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October 13, 2017



‘Energy choices key to our global warming response’

Pakistan is among the 10 countries most affected by global warming and climate change, and it needs to urgently consider a changeover from the present production of energy to more efficient and environment-friendly ones.

This dismal situation was brought home at a seminar, titled ‘Going green for energy-efficient and climate-protective infrastructure development’, at a local hotel on Thursday afternoon. The event began with the screening of a film highlighting the pernicious effects of rapid industrialisation and rabid deforestation.

According to the movie, global temperatures were likely to go up by an average of five to six degrees centigrade. It also highlighted the melting of glaciers up in the Himalayas, and how that would first cause massive floods and then a water famine.

In a very erudite discourse, Amra Javed of Shehri highlighted the fiasco Pakistan in particular and the world in general were heading for. She said 2016 saw the highest levels of carbon dioxide in Pakistan’s atmosphere.

She asserted that rather than bank on the present system of power production involving furnace oil and coal, we should utilise other resources that nature had endowed the country with in abundance.

She was critically against coal-fired plants and independent power producers, and cited the case of Narowal where, she said, a recently set up coal-fired plant had caused so many diseases and ailments not only among the human population but even in the livestock.

She said Pakistan had the potential of producing 60,000MW of wind energy, which was a clean source of energy and far cheaper to produce. Similarly, she said, the country had the potential of generating 2.93 million MW from other sources.

Amra said Pakistan was spending Rs40 billion to cope with climate change, and the need was to change over to more economic and cleaner sources on a war footing. Sahiwal is known for its farm production and citrus fruits, but since a coal-fired plant was set up in a locality there, production of these commodities has been severely hit, she added.

“The worst part of it is that a sugar mill was established right in the midst of this very productive tract of land. Government policies in this direction are highly flawed.” She said that rather than being based on public good and the safety and welfare of future generations, government policies were based on selfish interests and kickbacks.

The sugar mill was right in the middle of the cotton-producing belt, cotton being such an important cash crop and our largest source of exports, she added.

As for the Thar coal plant, she warned that it would pollute the water in the area. She also decried the rabid deforestation that had spread its tentacles within the country.

“The yearly loss of forests is equal to the area of the Latin American country of Panama. Two thousand acres of forest help clear a large area of carbon.”

The film screened before Amra’s talk depicted the otherwise most scenic upper reaches of Pakistan rendered mutilated by unimaginative and drastic chopping down of forests. This, according to the movie, was the chief culprit in raising average temperatures, even on a global scale, seeing that deforestation was a global evil.

Muzammil Niazi, a grower from Deh Kakar near Malir, highlighted the advantages of organic farming. He said that among other things, we should switch over to drip irrigation, reduce land under vegetable farming, shift the emphasis to fodder production, switch to solar energy as the primary source, recycle grey water for non-edible greens, and give artificial cover to crops from 11am to 3pm during summer.

He said that during the last decade, we had witnessed rising temperatures, reduction in annual rainfall, and erratic weather patterns. These are tendencies that need to be nipped urgently if we are to avoid an environmental fiasco for the sake of our coming generations, he added.

Another farmer, Taufeeq Pasha, lamented that 90 per cent of the 650 million gallons of water provided to Karachi daily was going untreated into the sea. He said our rivers were laced with sewage water.

Talking about urban pollution, he was really critical of the maintenance of the cities and our apathy towards the environment, such as burning of polythene bags out in the open. “We have to create awareness among our youth who have a whole lifetime ahead of them, and should mobilise the social media to that end.”