This article is not going to be like my usual articles, full of geo-political stuff, no. It`ll be about weather and a very very grave news, which has been, I believe shown on international media networks like CNN and BBC.
Karachi, the biggest metropolitan city and the economical hub of Pakistan, suffered an extreme heatwave in the past 3-5 days. Temperatures went up to 45 C (113 F) in the port city which normally has a very pleasant weather. Karachi never had much rainfall, the geographic location of Karachi is such that the flow of sea breeze inwards into the city keeps away most of the weather systems, which are pushed up towards the north of Pakistan. Despite low annual rainfall, Karachi has always had a temperate climate. Recently however due to multiple factors, the climatic conditions have changed and temperatures have steadily risen over the years. Yes, Karachi has had her fair share of the global warming.
This year mercury went up to unprecedented levels. For the first time in 10 years, Karachi recorded having 45 C (113 F) temperatures in the pre monsoon season. Such high temperatures triggered a wave of most unprecedented chain of events.
As the temperatures rose, K-electric ( the company which supplies electricity to the city ) began to face multiple problems in their electricity distribution system which resulted in a massive power breakdown across the city. Rising temperatures, coupled by no power and shortage of water (due to unavailability of power) resulted in a very nasty situation for the inhabitants of Karachi. All the hospitals in the city began to receive a stream of patients, all of whom were suffering from severe heat stroke. Within hours the situation worsened as the body count began to increase. K-electric was at a complete loss, their call centres weren`t receiving calls, their ground teams weren`t co-operating. Massive protests broke out in the city and angry protesters stormed into K-electric offices and burned them down.
This however didn`t help the situation. The blazing heat of the sun and absence of water and power resulted in almost 1100+ deaths in Karachi within 4 days. The worst calamity to ever strike this city. The situation was so bad that all of the morgues in the city were overflowing with dead bodies. For 4 complete days, the government was totally absent, people were dying and the so called elected representatives were enjoying the luxuries through tax payer money.
The representatives of K-electric shamelessly announced that the people died due to the heat and blaming K-electric for their deaths is shameful. Shameful I ask? Well if the people died due to heat, then why didn`t any director or employee of K-electric die or why didn`t any politician die? They were in the same city, facing the same conditions, weren`t they? No. They had constant access to power and water. while the poor and common folk had to face the full force of heat.
Temperature north of 40 C are common in Gulf countries, but we never hear about massive deaths there, why? Because they have efficient electricity distribution system. K-electric may lie shamelessly but they`ll have to answer for this. If those unfortunate 1100+ people had received access to power and water, they might have been saved.
It is so ironic that so many people died due to heat and without access to power, yet their dead bodies were taken to morgues with temperatures below freezing point. Had they received similar aid while they were alive, they might still have been alive. 😦
The heat wave was triggered by a climate change which was brought about because of reckless development. In the last 5-10 years, Karachi has seen unprecedented levels of growth, the city itself is imploding. Top it up with massive deforestation. The mangroves on the coast of Karachi have been destroyed, there are almost no green belts with in the city. You`ll hardly find proper trees in this city, Karachi although a very busy city, resembles Isengard from Lord of the Rings. Total absence of trees from the city have turned this port city into a desert. Which is why experts have forecasted further much more severe spells of extreme temperatures in Karachi and adjoining areas.
Ideally, this isn`t a hopeless situation. A responsible government would take steps to counter this by planting trees, by making use of technology and all available resources to reverse the effects of global warming, but that would be Utopian now wouldn`t it? Coming back to reality, Pakistan has one of the most corrupt, dishonest and sluggish governments. Political leaders, so called political leaders! Regularly threaten to split the country apart if any action is taken against their corruption, loot and plunder.
Keeping this in mind, people of Pakistan should brace themselves for some extreme weather phenomenon. We have had frequent floods in last 5 years and earthquakes. It is not just Pakistan though, all parts of the world have been experiencing the same.
May God help us all.