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Media and Communication Officer Indus Consortium

Tone Down the Heat

In dealing with climate change we need to take the heat out of our cities:

Renewable energy sources, energy efficient design, fossil fuel purification, electric vehicles and carbon reduction are all necessary measures when talking about environmental sustainability.

However, these measures are all focused on reducing greenhouse gas concentrations. They do nothing to address the massive amount of heat stored in, and emitted from, our urbanized lifestyles.  This nefarious process occurs in every city on the planet – inevitably impacting on regional climates and subsequently on the global climate. But solutions to it have largely been absent from conversations about climate change.

If we can figure out how to remove this thermal pollution, then the climate-changing toxicity of greenhouse gases is rendered relatively innocuous.

Huge concentrations of these gases are already replete in the atmosphere and are very long-lived. So even if we miraculously stopped emitting all thermally sensitive gases, the global climate will continue to warm and be increasingly disrupted for at least the next 100 years.

Get the heat out

The only reasonable and timely remedy is to take the heat out of the equation.

A range of challenging consequences emerge from not moderating thermal pollution. Hundreds of thousands of massive hotspots are generated in the global climate system with extreme urban-climate weather events visited upon cities. Excess heat also impacts negatively on the general health, wellbeing and comfort of citizens. It is lack of relief at night, rather than high daytime temperatures, that puts people at most risk from heat stress.

Moreover, a significant quantity of fossil-fuelled energy is expended to cool buildings and vehicles to mitigate the negative effects of this thermal effect.

The major culprit in this thermal pollution equation is the “designed environment” – or the way a city is built.

In principle, medium-density, mid-rise cities with good sky-views set on narrow labyrinth street grids that shade and ventilate more naturally, help moderate heat excess. Massive high-rise canyon-cities, set on wide, dark, right-angle roads and concrete sidewalks, excessively trap and emit heat.

Whatever the form of a particular setting, there are hundreds of elements in the designed environment that are involved, each absorbing and emitting heat, in a never-ending cycle, from dawn to dusk to dawn.

You can download a study conducted in Victoria Park, Sydney using an infra-red thermal camera, rendering these otherwise invisible elements visible, here [The link will download it]: https://cityfutures.be.unsw.edu.au/documents/36/Final_Report_Hassell.pdf

The principle is simple. When the atmosphere is warmer than the elements in the designed environment, they absorb some of that warmth. When they are radiating at higher temperatures than the ambient air, they transfer some of their heat to it. From the measured infrared imagery from a study in Sydney, you can see the differences between elements and their maximum and minimum temperatures over 24-hours.

Water Crisis in Pakistan

Pakistan could “run dry” by 2025 as its water shortage is reaching an alarming level. The authorities remain negligent about the crisis that’s posing a serious threat to the country’s stability, DW reports.

According to a recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan ranks third in the world among countries facing acute water shortage. Reports by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) also warn the authorities that the South Asian country will reach absolute water scarcity by 2025. “No person in Pakistan, whether from the north with its more than 5,000 glaciers, or from the south with its ‘hyper deserts,’ will be immune to this scarcity,” said Neil Buhne, UN humanitarian coordinator for Pakistan

Dancing around the fire is not the solution to any problem. One should try to see beneath the surface in order and to grasp an idea about the basic issue. Despite a stream of strong words and announcements made by the previous governments of Pakistan, nothing has been done properly in order to counter the water crisis in the country. Rather the situation has taken a quantum leap for the worse.

Water is a source of life but unfortunately, Pakistan is in the grip of its scarcity, which has disturbed the whole national life. The aggravating crisis is gnawing at the public mind and, regrettably, it has considerably contributed towards straining national harmony and there are no sings of tiding over this grim situation.

With the gradual depletion of water resources, the precarious situation is further embittered by the shortage of rainfall which is so essential for the agriculture sector. This deteriorating state has accentuated the feelings of deprivation among the smaller provinces. Exploiting the situation the hard liners in the areas have embarked on lashing Punjab with a heavy stick for its alleged neglect in resolving the share of water and usurping their share.

