According to a recent estimate of United Nations, the number of people suffering from massive floods in Pakistan exceeds 13.8 million, which is more than the combined total of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Despite a general skepticism about global warming and climate change, increasing evidence indicates that it is not business as usual as far as weather patterns of the world are concerned. There has been a general rise in extreme climatic events over the years. While millions of our citizens continue to suffer in immediate aftermath of the deluge, the country is now said to be facing another spell of torrential rains that would no doubt aggravate the situation. Russia, meanwhile, is experiencing the hottest ever heat-wave that happened in nearly a century and half. This has led to wildfires that have killed dozens and left thousands homeless. In the remote Zhouqu county of Chinas northwest, meanwhile, massive mudslides and landslides over the past few days have killed hundreds, causing evacuation of tens of thousands and shattering of infrastructure. Such terrible climate-related events are being witnessed with increasing frequency around the world, in geographically disparate places. Together, they underscore the fact that climate change and global warming are likely to have increasing catastrophic effects on humanity. It is important to identify the reasons behind these changes and to try and prevent further damage. But in order to reduce the scale of human suffering, it is even more important that states everywhere recognise the dangers of climate change phenomenon and prepare contingency and emergency plans. The weather is outside the control of mankind, the least we can do is to prepare ourselves for the hazards it can pose. -AFIA AMBREEN, Rawalpindi, August 15.