Did climate change cause the floods in Pakistan?

Unless you have been using Ramadan to hibernate, there is no way that you have missed the terrible news of the catastrophic floods in Pakistan.  According to the latest reports 1,600 are believed to be dead, making it worse than the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, 2005 Kashmir earthquake, 2008 Cyclone Nargis disaster in Burma, and the recent earthquake in Haiti –  combined. Whilst the efforts to help and support the victims are still in full swing, others are now asking: what caused the horrendous floods in the first place?

Experts have been pointing to various issues such as deforestation and intensive land-use practices but the top U.N. and Pakistani government officials are now saying that climate change as the principal culprit. During an aid appeal Pakistan’s foreign minister, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi remarked:

“Climate change, with all its severity and unpredictability, has become a reality for 170 million Pakistanis… The present situation in Pakistan reconfirms our extreme vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also been warning of the adverse effects of climate change, “Ultimately, we must recognize that climate change will bring more incidents of extreme weather; that is why we must invest more in reducing the risk of future disasters.”

A pinch of caution is probably a good ideas since climate scientists and even some environmental activists have become more cautious about attributing natural disasters to man-made climate change, and the fact that the relationship between greenhouse gases and floods isn’t fully understood.

However many have remarked that the heavier than usual rains which flooded the Indus river causing the floods, were triggered by the rising temperature of the Indian Ocean. Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu of Turkey, the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has also linked the event to global warming:

We have to act instantly and decide on the best way forward to support Pakistan which has been struck by the effects of global warming and climate change. Indeed, the Islamic World is paying a heavy price, resulting from the negative repercussions of climate change.”

Image via Pakistan Meterological Department

Sources:

Nathanial Gronewold, Pakistan — a Sad New Benchmark in Climate-Related Disasters, 18 August 2010, New York Times

Nick Sundt, Pakistan Floods “a Case Study of a Climate Disaster” Showing Need to Slow Climate Change, Prepare for Impacts, 19 August 2010, WWF Blog

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Dan
    Sep 06, 2010 @ 00:38:58

    There are a list of articles making a vital connection at:

    Meat Eating and Global Warming
    http://www.ivu.org/members/globalwarming.html

    Reply

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