9 april 2013

Pakistan to be hardest hit by climate change: Dawn

BY IANS, The Economic Times (India), April 9, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will be amongst the countries hardest hit by climate change, said a leading daily, warning that a disaster of enormous proportions is silently evolving in the mountains up north.

An editorial in the Dawn on Tuesday said that away from the din of politics and the immediacy of militant strife, a disaster of enormous proportions is silently evolving in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan mountains up north, one that could in time impact the length and breadth of Pakistan.

"The peaks are home to some 15,000 glaciers which, as a result of rising temperatures, are retreating at an alarming rate of almost 40 to 60 metres a decade, leaving behind glacial lakes in their wake," it said.

The daily warned that 52 such lakes, an inherently unstable phenomenon that can trigger devastating flash floods, have been classified as dangerous to human settlements.

Parts of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral have already suffered floods on this count in 2010.

"The melting of the glaciers will also ultimately lead to a rise in sea levels, threatening coastal areas and cities such as Karachi," it said, while referring to a meeting to review the progress of a four-year project between the government and international organisations to deal with the fallout of climate change in Pakistan.

It stressed that by most estimates, "Pakistan will be one of the countries hardest hit by climate change".

"It is therefore encouraging that the government is taking steps such as setting up meteorological observatories at sites vulnerable to glacial lake outburst floods and the planned establishment of automated weather stations in the area which should lead to improved data collection, an essential requirement for a well-calibrated response."

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