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Pakistan's Floods Beggar the Imagination
Rainfall is at 780% of "normal," whatever that still means--Aid needed!
I could—and probably I should—write a column every single day about the effects of the climate crisis now playing out daily around the world. But there’s some balance that must be stuck between chronicling the ongoing horror, and becoming inured to it. Most of the time, it’s more important to figure out how the hell we’re going to slow the train down.
This is a fighting newsletter. If you can afford a subscription to help keep it going, that’s great, and if you truly can’t, that’s fine too.
But sometimes—well, check out these video images coming in from Pakistan, where one of the truly awful tragedies of the greenhouse era is playing out.
The numbers—a thousand dead, 33 million affected—don’t mean that much (and are doubtless underestimates; it will take weeks to reach every corner of the remote northwest frontier where some of the worst damage is reported). But just try and imagine the number of lives turned upside down.
"The house which we built with years of hard work started sinking in front of our eyes," Junaid Khan, 23, told the AFP news agency. "We sat on the side of the road and watched our dream house sinking."
"She told me: 'Daddy, I'm going to collect leaves for my goat,'" Muhammad Fareed, who lives in the Kaghan Valley in the northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said.
"She went to the bank of the river and a gush of water followed and took her away."
There’s no doubt that this is what happens when you heat an atmosphere: warm air holds more water vapor than cold; in Sindh province, where some of the worst flooding is taking place, rainfall is nearly five times the average. Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s climate change minister, called the flooding a “climate-induced humanitarian disaster” of “epic proportions.” According to Bloomberg,
Millions of acres of farmland, including part of the prized cotton crop, have been destroyed in a country where the agricultural sector accounts for about a quarter of the economy.
And there’s no doubt that the people of Pakistan are not to blame for their tragedy: on average each Pakistani is responsible for about one fifteenth as much carbon dioxide as each American, and even that is fairly recent; over the whole span of the fossil fuel era, America has produced a quarter of the earth’s greenhouse gases; Pakistan, with about 220 million people, produces about one half of one percent of the world’s emissions. And yet, before the flooding, they suffered through a savage springtime heatwave; urban temperates reached 121 Fahrenheit, in a place where, as of 2018, there were fewer than a million air conditioners.
So, help, if you can.
The Red Crescent Society is at work—details here
So is the World Food Programme—details here
This is a fighting newsletter. If you can afford a subscription to help keep it going, thank you
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