Match the Heat

Temperatures are already souring to 47 degrees in Sindh and there are early warnings of more temperature rise and a heat wave. Sindh, in its experience from the past, carries harsh memories from the year 2012 when an unexpected heat wave claimed hundreds of lives, mostly in Karachi. Back then, heat wave was not a regular phenomenon. For this summer specifically, heat wave alerts have been issued very timely and it was all over the news that heat waves will hit Pakistan during the ongoing summer season. While Pakistan is not the only country in this geographical radius to experience this climatic change effect, what we know thus far is that we have to manage what we cannot put an end to.

Climate change and the subsequent temperature rise of the earth are realities now. So while there is a policy aspect to how and how quickly we must act and create a shield that protects us from scorching heat and heat strokes, there is an equally urgent need that our usual as well as policy discourse centers around lifestyle changes and community and municipal level guidelines. For example, it is common knowledge that more trees and thick tree cover will save us from the wrath of heat. This is doable and a step that must be initiated without delay. As for heat strokes, which ultimately lead to unfortunate deaths, the public health structure must be fully equipped. Prior to that, the public must be aware that they must avoid sun exposure in peak heat hours.

This last point becomes more of a privilege and less of a choice. People are forced to go out and earn a living even when the heat is unbearable. Here, the municipalities must be very active and people who have to stay outdoors must be protected in every way possible. Last but not least, our policy circles need to think differently and seek innovative solutions. Instead of canceling and delaying exams, we have to adapt in ways that do not disrupt our routine lives. Students already have a three-month summer break owing to the severe weather our part of the world receives. An alternative to canceling exams is to hold them in the evening hours when it is generally safe to walk out.

We have to live with heat waves now as they have become a regular feature of the climate change landscape. But we have the choice to adapt in ways that best ensure our survival.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt