Climate change is not just a global crisis; it’s a pressing issue that affects regions and countries in various ways. For residents of Islamabad, Pakistan, the impacts of climate change are becoming increasingly evident, with a range of risks and threats that pose serious challenges to the region. In this blog, we’ll explore how climate change is affecting Islamabad, its most significant risks, and share some personal experiences related to these changes.
Rising Temperatures and Heatwaves
One of the most noticeable effects of climate change in Islamabad is the rise in temperatures. Summers have become hotter and more prolonged, with heatwaves becoming a common occurrence. According to the Climate change knowledge portal, the average mean annual temperature in Pakistan has been steadily increasing over the past few decades. In just 10 years the mean temperature has gone from 21.69 to 22.23. This rise in temperature not only makes daily life uncomfortable but also poses health risks, especially for vulnerable populations.
Erratic Monsoon Patterns and Flooding
Islamabad and the surrounding regions heavily rely on the monsoon season for water supply and agriculture. However, climate change has led to erratic monsoon patterns, causing heavy rainfall and flash floods during some years, while prolonged droughts occur during others. These changes are significantly affecting the agriculture sector and the availability of clean water.
The World weather attribution reports that climate change-induced flooding has become a severe concern, displacing communities, damaging infrastructure, and leading to economic losses. According to them, “Pakistan is reported to have received more than 3 times its usual rainfall in August, making it the wettest August since 1961” The frequency and intensity of these floods are on the rise, making flood preparedness and mitigation strategies a necessity for the region.
Glacial Melt and Water Scarcity
Pakistan’s water supply largely depends on the melting glaciers in the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush region. The ongoing glacial melt, attributed to rising temperatures, is leading to water scarcity in Islamabad and beyond. As glaciers continue to retreat, this vital water source is depleting, impacting not only drinking water availability but also agriculture and hydropower generation.
Urban Challenges and Air Quality
The rapidly growing urban population of Islamabad is exacerbating the effects of climate change. As the city expands, deforestation and increased construction contribute to higher emissions and reduced green spaces. This urbanization, coupled with rising temperatures, worsens air quality, leading to respiratory problems and other health issues among residents. According to a World Bank report, more than 22 600 deaths per year are caused by impacts of air pollution at the national level (Shahid et al., 1970). To combat this, city planners and policymakers must prioritize sustainable urban development, green infrastructure, and public transportation to reduce the carbon footprint and mitigate the urban heat island effect. Additionally, raising awareness about air quality and its impact on public health is crucial for fostering a sense of responsibility among the city’s inhabitants.
As a resident of Islamabad, I have witnessed the changing climate patterns firsthand. The sweltering summer heat has become more unbearable, and we often face challenges in ensuring access to clean drinking water during the dry spells. The unpredictable monsoons have made it difficult for farmers to plan their crops and maintain a steady income.
Moreover, the devastating floods in some areas have affected friends and family, displacing them from their homes and causing emotional distress. It’s evident that climate change is not a distant threat but an immediate concern for our region.
In conclusion, Islamabad, Pakistan, is facing several challenges due to climate change. Rising temperatures, erratic monsoon patterns, glacial melting, and water scarcity are just a few of the impacts that are taking a toll on the region. We must take immediate and meaningful actions to mitigate these effects and adapt to the changing climate to secure a better future for Islamabad and its residents.
Climate change likely increased extreme monsoon rainfall, flooding highly vulnerable communities in Pakistan. World Weather Attribution header. (n.d.). https://www.worldweatherattribution.org/climate-change-likely-increased-extreme-monsoon-rainfall-flooding-highly-vulnerable-communities-in-pakistan/#:~:text=Extreme%20rainfall,-Asia&text=From%20mid%2DJune%20until%20the,the%20wettest%20August%20since%201961.
Khan, M. (2019, October 31). In Pakistan, climate change is the primary threat to national security. South Asian Voices. https://southasianvoices.org/in-pakistan-climate-change-is-the-new-primary-threat-to-national-security/
Shahid, I., Chishtie, F., Bulbul, G., Shahid, M. Z., Shafique, S., & Lodhi, A. (1970, January 1). State of air quality in Twin Cities of Pakistan: Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Atmósfera. https://www.redalyc.org/journal/565/56559474008/html/#:~:text=It%20has%20fast%20population%20growth,600%20deaths%20per%20year%20are
World Bank Climate Change Knowledge Portal. Climatology | Climate Change Knowledge Portal. (n.d.). https://climateknowledgeportal.worldbank.org/country/pakistan/climate-data-historical
image: Arial view of flooding, Pakistan 2010. Photo: Australian Government