The environmental issues in Pakistan

Shaiza Kanwal

Pakistan is facing a lot of climatic and environmental issues, including Water pollution, soil erosion, and land pollution, shortage of water, global warming, air pollution and natural disasters. According to the latest global environment performance index (EPI) ranking Pakistan is in the list of countries which suffer from poor air quality. The climatic changes and global warming are most alarming issues risking millions of life across country. The major reasons of these environmental issues are carbon emission, increasing populations, and deforestation.

The global climate risk index 2018 is the index that indicates to what extent countries have been affected by weather related loss events, According to this index Pakistan is ranked 40th with 566 causalities, losing US $47.313 million (0.0048% of GDP).  The German watch report indicates that more than 524,000 people have died directly from extreme environments events, and losses from 1997-2016 are total of US $3.16 million in the country.

The unavailability of water is the main issue, according to the recent report of International monetary fund (IMF) Pakistan ranks third in the list of countries facing cute water shortages. United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) indicate that Pakistan will reach absolute scarcity by 2025. The main reason behind this water shortage is urbanization, ever-growing population, climatic changes, lack of water management and the lack of political will to deal with the issue.

The issue of water scarcity is accompanies by the acute climatic changes. In May 2015, Karachi experienced the deadly heat wave Pakistan has seen over 50 years. At least 1,200 people died during the extremely hot weather. The increased temperature is also the biggest reason of melting glaciers in Pakistan. Pakistan is the home of more than 5000 glaciers, which feeds Indus River in summer and monsoon. In 2013, Federal minister of Science and Technology, Zahid Hamid, stated that glaciers are continuously melting because of rising temperature, and by the year 2035, the country will not have reserve of water in the shape of glaciers.

Similarly, one of the biggest issues is the increasing deforestation in the country. According to a recent study, In between 1990 and 2005, Pakistan lost 24.7% of its forest cover (around 625,000 hectares). the reasons behind deforestation are energy crisis, urbanization, industrialization and domestic use. Though certain plans have been launched to increase forest cover, which includes Green Pakistan program, Billion Tree Tsunami and REDD Plus, but it definitely take years for these plants to grow and replace already cut big trees.

Another big issue is the increasing pollution. According to the international study, around 92% of all pollution related deaths are in the middle-income developing countries like Pakistan, India, China and Bangladesh. The study has found that the nine million deaths worldwide are related to pollution in 2015. The releases of toxic gases from the factories, brick kilns, and carbon emission from vehicles are main contributors of day by day increasing air pollution in the country. The air pollution causes respiratory diseases, skin infection and eye infections as well.

Another important environmental issue is the waste disposal. Our factories and hospitals dispose thousands of tons of waste in the lakes and river streams on daily basis. Similarly, the lack of proper waste management system, allocated landfills sites and negligence on local municipal corporations and public are main causes of waste dumped openly on roads and streets.

The constant growth in the population is other massive challenge.  With the passage of time, the country is growing economically but definitely it needs to shed light on the environmental factors. The quality of life and the standard of living still needed to increase. We have more money but not clean water to drink and pure air to breathe. There are many projects that are currently running in the country but we needed progress very soon.

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