Pakistan has suffered extreme environmental degradation via urbanisation, overpopulation and deforestation. According to the Pakistan Economic Survey 2013-14, sprawling growth of cities, increased population growth and poverty is having an eloquent burden on the environment.

By Muhammad Ibrahim Noon

Reports claim that environmental dilapidation can cause a loss of PKR 365 billion every year and hence, it can even deteriorate the economy!

Climate change primarily is global warming caused by emission of greenhouse gases via human activity and is responsible for the large-scale alterations in the weather pattern. Human activity burns fossil fuels to produce energy which releases carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This greenhouse gas traps heat energy from the sun causing a greenhouse effect. Climatic scientists highlight that Pakistan is particularly susceptible to climate change impacts because of its topography, insufficient technology and resources and overpopulation. The survey suggests that climatic change can adversely affect water resources, health, biodiversity, energy and even agricultural productivity.

Worsening Environmental conditions cause certain environmental problems which stimuluses the life of individuals of the society. Pakistan is inclined to different forms of natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and cyclones. According to a disaster management report, the provinces of Gilgit Baltistan, Baluchistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir are more vulnerable to natural disasters as compared to Punjab and Sindh which are low-lying areas. On the report of Jawad Memon (a climate expert), the Arabian Sea has been heating up with the average surface temperature rising from 29-31 degree Celsius in a period of just two years. Not only does this push the sea into coastal areas but it also harms the people’s livelihood as is happening in the Indus Delta. Furthermore, condensation of air along with pollutants can lead to a formation of a Photochemical smog which is the mixture of fog and smoke. When inhaled, it is capable of increasing risk of heart and lung diseases.

Pollution is a very serious and escalating issue faced by countries nowadays. According to an international study, 92% of all pollution deaths are in middle income countries like Pakistan, India and China. Pollution in all of its types: air pollution, water pollution and noise pollution is responsible for deteriorating the environment. Air pollution occurs when the concentration of harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, ozone, oxides of nitrogen and oxides of sulphur. Air pollution is caused via vehicle emissions, industries, agricultural activities and natural causes. It is accountable for certain respiratory and heart diseases. Water pollution occurs due to disposal of domestic and industrial wastes. According to IMF (International Monetary Fund), Pakistan is ranked third at third number in the list of countries facing water shortage. Moreover, most of the water available is not clean i.e. it is polluted by waste discharge. Consequently, there is improper sanitation and waste dumping leading to poor hygiene and public health. Noise pollution is another serious concern that is painful and irritating. According to a recent report from World Health Organization, noise levels above 70db are painful and irritating whereas the average noise levels in Karachi and Peshawar are 76.5db and 96db, respectively.

The PTI government have initiated several conservational efforts to address the deteriorating environment which had been a much neglected sector in Pakistan. They have launched “Clean Green Champion Programme”, “The Billion Tree Tsunami” and “Natural Conservation Strategy” all brought about to improve the environmental conditions in Pakistan. Thus, if the programmes are carried out efficiently, it will not only prevent environmental degradation but it also improves the economy and can help Pakistan to save up to PKR 365 billion annually!