The climate crisis is one that is spoken of as far away, not in reach, something that the world is progressing towards. The recent floods in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi tell a different story though.
In Pakistan, 1,300 people are dead as a third of Pakistan is considered to be under floodwater. Weeks of unprecedented monsoon rains have caused flooding in central and southern Pakistan, and glaciers melting in northern Pakistan have wreaked havoc. The climate minister of Pakistan has said that the global emission targets and reparations should be considered given the nature of the climate crisis. Pakistan has contributed less than 1% in greenhouse gas emissions.
Two hundred bridges and 3,000 miles of telephone lines have collapsed or been damaged in Pakistan, and around 33 million people have been affected by the floods. The floods have destroyed 1.2 million homes. Crops have been ruined in parts of Pakistan that produce over half the country’s foods. Experts estimate that some towns have received 500 to 700% more rainfall than normal in the month of August.
The situation in Pakistan is seemingly dystopian – what we hear scientists on the news warn us of but something we think doesn’t affect us. However, the climate crisis has been affecting those in the Global South for decades – droughts, floods, glaciers melting, pollutants. These countries produce a fraction of greenhouse gas emissions, of pollution as compared to countries such as the US, the UK, and China. Countries like Pakistan are demanding reparations from countries who have caused the global environmental crisis – the damage from the floods is set to hit $10 billion. In neighboring Afghanistan, flash floods have been destroying villages in eastern, central, and southern Afghanistan, killing 46 people and injuring over 100 more. Nearly 4,000 families have been affected by the flooding. Furthermore, the floods in Pakistan have been affecting the food security not only in Pakistan, but Afghanistan as well. Pakistan supplies a route to Afghanistan, of food entering through ports in Karachi and crossing the border into Afghanistan.
“Pakistan has to face the climate crisis and the world has to wake up to this reality that a poor country like Pakistan, which is not producing any carbon dioxide, which is not contributing to the greenhouse effect, is actually suffering the worst,” Miftah Ismail, Finance Minister, tells CNBC.
The climate crisis affects countries in the Global South, but it also affects those who are more marginalized, socioeconomically and racially. In the US in the city of Jackson, Mississippi, a water crisis affects the city’s residents. At the end of August, excessive rainfall caused the Pearl River, running through Jackson, to overflow. The overflow took out the city’s main water-treatment plant. Mississippi declared a state of emergency. Around 180,000 residents were experiencing the breakdown of the water system. The pipes, either dry or producing contaminated water, left Jackson without clean water. However, even before this crisis, Jackson has been home to a crumbling water infrastructure. Nearly 25% of Jackson’s residents live below the poverty line. There is a stark similarity in the way that countries in the Global South, mostly economically disadvantaged, and people in the Global North who are economically disadvantaged both are those that are first affected by climate change and the climate crisis.
To mitigate the crisis, call your representatives asking for them to send reparations and aid to the countries affected by the climate crisis and the people affected by it. Donate to Helping Hand who is conducting flood relief for Pakistan here.