Pakistan, according to experts, is going through the worst water shortage of history. The current drought in Sindh and Baluchistan has shattered the economy as well as agriculture of the country. Back in fifties, Quetta was considered Pakistan’s prime orchard, which provided fruit for the country and for export as well. However now many growi9ng areas are in critical situation, threatened by over use of ground water and natural droughts.

he direct impacts of water crises in Pakistan have reduced crop, range land, forest productivity and water level. On the other hand, it has increased livestock, wildlife and human beings mortality rates and damaged the wildlife and fish habitats. Direct or primary impacts becomes so diffuse that it’s very difficult to come up with financial estimates of damages.

There are also some social impacts of water crisis in Pakistan, which have mainly involved public safety, health problems, and conflicts between the provinces over water usage. It has also reduced the quality of life.

Environmental losses in Pakistan are the result of damages to plant and animal species, wildlife, air and water quality, degradation of landscape quality, the loss of biodiversity and the social erosion, caused by the drought.

the demography of Pakistan has also changed due to migration of affected population to the already over populated cities. It may increase pressure on the social infrastructure of the country which may enhance poverty, social unrest and ethnicity.

Deforestation at its peak

In the past few decades, there has been an excessive dearth in the production of forest in the country. According to an estimate in 1990’s 3.3% of the total area of the country was woody, which then reduced to 2.2%by 2010 in Pakistan. Deforestation is a threat not only to humans but also to animals, birds and reptiles as forests are the habitats for millions of species.

Pakistan has almost 1029 known species of all animals, while 3.5 of these are endemic (which exist in no other country). It means they all are being endangered gradually or to be extinct soon.

Along with being a sign of danger foe these species, deforestation causes an increase in temperature as the scarcity of forest means larger amount of greenhouse gases enter in the atmosphere, hence result in the increased severity of global warming.

Increased temperature is the biggest reason of melting of glaciers in Pakistan. Pakistan is a home of more than 5000 glaciers, which feeds Indus River in summers and monsoon. In 2013, Federal Minister of Science & Technology, Zahid Hamid, stated that glaciers in Pakistan were continuously melting because of rising temperature, and by the year 2035, the country will not have reserve of water in shape of glaciers. These continuously melting glaciers result in the formation of glacier lakes, which outburst flood.

Likewise, the increasing temperature affects human and other living organism. As the ozone layer around the earth that is getting weaker and weaker due to greenhouse gases is not further effective to stop dangerous sun radiations coming to the earth. As a result, these radiations cause fatal diseases while reacting to human skin like skin cancer. It is extremely necessary to take stand against illegal woodcutters, to have good figures regarding forestry in Pakistan, for our near most future. Both governmental and non-governmental organizations need to be active regarding forestation and environmental care.

Killing the Lungs of Deforestation

The climate crisis and the deforestation crisis are deeply interlinked. Simply put, one cannot be solved without addressing the other.

Forests cover 31% of the land area on our planet. They produce vital oxygen and provide homes for people and wildlife. Many of the world’s most threatened and endangered animals live in forests, and 1.6 billion people rely on benefits forests offer, including food, fresh water, clothing, traditional medicine and shelter. Forests also play a critical role in mitigating climate change because they act as a carbon sink—soaking up carbon dioxide that would otherwise be free in the atmosphere and contribute to ongoing changes in climate patterns.

But forests around the world are under threat from deforestation, jeopardizing these benefits.

Deforestation comes in many forms, including fires, clear-cutting for agriculture, ranching and development, unsustainable logging for timber, and degradation due to climate change. This impacts people’s livelihoods and threatens a wide range of plant and animal species. We’re losing 18.7 million acres of forests annually, equivalent to 27 soccer fields every minute.

What Drives deforestation? 

The causes of deforestation vary from region to region, but the one important thing they have in common is us. Human activity is behind all major causes of forest destruction, whether it’s to support the industries that make products we use every day or to make space to grow our food. Here are just some of the ways business-as-usual is contributing to deforestation.