Although climate change is a global phenomenon, but it is hitting the sub-continent of the Indo – PAK more than any other region. Recently out of season heat waves have impacted severely both humans and crops.
Pakistan is an agricultural country and the Pre-monsoon months of March, April and May are usually dry and hot. This heat and dryness is essential for crop maturation and any disturbance in the well-established weather pattern is a great threat to crops and ultimately causes food shortages.
This year March began with subnormal temperatures; the temperatures we observe in Central Pakistan in January. In the first decade of March, the highs were around 70 F and lows 45. Whereas the long term average is 80 and 57 F respectively. The second decade of the month was near normal, but then a severe heat wave started in the last decade, which continued up to the first week of April. The day time highs shot up to more than 100 F in Lahore for instance, which is a typical central Pakistan plain station. The amazing thing is that in the last decade of March maximum temperatures have seldom been recorded above 90 F in Lahore. The nighttime low rose to as high as 75 F whereas as a rule it should not have exceeded 60 F.
From the above discussion it follows that in a single month, Lahore experienced temperatures as low as 46 F and as high as 100 F! These types of abrupt and phenomenal variations in temperatures are fatal to crops which are at this time in the maturity stage. Since Pakistan’s economy is predominantly Agro based, this causes a severe threat of drought and food shortages.
What more, the Pakistan Meteorological department has predicted a more severe heat wave from middle of April onwards and temperatures are expected to reach 106 F or more at Lahore. It is noteworthy that in Lahore such type of heat waves is a very recent phenomenon and was unknown before the year 2000. According to the usual pattern of weather at Lahore, one should not expect a severe heat wave until the second decade of May.
The need of the hour is to take immediate and solid steps at Regional and Global level to check the emission of Green House Gases (GHGs) which are the prime cause of climatic change. Although awareness has spread globally regarding climatic change but the general public; especially in the developing counties; is almost unaware of the harmful effects of climate change. So it is essential that the information regarding this phenomenon be disseminated at grass root level so that the agriculturists and common people can guard against the harmful effects of global warming and extremely unpredictable temperature patterns.