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This article was originally submitted by Abdullah Masood
Pakistan is the 7th most vulnerable country to climate change. We as a nation have so many problems that we aren’t as bothered by the threat of climate change as we should be. The world is moving towards a scary future as a mass extinction is on its way.
As a child, I remember reading about climate change at school. and how being taught about the problems the planet is facing made me and my class fellows somewhat anxious. Within a couple of years, I’ve observed the changing pattern of weather.
Pakistan has seen problems like extreme weather events like floods, rising temperatures, heatwaves, deforestation, and this disaster is happening worldwide.
In recent memory, Greta Thunberg felt like a glimmer of hope in the darkness. But it feels the world was awoken from deep sleep temporarily and has begun to dose off again. Young people like Greta feel pressure about the future about this planet. But it feels like a matter of time when, like the older generations, the realities of the world will start to desensitize the emotions of the youth.
The privileged don’t care that much as they won’t suffer like the unprivileged. But for now, climate change has induced anxiety among young people. Our individual, seemingly harmless actions have collectively disastrous implications. People are reluctant to change these habits because of lack of awareness. However, the people who do take small steps get disheartened when they don’t see a broader difference in the world.
In Pakistan, the single-use plastic ban was only implemented on paper. The 55 billion single-use plastic bag consuming nation has no idea what damage it is doing to the planet. While countries are passing laws to ban deforestation, have zero carbon footprints and passed laws to curb sing use plastic years ago Pakistan seems behind the world’s time.
American lawmakers have started debating for the Green New Deal which is a manifesto on how to make the country environmentally friendly.
The plan chalks down everything in crisp details and debates have already begun. But ignorance is also present in America where a few climate-change deniers have risen up that call climate change a conspiracy. Although the Pakistani government might currently have other priorities, citizens have started their own struggle for a greener future.
Pakistan has many new startups that are making environmentally friendly products. Many environmental conservation organizations and movements have also sprouted. Many people are becoming patrons of the planet just out of empathy.
Shahzad Qureshi, founder of Urban Forest took the initiative to build a small forest inside the metropolitan city of Karachi after seeing a deadly heatwave in his city. Climate march was a recent march organized throughout Pakistan.
A local branch of Extinction Rebellion; a global environmental movement with the stated aim of using nonviolent civil disobedience to compel government action to avoid tipping points in the climate system, biodiversity loss, and the risk of social and ecological collapse; has also begun working on activism.
I had a discussion with the founders of Sabz Stance, a nascent environmental conservation organization.
They expressed the same sentiments; Pakistan is a country where the people face many other problems that overshadow the problem of climate change and the future implications we would face if we keep polluting the planet.
Co-founder Saif Ul Haq remarked that it is unimaginable to think about Pakistani citizens to start demanding a plan similar to the Green New Deal at present. There is a dire need to raise awareness and educate the masses. Right now, the current government has taken steps like planning a ban on single-use plastics and forestation initiatives. Nonetheless, these actions should be applauded. After all, the current government is the first government that had a climate change portion in its manifesto.
It is said that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the second-best time is today. Pakistan is moving in the right direction albeit slower than the developed world. It is better to be late than never arrive. In terms of social initiatives and entrepreneurship, we must start our journey regardless of whether the government is supportive or not.
Though the same government has its fair share of disappointments. The recent poor air quality of Lahore caused the minister for climate change to gaslight citizens by posting a watered-down version of the Air quality index and its interpretation. As if citizens of poor countries can bear more harmful air.
She did not satisfy people that questioned her antics and later tried to shift the blame on India for the smog.
When she was proven wrong once again she deemed that climate change was fake news. Such attitudes of government officials have upset citizens that are rooting for the representatives to help the planet.
Businesses related to environmental conservation are expected to bloom in the coming years. Many organizations are stressing on environmental conservation in their Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. There is a huge gap is the market willing to be filled by novel ways to conserve the environment.
The interest of millennials and Generation Z is inspiring. While the corporations get away with most of the dirty work they do in terms of increasing pollution and creating problems. The days of big corporations getting away damaging the environment seem to be numbered.
Similarly, people are starting to lose interest rapidly in fashion brands that make clothes and have a small life span. The recent demand and social climate have caused a few of these corporations to rethink how they work and lessen their carbon emission.
If the 18th century was the era of the industrial revolution; the 21st century seems to be the era of healing the damage that has been done since then.
It is a monumental time and the planet seems to be at crossroads of whether we succeed or fail. As for Pakistan, I wish that the awareness and education about climate change are mandated on school level. Our future depends on taking such measures as soon as possible.
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