Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pakistan floods reveal climate change fallout

William Dowell in the Global Post: Pakistan’s floods, the worst natural disaster in recent memory, have the potential to spark a series of crises that could affect large parts of the world, illustrating perhaps better than ever the political and economic consequences of climate change, analysts and international aid groups say.

Randolph Kent, executive director of the Humanitarian Futures Programme, said that disasters now are far more interactive than they were in the past and Pakistan’s floods are the prime example. The international community, he said, is just beginning to realize that the floods in Pakistan are the start of what could be a cascading series of political and economic catastrophes. “Hundreds of millions of people will be vulnerable to a whole host of events,” Kent said. “What we are creating is a series of crisis drivers that impact on each other.”

In a report released earlier this month, called “Waters of the Third Pole,” the Humanitarian Futures Programme found that the Himalayan and Hindu Kush mountain ranges contain the earth’s third largest single mass of frozen water, surpassed only by the North and South Poles. Just as the glaciers in the Arctic are rapidly melting, the ice contained in the world's two largest mountain ranges is also beginning to melt.

…The result, once the floods have gone, will be an economic catastrophe in which ordinary people lack the resources to feed their own families. Political chaos, affecting more than just Pakistan, is also likely to follow. The floods are already destabilizing Pakistan’s weak civilian government. At least one minority political party is calling on the country’s army, which has proved better organized to respond to emergencies, to assume power.

…The inability of either Pakistan’s government or the international community to provide sufficient aid quickly enough only reinforces the Pakistani Taliban’s argument that the foreigners, and their predator drones, should go home….

No comments: