Photo: DVIDSHUB, Flickr, CC BY-SA
After weeks of persistent flooding, the UN now estimates that at least a full one-fifth of Pakistan -- a nation of 170 million people -- is underwater. And the New York Times reports that estimate is probably lowballing the full extent of the damage. 1,600 people are believed to have been killed, and 14 million have been either forced out of their homes or been impacted in some way. The tragedy has gotten so out of hand that Obama has tripled the amount of aid initially sent to the region for disaster relief. And with fresh flood warnings for the coming weekend, Pakistanis are bracing for even more calamity.Here's the NY Times on the new flood warnings:
Pakistan issued new flood warnings on Thursday that could last into the weekend as government and relief agencies strained to confront the toll from a growing humanitarian disaster.And Climate Progress notes that "The fasting month of Ramadan began yesterday in sorrow for 14 million Pakistanis, as one fifth of the nation is underwater from the worst monsoon-related floods in living memory." The floods, which are thought to be the worst in 80 years, are causing concern on every front -- certainly humanitarian, but also national security. The Times explains how the flooding is offering the Taliban an opportunity to win the hearts and minds of the populace by offering relief and aid -- they're also telling Pakistanis to refuse any US aid.
The new warnings to several cities in Punjab and Sindh Provinces added to the desperation of many across the country facing a daily struggle for survival as Muslims around the world began to observe the holy month of Ramadan.
But US aid is certainly coming, and droves of it. Judging by harrowing video evidence like this, it seems the nation can use it:
It's certainly been a miserable summer for Pakistan (perhaps the understatement of the year), first registering the hottest temperature ever recorded in Asia, and then facing record flooding. And what's worse is that these trends are expected to continue in the future: Both phenomenons fit the projections of climate scientists to a T. Here's NASA:
What we can say is that global warming has an effect on the probability and intensity of extreme events. This is true for precipitation as well as temperature, because the amount of water vapor that the air carries is a strong function of temperature. So the frequency of extremely heavy rain and floods increases as global warming increases.Looking at a nation that's one-fifth underwater from extreme flooding and registering record high temperatures, it's certainly hard to discount the mounting role of climate change in increasing the probability of such events.
For now, however, the attention must be turned on the aid efforts, and restoring Pakistan's infrastructure and treating those impacted by the tragedy.