May 2020



 Qurban Ali Khushik May 27, 2020

DADU: People here experienced the hottest day of the season on Tuesday as mercury rose to 51 degrees Celsius, affecting 15 women and men, and 20 children who were admitted to the Civil Hospital of Dadu.

It was due to the sweltering heat that major parts of the bazaars, roads and streets presented a deserted look in Dadu city after lunchtime from 12 noon to 5pm.

Civil Surgeon Dr Abdul Hameed Meerani said that a heatstroke centre was established at the civil hospital where drips and other medicines were made available for attending the people affected by the heatstroke.

Children ward in-charge specialist Dr Allah Bux Korejo said that owing to the extremely hot weather, the number of children suffering from gastroenteritis had increased.

He said that on Tuesday, 20 children were brought to the hospital and the number would increase day by day. He advised parents not to allow children to go out from homes in the scorching heat. Children should use fresh food, cold water and ORS in daytime, he added.

Dadu district health officer (DHO) Dr Zahid Hussain Dawachh said that from noon till evening people should remain indoors and use ORS and water. To facilitate treatment, heatstroke centres were established at the civil hospital of Dadu and taluka hospitals at KN Shah, Mehar and Johi.

Vehicular traffic also remained thin at Dadu-Johi, Dadu-Moro, Dadu-KN Shah and Dadu-Sehwan roads due to increasing sweltering heat in the district. People rushed to Dadu canal near the city for swimming to beat the heat.

Citizens demanded from the Dadu district and taluka administrations to establish water tanks/sabeels at different places in the city for supplying cold drinking water to protect people running their daily errands.

Social activist Dr Aftab Ahmed Bhand also distributed water coolers, ORS and juice packets among poor communities in the city.

Dr Bhand advised the rich and notables of the area to look after poorest families and support by supplying ORS, water coolers and other necessary items to them.

However, it was reported that because of heatstroke, major parts of Sehwan, Bhan Syedabad city also gave a deserted look after lunchtime till 5pm.

Jamshoro Deputy Commi­ssioner (DC) Fareeduddin Mustafa has directed the administrations of hospitals in Sehwan, Sann, Manjhand, Jamshoro, Kotri and Nooriabad and Thana Bula Khan to establish heatstroke centres to facilitate treatment of people.

Dadu DC Shahzaman Khuhro also has directed the municipal administrations of Dadu, Johi, KN Shah and Mehar to supply cold water to citizens through establishing sabeels.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2020



May 21, 2020

PARIS: Parts of the Antarctic Peninsula will change colour as “green snow” caused by blooming algae is expected to spread with increases in global temperatures, research showed on Wednesday.

Although often considered devoid of plant life, Antarctica is home to several types of algae, which grow on slushy snow and suck carbon dioxide from the air.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey combined satellite imagery with on-the-ground observations to detect the current extent of green algae in the world’s most barren continent.

They identified more than 1,600 separate green algae blooms on snow across the peninsula, with a combined surface area of 1.9 square kilometres.

“Even though the numbers are relatively small on a global scale, in Antarctica where you have such a small amount of plant life, that amount of biomass is highly significant,” Matt Davey from Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences, told AFP.

“A lot of people think Antarctica is just snow and penguins. In fact when you look around the fringe there is a lot of plant life.”

The team calculated that algae on the peninsula currently absorb levels of CO2 equivalent to 875,000 average car journeys.

They also found that the majority of algae blooms were within five kilometres (three miles) of a penguin colony, as the birds’ excrement is an

The polar regions are warming far faster than other parts of the planet and the team predicted that low-lying coastal areas of Antarctica would soon be free from algae as they experience snow-free summers.

But that loss will probably be offset by a preponderance of large algae blooms as temperatures rise and snow at higher altitudes softens.

“As Antarctica continues to warm on small low-lying islands, at some point you will stop getting snow coverings on those in the summer,” said Andrew Gray, lead author and researcher at the University of Cambridge and NERC Field Spectroscopy Facility, Edinburgh.

“Conversely, in the north of the peninsula we saw some really large blooms and we hypothesise that we are likely to see more of these larger blooms.”

Gray told AFP that the green snow blooms on higher ground would “more than offset” the effect of sea-level algae losses.

While more algae means more CO2 is absorbed, the plants could have a small but adverse impact on local albedo — how much of the Sun’s heat is reflected back from Earth’s surface.

