Global warming is a natural phenomenon. But the rate of global warming is accelerating by the rapid addition of Green House Gases (GHGs) as a result of burning of fossil fuels. Rising ambient temperatures, extreme floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, rising sea levels, glacial lake outbursts, droughts, deforestation and desertification are some of the manifestations of climate change due to global warming. The year 2015 has been the warmest year in the last 4000 years.

The scale and intensity of these calamities is bound to escalate in the near future, causing unprecedented death and destruction unless emission of GHGs is controlled quickly and effectively. Scientific evidence proving this claim and forecasts have been published on APM website routinely.

Unfortunately, the fate of most excellent policies and strategies that are devised in Pakistan, is to gather dust in official files. The Pakistan National Conservation Strategy suffers similar fate and awaits implementation.

Meanwhile, the nation continues to bear the brunt of natural catastrophes. As glaciers in the HKH (Hindukush, Karakorum & Himalaya) mountain ranges melt rapidly in the wake of global warming, South Asia is racing towards extreme shortage of water in rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra and Indus by about the year 2035. The result will be widespread famine and unimaginable human suffering. In order to assess the magnitude of the problem the 'Asia Region Task Force for Risk Assessment' has been formulated under the auspices of the UN, but its first meeting is yet to be convened.

Certainly and rapidly we are advancing towards the age of an uncertain and violent environment where the above mentioned calamities would become everyday phenomena with additional frequent and intense earthquakes as well. Yes the human made climate change is a culprit behind the increased frequency and intensity of present earthquakes across the world. That’s why the other major issue facing South Asia is severe earthquakes, which earth scientists, specifically seismologists believed in that on the average, occur one or two major earthquakes for India and Pakistan within 150 years, but what is happening now? The year 2005 earthquake is still shaking our memories while right after a decade another major earthquake hits the same area. Moreover, tremors of around 7.4 intensity have already shaken the ‘Mount Everest’ twice in April-May this year! Now revised & carefully issued warning by the earth scientists has shrunk the span of time of major earthquakes on a decadal basis.

Although the cause of the frequent and rather intense earthquakes is shifting of tectonic plates along the fault lines on the junction of the Eurasian and Indian landmasses, there is a scientific theory by some that there may is a connection between climate change and earthquakes.

Notwithstanding the scientifically proven causes of both climate change and earthquakes, protagonists of conspiracy theories also point to tempering climate by the HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program). HAARP is a little-known, yet critically important U.S. military defense program which has generated quite a bit of controversy over the years in certain circles. Though denied by HAARP officials, some respected researchers allege that secret electromagnetic warfare capabilities of HAARP can and have been used for weather modification, to cause earthquakes and tsunamis, to disrupt global communications systems, and more.
During past summer, unwarranted but moderate rains in Chitral caused the glacier lakes outburst with the result entire infrastructure of the valley was ruined. It is yet to be ascertained whether the climate change is based on fossil fuel fumes or the so called HAARP technology is behind this natural calamity. However, loss of massive glacier weight shifted the regional tectonic forces balance towards the favourable conditions required to intensify the tremor beneath. Again, in the mid of October winter rains changed the scenario. Keeping in view the immense capability of HAARP, can the Met Department or SUPARCO probe as to which global climate parameters caused these rains?

During the last 25 year this altruism has been the only source and resource of this movement. What APM has learned during grass root activism & field research work is quite alarming. For instance, only the removal of alpine tree cover in the north & north western ranges of the Subcontinent would put the region in a chronic situation to face a decade long famine. It would pose a great threat of even a nuclear conflict between India & Pakistan.

During earthquake 2005 our field research revealed that rural areas of these mountains having tree covers suffered lesser life losses. It is evident that land sliding is quite hazardous during tremors. Denuded slopes are mourning over their forest loss. But the question remains, who will restrain the timber mafia? It is disheartening to see the very same people who are responsible for this, next to the Prime Minister on his visit to the calamity hit area.

What can we do on a national horizon to face the forthcoming climate disasters? To save glaciers a chain of small lakes and ponds other than the big dams can harvest the moisture for local snow cover that once forests did. To save perpetual flow in our snow & glacier melt based rivers & to avoid land sliding during expected and frequent earthquakes Alpine Forest cover must be rehabilitated. Building architecture for these areas must be revisited. Timber Mafia must be crushed.
For the time being, the natives be assisted specially with medical aid, food & tents along with support for rebuilding and rehabilitation.

Article by Mohammad Raza Khan (late)

Published in The DAILY NATION on November 30, 2015