What Are Pakistan’s Biggest Environmental Challenges?

How is Pakistan Affected By Climate Change:

Pakistan is globally a low carbon emitter however, in terms of the adverse effects of the climate change, Pakistan is suffering from a lot of severe issues mainly that of, but not limited to increased heat, glacial lake outburst flooding in the mountains and Himalayan regions, droughts along with food insecurity.

Also check out: Climate Change Threatens Health and Livelihoods of Pakistanis

Related: Effect of Climate Change On Gilgit Baltistan of Pakistan

Environmental Issues in Pakistan:

  1. Sea Level Rise: The sea level is increasing each year in Pakistan by 1.1mm and it is mainly contributed by due to melting ice sheets, glaciers in the Himalayas and this results in encroaching sea water on lands where people live or farm leading to mass displacement and resettlements.
  2. Migration/Displacement: Due to increased floods, monsoon season floods, GLOFs, rising sea levels, drought and other natural events result in forcing people to move from their lands and houses more inland. This not only increased the burden on cities and other urban areas due to the influx of people lucky enough to make it there but many cannot even afford to live in cities. Thus, land is decreasing due to the increasing climatic threats.
  3. GLOFs and Floods: a total of 3,044 glaciers in the Hindukush and Karakoram range are melting rapidly due to the global warming/ global boiling and as a result this is severely effecting the mountain communities and people living in the Northern regions of Pakistan. This is also undoubtedly aggravated by the air pollution, transboundary pollution from exhausts that lead to accelerated melting of the glaciers.
    For more information check out: Third Pole Is Melting – Himalaya-HinduKush-Karakoram Glacier
  4. Loss of Biodiversity: the decline in bees, vultures, migratory species, natural predators and prey for many ecosystems where certain animals act as keystone and flagship species. Moreover, Pakistan is also losing some of its endemic flora and fauna due to lack of awareness, conservation efforts, pollution and unsustainable tourism.
  5. Unsustainable Tourism: In a bid to revive the local and national economy the tourism industry has allowed a lot of negative impacts of visitors and international as well as local tourists to degrade the environment. This has not only caused problems for locals living there, but also resulted in diminishing and negatively effecting the aesthetic of the areas, pollution, particularly plastic pollution and general littering. This in turn also effects the local flora and fauna and contributes to the above mentioned loss of biodiversity via habitat degradation and pollution.
    Check out: Urgency of Climate Justice for Mountain Communities of Pakistan
  6. Irregular Monsoons: precipitation rates have not just been fluctuating but they are also resulting in increased and sudden flash flood occurrence and intense flooding in many regions in the past couple of years. Just last year the devastating floods that made headlines had resulted in uncountable deaths, affected 33 million people and the displacement, loss of property and livelihoods of 8 million people making it the largest internal displacement caused by disaster in the last ten years of the world. Even the seasons are being delayed in their arrival or leaving times. This as a result effects migratory and breeding patterns of the animals and birds.
    Check out: Effects of Climate Change on Monsoon Season of Pakistan
  7. Water and Food Insecurity: Karachi is already suffering from water shortages in many lower suburban neighborhoods. Thal and Thar regions in Sindh are also suffering from water scarcity and droughts. Due to the recent floods as well as last year’s monsoon floods, there hasn’t been much land at all that is left cultivable so the agricultural needs are not being met due to the farmers being displaced and lost their lands to flood water still standing over many areas. As a result, this has lead to food shortages like wheat and flour, rice, many vegetables and fruits are also scarce from time to time due to these disasters.
    Check out: Food Security and Climate Change in Pakistan
    Also see: Climate Change Causing Rice Crop Yield Reduction In Pakistan
  8. Pollution: Lahore is frequently among the top most polluted cities in the world due to smog but it is also not far behind in terms of the poor quality of its water. It is just not Lahore though, many regions in various cities of Pakistan use industrial waste water contaminated water for their drinking and cleaning purposes as a result they suffer from various serious health problems and diseases that can be life threatening. The large landfills and waste generated from municipal and industrial solid waste is also a huge problem as they sit on huge overfilled landfills which reek and contaminate the surrounding air. Not to mention it also contributes to air-borne diseases and respiratory issues. Again, these issues are mainly faced by the lower class population however the upper class folks also cannot completely escape it which is why this matter of increasing levels of pollution, including transboundary pollution is very serious.

    Check out: Impacts of Transboundary Pollution on Pakistan

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