Whereas white snow reflects 80 percent of radiation that hits it, for green snow that figure is closer to 45 percent.

The team however said the reduced albedo is unlikely to impact Antarctica’s climate on any meaningful scale.

“There will be more carbon locked up in future just because you need snow to be in a slushier state for algae to bloom,” said Evans.

“We expect there to be more suitable habitat and overall more carbon sequestration.”



Hasban ullah May 17, 2020

KHAR: Heavy rains coupled with hailstorm destroyed standing wheat crops, vegetable and fruit orchards in various areas in Bajaur district on Saturday.

Locals said that torrential rain and hailstorm started at midday that lashed different areas of Mamond, Salarzai and other tehsils of the district. They said the hailstorm and heavy rains destroyed crops, vegetables and fruits on a vast swath of land in the district, causing huge losses to the farmers. Farmers in Barkhalozo and other areas including Muhammad Khan, Wasif Jan and others said that they had suffered heavy losses as their standing crops were completely destroyed by the rain and hailstorm. The growers demanded the government to provide them with a financial package as recent hailstorm had severely damaged their wheat, vegetable and fruit orchards. They asked the government to immediately conduct a survey of the affected areas and provide relief to farmers as soon as possible. At present, the wheat crop is ready in the district along with various varieties of vegetables that were too affected due to hailstorm.



Ali Tauqeer Sheikh May 09, 2020

THE stimulus packages promised by the federal and provincial governments will certainly offer an important and immediate reprieve in these times, but will have very limited utility in putting the economy on track for inclusive and sustainable development. They will hardly help us ‘build back fast’, let alone ‘build back better’. Pakistan’s stimulus packages need to suit a sluggish economy that is constantly under siege from climate change-induced disasters.

The same politicians who failed the world in the climate crisis are now failing us in this pandemic. Their denialism, rooted in anti-science convictions and political expediencies, has already led to many unnecessary deaths from the virus and brought global temperatures to a perilous junction.

President Trump’s impatience to reopen the economy is rooted in the American economic system and his electoral considerations. The biggest stimulus package in human history by the US administration, valued at more than $2.2 trillion, is primarily geared towards avoiding individual and corporate bankruptcies rather than building a climate-smart economy, which promotes green jobs, renewable energy, and transitions to climate-resilient social and physical infrastructure. Far from drawing lessons from the New Deal of the 1930s, or adapting ideas from the Green New Deal that many Democrats have pushed to become an election agenda, the CARES Act has failed to include any climate provisions. In fact, President Trump has succeeded in keeping a tight lid on any aspirations to bring environment and climate concerns into the relief package. The biggest recipients will be the most polluting big businesses such as the airline and fossil fuel industries, but without any quid pro quo to cut their emissions.

Ironically, the most pollution-heavy industries have contributed the most towards weakening immune systems. The fossil fuel industry, for example, has literally made the pandemic deadlier for the poor, who are more susceptible to disease. Likewise, populations bearing the heaviest burden of the pandemic’s health and economic effects are the same as those bearing the brunt of fossil fuel pollution.

The pandemic has highlighted how inseparably linked the climate and pandemic crises are.

The pandemic has highlighted how intrinsically and inseparably linked the climate and pandemic crises are. Clearly, an important lesson to learn from the pandemic is that there is a global failure in planning and readiness for managing a known risk. Covid-19 has highlighted the need for climate resilience, environmental justice and social equity in no less categorical terms than the climate crisis.

Regrettably, it is people of colour and migrant communities — that have emerged as front-line communities — who are getting infected in disproportionately higher numbers in the US, UK and Europe. Their counterparts in Pakistan are people living in katchi abadis and unplanned settlements. Those who are most likely to die from Covid-19 are the same as those who are most likely to lose their lives to polluted water or toxic air.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has recently enunciated some principles to guide and inform the stimulus packages: taxpayers’ money should not be given to rescue polluting industries or to subsidise fossil fuel industries, but instead to rescue businesses that can create new jobs and enterprises through a clean and green transition based on decarbonisation of the economy, and to shift fiscal power from grey to green to increase resilience of people and communities in a way that is fair and leaves no one behind.

In Pakistan, nothing spreads disease more than the polluted water we drink. Nothing results in early deaths more than the toxic air that we breathe. Nothing weakens our immune systems more than malnutrition and stunting, and nothing makes us more vulnerable to pandemics and climate change than our population density, poor housing and unplanned neighbourhoods sans schools, hospitals or parks.

