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Pakistan Is in the Midst of a Record Flood—Experts Say Climate Change Is to Blame

A combination of record monsoon rains and glacial meltwater has left parts of Pakistan under up to 11 feet of water. Here's how to help.

Written by
Calin Van Paris
Published
September 2, 2022

This year has brought the effects of climate change into stark focus. From record-breaking temperatures to widespread drought to wildfires, the extreme weather and radical environmental shifts are becoming impossible to ignore. The latest "natural" disaster? The 2022 Pakistan floods, a harrowing weather event that has, thus far, killed more than 1,000 people and left millions more displaced.

A combination of record monsoon rains and glacial meltwater has left some parts of the country under up to 11 feet of water. The summer brought a 190% increase in rainfall, with more rain, as well as flash flooding, expected this month. The intense, apocalyptic-like weather is being attributed to climate change, which makes the flooding all the more tragic (and infuriating): In terms of global emissions, Pakistan is responsible for less than 1%.

Pakistan has dealt with flooding before. In 2010, heavy rains and subsequent flooding resulted in nearly 2,000 deaths and caused $12.9 billion in damages. The difference? In 2010, the floods were driven primarily by monsoons; this year, glacial melt is playing a much larger role. Pakistan is home to more than 7,000 glaciers, and along with influencing the weather, warming air is causing them to melt earlier and more quickly than in years past.

"We have the largest number of glaciers outside the polar region, and this affects us,” climate minister Sherry Rehman told the Associated Press. "Instead of keeping their majesty and preserving them for posterity and nature. We are seeing them melt."

Aid and evacuation efforts are underway, but with countless farms washed away, and livestock with it, food security and lasting damage—an estimated $10 billion-worth so far—are at top of mind for officials, who are importing food from other countries in an attempt to skirt shortages.

"Our staff in the country report that the scale of the devastation that people face is unimaginable," said UNHCR spokesman Matthew Saltmarsh. "Many are living under the open skies, waiting for help as the local authorities and the humanitarian community rush to reach more people."

Looking for ways to help? Donate to the likes of UNICEF, the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, and more, being sure to vet organizations prior to donating to make sure that the funds are being allocated ethically. And finally, pay attention—to both the news and developments and to your daily habits. Climate change needs to be tackled on an immense scale, but small shifts in individual mindsets lead to shifts in your community, which can lead to potentially radical change.