Climate change is last felt by the enactors of its effects. Resulting symptoms from years of abuse of the natural system are first felt by developing nations mostly situated in South Asia and Africa. Smaller islands such as Kiribati are being digested by the ocean as a consequence of the actions we continue to choose in developed nations.
Evidence is clear-cut and divisive for no reason at all. Our human hives, collapsing through civil disorder, disease and famine fail to face reality. Instead, the temerity of our species is so, that instead of looking for alternate solutions we are hurrying the process, drowning, literally, putting one hand up to climb out of the problems we created.
Countries such as Pakistan are seeing a high death rate from high temperatures. It is a nation literally swimming in the sweat of a problem offloaded to it with summer temperatures regularly hitting between 34 and 44 Celsius. North of former capital Karachi the city of Nawabshah understands the brutality of extreme temperatures. So much so, it is driving people away from the city resulting in population declines. This outcome is of economical and safety concern. As populations reduce, need for hospitals decline resulting in closures. In a country with poor infrastructure, this can sometimes mean a trepidatious journey to the nearest facility.
The first time I stepped onto Pakistani land, my response was to the heat of the day in the month of February, and as I left in the month of March, it’s intensity transpired. Of the many uncomfortable feelings experienced, stinging sensations pulsating from within the pores of my skin and gestating beads of sweat that formed along my forehead and brow, squeezing to escape my skin were of greatest note.
It wasn’t until sometime later I discovered families across the country share a room for the relief of an air fan, abandoning their own bedrooms to utilise functions of a simple piece of technology to keep them cool. Ironically made from a process that increases emissions and global temperatures. I felt ashamed knowing this, having complained British households are absent of air conditioning systems.
So why is it so hard for us to comprehend the needs of climate change within developing nations? We all have theories I’m sure, but a colonial history, propaganda that fills cinema screens creating caricatures of people from developing nations to apathetic news stories are mostly to blame. This is no excuse. Narratives regarding afflicted countries count on popular media to help the west understand.
Within our well-kept borders of luxury salaries providing access to untold information throughout the world, we have no excuse to exclude ourselves anymore. As I write this, temperatures in the city of Nawabshah, Pakistan, peak at 44 Celsius. During monsoon season, increasing temperatures will melt glaciers of the Baltistan region to flood parts of Pakistan.
Former British Prime Minister Theresa May introduced a bill committing the United Kingdom to zero carbon emissions by 2050. And although I commend the government for taking a stand against climate change, it comes from a selfish place. Opposition parties have long campaigned for greener policy, but it took a luxury holiday to Switzerland to convince May of the facts. But the real fact is, Pakistan has experienced detrimental flooding for some time and without shock reaction. More than 2,000 people have died from flooding in Pakistan and it has caused billions of dollars worth of damage.
The severity of the problem is misunderstood by Europe because cooler climates mask the devastation triggered by climate change. Temperature changes go unnoticed because they’re minimal and we acclimatise to slight increases (in summer) and decreases (in winter) across comfortable fluctuations.
Summertime heatwaves are celebrated in Britain by a fascination with bad weather that shuns peculiar, unnatural temperatures and floods. It is a trojan horse gently plucking the habitat of which we live. Whereas South Asia’s reality is starker.
When I worked in Somalia, I felt I had seen the future. Constant droughts stifle a country of its economic activity where it is surrounded by dry landscapes, year-on-year rainfall decrease and widespread arid deserts that offer little hope for self-sustainability. I am almost certain insurgency and continued hostilities within the country are exacerbated by this. Climate change and extreme weather have pushed nations to the brink, and if we are to seek a model for how the future is to be seen, then East Africa is in no doubt an example. Somalia is in great need of climate regeneration, aswell as aid.
In Ukraine, its ongoing war is to be tested further by climate-related changes. Extreme contrasts in temperature already damage infrastructure, splitting roads in summer from low winter temperature changes. As climate change evolves, Ukraine’s already embattled government, rife with corruption will struggle to contain ever-increasing extreme weather patterns.
Instead of celebrating dramatic shifts in temperature and weather, and increasing debates of pugnacious effect, we should begin to understand the facts that affect animal habitat and agriculture. We should use them as stepping stones to comprehend the reality of those affected in applicable demographics.
What can be done to hurry along suscipions of the apathetic? Getting carbon emissions to zero will mean a sudden and unprecedented shift in energy use. Within months the world will need to switch from fossil fuels to renewables. Change we should embrace.