The abiding principle in designing the stimulus package has to address climate injustice and reach out to our sprawling slums, congested neighbourhoods, and the formal and informal labourers who are, for the most part, internal environmental refugees. Migration to urban areas is an adaptation strategy for most, leaving behind women, children and the elderly in degraded environments and in non-productive local economies in search of livelihoods. The urban poor’s vulnerability is much more acute because they leave social capital behind in their rural neighbourhoods.

It is therefore critical that the stimulus packages are designed to pump financial support in local economies and create livelihood options for the poor in their own settings. Corner shops in communities are the backbone of our local economy. Let’s not sidestep them by providing ration bags that break their social capital networks and injure their dignity. This is not the time to have Alibaba or Amazon replace our corner shops. We have the technological capacity and experience of disbursing billions of rupees in Swat’s economy while dealing with the IDP crisis. Let’s build upon such success stories rather than opening the floodgates of mistrust and corruption with illusive ration bags, controversial Utility Stores or by testing the limits of income support programmes.

This is the time for our policymakers to set the direction for future development strategies while defining the contours of the package. The response to the pandemic could also inform efforts to cut emissions, control effluents, and protect water, forests and other natural resources. The package should be designed to address connected issues in a way that serves the most vulnerable while building a more just and sustainable economy. Addressing climate change does not have to slow down economic recovery.

Linear thinking in stimulus packages is too inefficient for our limited financial resources. An economy that will contract to about two per cent in FY21 and lose output by about 5pc of GDP cannot expect to turnaround with linear thinking. The government should commit a stimulus of about 3pc of GDP of new and additional finances. We will need a three-year climate smart stimulus to annually transfer 3pc of GDP to serve less privileged communities in order to create green jobs, green start-ups and green businesses for climate-resilient and low-carbon products and services.

The writer is an Islamabad-based expert on climate change and development.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2020


AFP Updated May 09, 2020

PARIS: Oceans are likely to rise as much as 1.3 metres by 2100 if Earth’s surface warms another 3.5 degrees Celsius, scientists warned on Friday.

By 2300, when ice sheets covering West Antarctica and Greenland will have shed trillions of tonnes in mass, sea levels could go up by more than five metres under that temperature scenario, redrawing the planet’s coastlines, they reported in a peer-reviewed survey of more than 100 leading experts.

About ten percent of the world’s population, or 770 million people, today live on land less than five metres above the high tide line.

Even if the Paris climate treaty goal of capping global warming below 2C is met — a very big “if” — the ocean watermark could go up two metres by 2300, according to a study in the journal Climate Atmos­pheric Science.

Earth’s average surface temperature has risen just over one degree Celsius since the pre-industrial era, a widely used benchmark for measuring global warming.

“It is clear now that previous sea-level rise estimates have been too low,” co-author Stefan Rahmstorf, head of Earth system analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), said.

The new projections for both the 2100 and 2300 horizons are significantly higher than those from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), including a special report on oceans it released in September.

“The IPCC tends to be very cautious and conservative, which is why it had to correct itself upwards already several times,” Rahmstorf said.

Sea-level projections in the IPCC’s landmark 2014 Assessment Report were 60 percent above those in the previous edition, he noted. A new Assessment will be fina­lised by the end of next year.

While less visible than climate-enhanced hurricanes or persistent drought, sea level rise may ultimately prove the most devastating of global warming impacts.

Indeed, it is the extra centimetres of ocean water that make storm surges from ever-stronger tropical cycl­ones so much more deadly and destructive, experts say.

Benjamin Horton, acting chair of the Nanyang Technical University’s Asian School of the Environment in Singapore, led the survey to give “policymakers an overview of the state of the science”,a statement said.

Across the 20th century, sea level rise was caused mainly by melting glaciers and the expansion of ocean water as it warms.

But over the last two decades the main driver has become the melting and disintegrating of Earth’s two ice sheets. Greenland and West Antarctica are shedding at least six times more ice today than during the 1990s. From 1992 through 2017 they lost some 6.4 trillion tonnes in mass.

Over the last decade, the sea level has gone up about four millimetres per year. Moving into the 22nd century, however, the waterline could rise ten times faster, even under an optimistic greenhouse gas emissions scenario, the IPCC has said.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2020