This week a video went viral on social media of a gravedigger at an Edhi graveyard in Karachi, digging mass graves in preparation for casualties expected during the current heatwave. The video had such a powerful impact on the people of Pakistan, making them aware of the rapidly changing climate and the devastating threat it is under, that statistics and technical jargon could not. A severe heat wave with temperatures as high as 49 °C struck southern Pakistan in June 2015, claiming 2000 lives and the provincial government and the civil society of Karachi were better prepared this year in case such an event repeats itself. While this a positive step towards disaster mitigation, the government has to realise that climate change is a tangible threat. We need to fight it by changing policies; not just in terms of mitigation, but also prevention.

Many studies predict that the impact of environmental change on migration will only increase in the future. Environmental change, much like we are experiencing in Pakistan today may threaten people’s livelihoods, and a traditional response is to migrate, for e.g. the indigenous people of Cholistan, due to high temperatures and absence of rainfall during the current summer in the desert, have migrated in large numbers to areas closer to the canals. They are facing a severe shortage of food, water and fodder for their cattle and this has disrupted the way of life they have known for decades. Globally, 17 million people were displaced by natural hazards in 2009 and 42 million in 2010. In the monsoon season this year, Pakistan is most likely to face situations of flooding in large parts of the Indus basin like every year, contributing to the number of climate migrants rising each year.

 While Pakistan and India prepare for intense heatwaves, days of torrential rains in Sri Lanka last week has forced over 375,000 from their homes and stranded thousands in the worst flooding to hit the island nation in decades. The devastating Cyclone Roanu then unleashed its fury on the coast of southern Bangladesh on Saturday, forcing half a million people to flee their homes and leaving 20 people dead in floods and rain-triggered landslides. The whole region of South Asia, Pakistan included, is bearing the brunt of climate change and is categorised as the most vulnerable regions of the world. Without the understanding of just how large the threat to Pakistan is in the imminent future, the government will not be able to mitigate the disasters that are coming at us with increased intensity and frequency.