Pakistan floods prompt discussion around worsening effects of climate change


Used with permission from Ali Hyder Junejo/Flickr

The cities of Sindh in Pakistan flood in 2022. Monsoon rains and melting glaciers caused the flooding.

Sophia Bassi, News Editor: Online

In June, a monsoon incited extreme flooding in Pakistan. The flooding has left one-third of the country underwater, destroying infrastructure, houses and agricultural land, according to The Guardian.

Currently, 1,400 individuals in Pakistan have been killed, and millions more have been affected, per The Guardian. Many hospitals have been overwhelmed and the population faces famine after crops have been wiped out as well as an increased spread of disease. The flooding has ultimately caused economic damages of $30 billion to the country, per The Guardian.

Social Studies Teacher Sana Shafqat, who visited Karachi amid the flooding, said she experienced the monsoon rains. Shafqat said the monsoons have had an immense impact on Pakistan, especially because the country’s infrastructure is not equipped to handle the effects.

“The scale of the destruction is quite unimaginable,” she said. “I think people just don’t realize how devastating it is for the people in Pakistan.”

The scale of the destruction is quite unimaginable. I think people just don’t realize how devastating it is for the people in Pakistan.

— Social Studies Teacher Sana Shafqat

Shafqat said the flooding will have the “long-term effect of people’s livelihoods being destroyed.” In particular, she said food scarcity is a major issue following the floods as livestock has drowned and farmland will be unusable for many years.

Likewise, Zain Rafiq (’24) said the reconstruction of people’s lives will be extremely challenging due to the mass destruction.

“Since there is so much destruction in the rural areas, the people who are alive after the floods won’t really have too much to go back to because their houses, places of work and schools are going to be destroyed,” he said. “It’s going to be the reconstruction that’s the really big problem.”

According to the BBC, Pakistan received 390.7 millimeters of rain from June to August, and the heavy rainfall is attributed to worsening climate change. Increasing temperatures have intensified monsoon rain and melted Pakistan’s northern region glaciers.

Dylan Linton (’23), who is Co-President of the Sustainability Council, said the floods show the harmful effects of climate change and disprove the notion that its effects have not yet reached anyone.

“The flooding is a symbol of how dangerous the effects of climate change are getting and how serious the issue has become,” he said. “I think there’s this mentality in the world that climate change is such a faraway issue, but it’s obvious that the effects of climate change are happening right now.”

Furthermore, Rafiq said climate catastrophes will continue to occur globally if climate change is not addressed.

“If climate change continues on the bad path that it is going on, all throughout the world there are going to be more extreme weather events becoming much more common,” he said. “It’s very important to try limiting climate change to prevent more events like the monsoons this year from happening.”

Linton said the floods in Pakistan show how developing nations are disproportionately affected by global issues.

“These countries that don’t contribute as much to the climate crisis are the ones that are being affected,” he said. “Meanwhile, countries who are contributing the most to the disaster have not felt the same effects yet.”

I think there’s this mentality in the world that climate change is such a faraway issue, but it’s obvious that the effects of climate change are happening right now.

— Dylan Linton (’23)

After Pakistan’s Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman stated Pakistan did not have sufficient funds for flood recovery, the UN raised its aid appeal from $160 million to $816 million. However, according to Reuters, the UN has only collected $90 million.

Linton said while donating money will be helpful for Pakistan, the floods have ultimately caused more damage than can be fixed. He said the best course of action is to “fight climate change in order to prevent further damage and catastrophes.”

Meanwhile, Shafqat said the countries that have contributed most to climate change should provide Pakistan with reparations.

“The countries that have emitted much more and caused a lot of the problems that the world is facing ecologically really need to provide those reparations,” she said. “Either there should be debt relief or reparations given for rebuilding infrastructure and people’s lives.”

Shafqat said although it is unfair that the countries contributing the least to climate change are experiencing the strongest effects, it is important for the world to collectively address the issue.

“This is not an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ issue,” she said. “It really is the human race and this planet that we live in, and we should help each other. The help should not just be in rebuilding, but also investing in renewable energy globally and making sure that emissions really, truly come down.”