By Dr. Muhammad Nawaz Iqbal
According to a recent “rapid-attribution” research, the monsoon rainfall that broke all previous records and caused major floods in Pakistan this summer was “certainly increased” by climate change. Pakistan experienced over 190% more rain than its 30-year average from June to August 2022. Natural catastrophes and climate change pose a serious threat to Pakistan. For years, the nation has been plagued by calamities like earthquakes, typhoons, flooding, and drought, which frequently destroyed the foundations on which the lives of hundreds of thousands of families were constructed. More than 1,600 people have died due to prolonged and intense monsoon rains across significant portions of Pakistan since June.
Landslides and flash floods destroyed roads, bridges, and buildings. Many villages are completely cut off from aid. More than 33 million people, according to the Pakistani government, have been impacted by the floods, which have prompted the country to declare a state of emergency. After unusually high summer downpours, the flooding has destroyed about 800,000 hectares of crops. In a nation of 225 million people that is already struggling with record inflation of 27.3%, this increases the prospect of famine for millions. Over a sizable region of agricultural land, floods will destroy a significant amount of topsoil. Even though some regions of the landscape will experience severe topsoil loss due to the flood and sheet erosion caused by rain falling on wet soils, other areas will gain from adding fresh topsoil. Fields and crops can be destroyed by erosion and soil displacement caused by flooding. Crop plants are unable to establish roots because erosion removes the fertile topsoil. Floodwater deposits of sand, gravel, and pebbles can suffocate and kill crops that are left exposed.
Flooding in important agricultural production areas can result in extensive crop and fence damage and livestock loss. Transport issues brought on by flooded roads and destroyed infrastructure exacerbates crop losses caused by rain damage, waterlogged soils, and harvesting delays. By eroding riverbanks and forcing them to collapse, floodwater can also change the terrain. Floodwater suspends silt as it drags debris from the eroding banks, which can deteriorate the water’s quality and cause toxic algae blooms.
Due to climate change, crop yields are decreasing due to droughts and floods, and extreme weather events are becoming more frequent. Floods can seriously damage crops, stop agricultural production, put workers out of work, and obliterate the food supply. Droughts can also destroy crops. Through localized cooling, crop irrigation can lessen or eliminate the effects of decreased rainfall and higher temperatures on yields. However, it is costly and has drawbacks to using water resources for irrigation. Additionally, the water must come from somewhere; if the region has experienced a protracted drought, the rivers may be dry, and it may be necessary to transfer irrigation water over greater distances. Other plant pests and diseases are also encouraged to spread by the rising frequency of flooding and severe rainfall. On the other hand, drought conditions encourage certain pests, including aphids, whiteflies, and locusts.
This will undoubtedly increase pressure on the wheat market, especially as production has declined over the past few years. Many fields growing soybeans, macadamias, rice, wheat, and cane have been entirely flooded. Some have been completely wiped off, while others are gradually recovering.