Effects of Climate Change on KPK Province of Pakistan

INTRODUCTION

Climate change and its effects can be seen around the world with its influence on water industry, our biodiversity and forests. It also has impacts on our health and socio-economic conditions. A report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that the under developed and poorly developed nations are more on the verge of climate change and are more susceptible to its effects. This can be seen whenever any climatic disaster occurs in such area the poor are more affected due to lack of communication and resources. Human made activities i.e., anthropogenic activities are the major cause for such climate related disasters and the people with low wages are highly affected. The release of the green house gases and consumption of fossil fuels has significantly increased after the industrial revolution. These gases remain in the atmosphere for a long period of time and warm the planet in turn.

For more info please read: What is Climate Change Adaptation? – Importance and Methods

Location of province

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was formerly known as North West frontier Province (NWFP). It is situated near the west and north side of Afghanistan, Azad Kashmir in the east and Gilgit Baltistan in the northeast, the Punjab province in the southeast and Balochistan is located in the southwest. FATA is along the western side of the province which was formerly a part of the Afghan tribal communities until 2018. Peshawar is considered to be the provincial capital. The total area of the province is 101,741 square km and the total population is 35,519,927 as of 2017.

Topography of province

This province has mainly terrains of mountains ranges, submontane areas and foot-plains along with hills.  The mountainous region starts from the north up to the north- south, to the south of the River Kabul and divides the province into two parts east and west. The HinduKush region is very famous for its beauty and the highest peak is Tirch mir of about 25,230 feet. The eastern part is occupied by the Lesser Himalayas and Sub Himalayas. This province is seismically active with moderate to high tremors. There are climatic variations due to elevations. The valley faces cold winters and moderate cool summers. The rainfall is 400 mm annually during January to April. In the mountainous slopes there are evergreen oaks, conifers and pine trees. Some parts of the province are home to grasslands that extend in the south and are occupied by grasses, acacia and bushes. Most of these forests and trees are cut down due to deforestation.

Have a look at: How Much Time Earth Has Before Climate Change Destroys it?

EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA

1. Glacier melting and glacial retreat

Pakistan is facing glacial melting at 2.3 % per year and this is to increase at the end of 2050. Currently there are 7000 glaciers in Pakistan stretching from Himalaya to Hindu Kush in which 3000 glaciers are already unstable. These glaciers provide water to the nearby communities and thousands of people are dependent on them. Though they are melting at a rapid rate and about 30 are at a high risk to burst and cause ice avalanche and flash floods. The IPCC reports that if we limit the temperature rise to 1.5 ˚C still about 30% of glaciers will melt till 2050. For more information read: Climate Change and Himalayan Glacier Hazard

2. Floods

About one third of the province is at the risk of floods. Due to the unexpected flash floods and inadequate mitigation strategies in Swat, Upper and Lower Dir, Mansehra, Shangla, Malakand are all at risk of flash floods. The flood in Swat in august 2021 affected 240,000 household last year. To know more about flash floods, read Flash Floods – Causes, Effects, Prevention and Management

3. Extreme Weather Events Like Snow  Storm And Heatwaves

Extreme snow blizzards and snow storms are expected to the increase throughout the northern part of the province. One such event has been reported in January 2022 where more than 20 deaths has reported due to snow storm near galiyaat region. Due to the increasing temperatures more frequent and harsh heat waves have been reported. These trends will continue to get worse. For more information, read: Heatwaves in Pakistan And India – Causes, Effects, Solutions

Also check out: Natural Disasters Common In Pakistan and their Impact

4. Mass Migration of Humans Towards Cities

Most of the people in the province live in the rural areas and are farmers or fisher men. People will move towards the cities as there will be less opportunities in rural areas due to impacts of climate change and this will cause stress on cities, slums and spread of disease due to high population. There is already high population influx towards the cities due to job opportunities.

5. Soil erosion

The soil erosion in the province is causing loss of rich fertile agricultural land and causes increased pollution as sediments flow in the water bodies. These damage the aquatic life. These lands have top soils that cannot withstand water and can cause flooding. To know more about soil erosion, please read: Soil Erosion and Degradation – Causes, Effects, and Solutions

6. Seasonal Change and Decreased Crop Yield

The wheat crops in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkwa are facing damaging effects due to rise in high temperatures and pre maturing of the seeds. The already affected monsoon season is diminishing the crop yield and production. The germination of seeds will be affected that occurs at 10 to 25 ˚C With the increase in temperature. KPK is a major producer of fruits in Pakistan and any decline in crop yield would result in food insecurity in Pakistan.

7. Landslides Due to Melting Permafrost

Landslides with ice avalanches that bring thick ice boulders with them have been reported which block the roads and tore down the bridges and electricity connections. There are have been road accidents and other fatalities due to them. The frequency of these will likely increase due to Climate Change as temperatures rise.

You might also be interested in: Effect of Climate Change On Gilgit Baltistan of Pakistan

8. Species Extinction

The biodiversity of KPK province is really rich, both in terms of animals and plants. There exists a wide range of species such as red squirrel, rhesis monkey, leopard, wild bears, markhoor and variety of birds. Most of them have been included in the IUCN red list due to hunting, climate change or habitat loss. These species face another threat in the form of increase in wildfires in the rigion. Also read: Wildlife Is Already Coping With Effects of Climate Change

CONCLUSION

Although there has been much damage already done to the province due to climate change and its effects but its effect can still be rectified by doing more outcome based research in this field such as glacial lake outburst flow or the massive species extinction or creating more opportunities towards the youth to stop migration to cities. A climate change adaptation plan on provincial as well as federal level is required to mitigate the impacts of climate change and to protect the region from further disasters.

Also check out: Climate Despair – A Scheme By Corporations To Hinder Action?

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