lowest maximum level in 37 years - something not seen in the region for the last 2000 years. And throughout 2017, the sea ice in the Antarctic region remained below average. Conditions on land were not any different. Glaciers lost mass for the 38th consecutive year, which is like slicing 22 meters off the top of an average glacier. Furthermore, says the report, three years of unremitting warming has been the "longest, most widespread and almost certainly most destructive" coral bleaching event, also badly affecting ocean ecosystems while the global average sea levels reached the highest level in the 25-year satellite record.
In Pakistan, the world's highest temperature ever for May was recorded on May 28 in Turbat, with a high of 128.3 degrees Fahrenheit (53 Celsius). Going by current news accounts of abnormally high temperatures in parts of Europe and North America, 2018 may well be en course of becoming the fourth hottest year in a row.Although Pakistan has a negligible carbon footprint, it is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, and ranks among the top 10 water-stressed nations -facts that hold devastating consequences for its agri-based economy.
The country has already been experiencing extreme weather events in the form of recurring floods, droughts, and erratic weather patterns. Yet environment figured nowhere in successive governments' list of priorities. The last government did elevate climate change from a division level to ministry but, apparently, only to create a cabinet position for a loyalist. The minister neither had relevant experience nor the necessary resources at his disposal to undertake any meaningful initiative. The incoming PTI government's leadership has raised hopes of betterment, devoting considerable attention to the issue in its manifesto as well as election campaign. Experts expect it to come up with an urgent and well thought-out plan of action to combat the rising threat of climate change.