As of September 7, one-third of the region of Pakistan is underwater due to a massive flash-flooding period that has lasted since mid-June of 2022. These events followed what Nature has called “an intense heatwave and a long monsoon that has dumped a record amount of rain.” The floods have left 1,343 dead and 22 million affected; hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis were displaced from their homes and the total financial losses have been estimated at at least $10 billion. The Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif stated in a somber tone while visiting the sites of disaster, “It is water everywhere as far as you could see. It is just like a sea.”
The underlying unfortunate fact of the matter is that in 2019, Pakistan’s greenhouse gas emissions were at a mere 433 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year. While this may seem like a big number, this South Asian country accounts for 0.9 per cent of the global emissions yet is forced to endure the effects of climate change disproportionately.
Now that we have thoroughly understood the situation at hand, the irreversible predicament it has yielded, and the irony behind the statistics of Pakistan’s relationship with climate change, we must take part in a practice that has become quite popular in modern American society that is deeply rooted in taking sides, living in echo chambers that pressure you to speak and not listen, and looking at everything from a political aspect: a fun game known as “The Blame Game.” We know the drill:
- Point fingers,
- Sound convincing to throw someone else under the bus, and
- Slowly back away and act like you were never a part of the conversation.
But this is no time to set up our boundaries or hold personal grudges, the prime reason being the simple fact that people are dying. Children who have bright futures ahead of them are dying. Adults who greatly contributed to the economy together are dying. Parents who have newly-orphaned, dependent kids are dying. And those who are close to these people want answers. They demand to know who is behind the climate change that caused the floods that finally caused the death of their loved ones; and they demand these answers rightfully so. I am not here to point any fingers, but someone must be held accountable, right? And the answer is, unfortunately but candidly, all of us.
As unfair as this whole situation is, it is equally important to recognize that we are the causes of the destruction of our very own human race. You see, while some might attempt to put the blame on the government, people on the other side of the political spectrum, and even a supreme being (or multiple if they believe in a polytheistic religion), it all comes down to the individual level. Each and every one of us has some part to play in the climate discussion and if we are the ones who inevitably caused this, we should hold ourselves accountable for it and attempt to support those who have been harmed by our actions.
Our hypocrisy, and specifically, the hypocrisy of us Americans who have the privilege to bring change as the leading nation of the world in many aspects, has for too long fueled the flames that are now at a point where they can no longer be put out. We have been causing this turmoil for ages now, ever since the introduction of polluting, carbon-intensive products, but the peak of this cataclysm and ruination that we have been trying to predict for years? We’re only getting closer to it every day that we let this hypocrisy continue to rage in its furiously destructive inferno.
And it’s not just the flooding in Pakistan; similar events are taking place all over the world with Typhoon Hinnamnor in South Korea, large amounts of rain in Bangalore, India, the Thwaites ‘Doomsday’ Glacier in Antarctica hanging on by a thread (which could cause sea levels to rise by 10 feet), and many instances right here in the U.S. like the unbearable heat waves in the West and the distressing floods (and, therefore, unsafe drinking water) in Jackson, Mississippi.
Lastly, to address what all of us are thinking: where do we go from here? For starters, it is essential to self-adapt. This is referring to understanding how you as a person can analyze the negative impacts of your current actions and decisions, and seeing how to change them in the future. The UN’s Act Now Campaign points out that some of the key facets of life that can be changed to alleviate the effects of the problem include using more renewable energy and public transportation that does not create as much carbon emissions, switching to a plant-based, less wasteful diet, and, most importantly, speak up about taking climate action. Adults often believe climate change to be a taboo topic for students to discuss but we must come together and appeal to them, elected officials, and social activists to take, what the UN calls, “urgent action toward net-zero emissions.”
We must take action before it is too late. I’m sure you have heard the previous phrase an umpteen amount of times, but now, more than ever, we must come together and not just acknowledge but solve this problem of climate change. And before you close your device and get back to your busy life, I would like to remind you of a quote by Pablo Picasso, a Spanish painter and sculptor. When speaking of his lifestyle of constantly finding something to keep him in touch with his industry and his inspiration for his art, he prophetically stated something that I will always remember and that I hope you will, too: “Action is the foundational key to all success.” In our scenario, the action is crossing the aisle and forgetting about the political spectrum to solve a problem that is not influenced by any arbitrary factor or boundary. And the success is saving our planet and sustaining the human race.