Karachi coastal area under threat of climate change: SEARCH

KARACHI: Karachi coastal area is vulnerable to climate change impacts that could bring cyclone and cause heavy devastation of life and property, says Waheed Jamali, Executive Director, Society for Environmental Actions, Re-Construction and Humanitarian (SEARCH) response while talking to PPI on Tuesday.

“Sindh and federal governments should adopt climate change policy and raise mangroves forests along the Karachi coast and also release required sweet water in sea through Indus River. The release of water will stop sea erosion while planting of mangroves forests along beaches will protect the city from any possible cyclone,” he said.

SEARCH executive director said mangroves are a bridge between terrestrial and marine environments. They are also extremely productive ecosystems. The forests transfer organic matter and energy from the land to the sea, forming the base of many marine food webs. “They are also home to a wide variety of marine and terrestrial life, and serve as nurseries for many coral reef and commercially important fish species. In addition, mangrove forests play a vital role in trapping sediments, thereby stabilizing coastlines and protecting coral reefs and sea grass meadows.”

He said although the global frequency of tropical cyclones is expected to decrease or remain essentially unchanged, they may become more intense, with stronger winds and heavier rainfall, targeting Karachi at any time. He said: “All the successive government s have failed to provide incentives to the people of Pakistan, particularly coastal communities and they had left these people to face threats of cyclones, rainstorms and other calamities caused by climate change.”

He said coastal and ocean activities, such as marine transportation of goods, offshore energy drilling, resource extraction, fish cultivation, recreation, and tourism are integral to the nation’s economy.

“Coastal areas are also home to species and habitats that provide many benefits to society and natural ecosystems. Climate change could affect coastal areas in a variety of ways. Coasts are sensitive to sea level rise, changes in the frequency and intensity of storms, increases in precipitation, and warmer ocean temperatures. In addition, rising atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing the oceans to absorb more of the gas and become more acidic. This rising acidity could have significant impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems” he said.

Jamali said: “The impacts of climate change are likely to worsen many problems that coastal areas already face. Shoreline erosion, coastal flooding, and water pollution affect man-made infrastructure and coastal ecosystems. Confronting existing challenges is already a concern. Addressing the additional stress of climate change may require new approaches to managing land, water, waste, and ecosystems.”

He said coastal regions may face massive increases in damages from storm surge flooding over the course of the 21st century. Global average storm surge damages could increase from about $10-$40 billion per year today to up to $100,000 billion per year by the end of century, if no adaptation action is taken.

Jamali said low-income countries will remain on the frontline of human-induced climate change over the next century, experiencing gradual sea-level rises, stronger cyclones, warmer days and nights, more unpredictable rains, and larger and longer heat-waves, according to the most thorough assessment of the issue yet.

“The last major UN assessment, in 2007, predicted runaway temperature rises of 6C or more by the end of the century. That is now thought unlikely by scientists, but average land and sea temperatures are expected to continue rising throughout this century, possibly reaching 4C above present levels – enough to devastate crops and make life in many cities unbearably hot,” Jamali said.

As temperatures climb and oceans warm, tropical and subtropical regions will face sharp changes in annual rainfall, Jamali concluded.

Leave a Reply