Environs; what Karachites can do to deter Climate Change

by M. Wasim

A recent report titled “Drivers of Climate Change Vulnerability at Different Scales in Karachi” states that ongoing Climate Change would have profound impacts on Karachi’ urban infrastructure system, environment and ecosystem services, and therefore on its population and economy.  Climate Change is the rise of average surface temperature on planet Earth due to emission of greenhouse gases and affecting the ecosystem, including rising sea levels, severe weather events, and droughts that render landscapes more susceptible to wildfires.

However, when we envision and signify it with the environs we live in it, the subsequent changes do not  allow us to remain optimistic. Just take an example the heat-wave event in June 2015 in Karachi that took more than 1200 human lives was nothing but an offshoot of Climate Change. A Technical Report on Karachi Heat wave June 2015, prepared by Ministry of Climate Change under Dr. Qamar uz Zaman Choudhry identifies the “Urban Heat Island Effect” (UHI) as one of the major causes of the crisis, which worsened the heat wave condition. The UHI is a phenomenon whereby the condition of structures and waste heat from human activity results in warmer envelope of air over city.  

Land use violation leading to encroachments of parks and playgrounds, eroding of coastal sensitive ecological land and unsustainable lifestyle in the city all are contributors in this regard. That impacted the less green space and infrastructure therefore “significantly contributed to the blistering heat wave and large number of casualties in Karachi” the report states.

Around the world various states’ organisations and environ agencies are devising and implementing strategies to reduce the adverse impacts of Climate Change. But what a single person can do and contribute at individual level is perhaps the most significant aspect to do away the horrors of this adversity.  

1. Adopt a sustainable life style. It means meeting your current needs without having a negative impacts on the needs of future generations.
2. Plantation and flower pots at home are essential. The Climate Change report in fact identifies Green roofs as a method of decreasing the Urban Heat Island. Green roof is the practice having vegetation plantation on a roof. These plants on the roof increase the albedo and decrease the UHI effect.
3. Buy organic and locally grown foods. Avoid processed items. Grow some of your own vegetables and fruits. And also reduce the intake of red meat as 18% of greenhouse gas emissions come from meat and dairy production.
4. When going shopping, make it a habit to bring your own eco-bags and say no to plastic bags as much as possible.
5. Reduce emissions from cars by walking or cycling. These are not just great alternatives to driving, but also great exercise.
6. Keep unnecessary lights switched off  and change light bulbs to compact fluorescents or LEDs. Unplug computers, TVs and other electronics when not in use. Wash clothes in cold or warm (not hot) water. Dryers are energy hogs, so hang dry when you can.
7. When affordable, switch to a greener energy provider or, if possible, purchase solar or wind power for your home.
8. Garbage buried in landfills produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Keep stuff out of landfills by composting kitchen scraps and garden trimmings, and recycling paper, plastic, metal and glass.
9. Be water wise. Conserve water by taking shorter shower, fixing leaky toilets and choosing low-flow and low-water appliance options. 
10. Do not pour chemicals, waste oil and plastic bags on to the ground or into drains, that affects the sewage and underground utilities. 

Editorial, Infocus.


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