Urbanization And Deforestation Boosting Pakistan’s Temperature – OpEd
By Saba Kiran
Pakistan is among the nations that are experiencing the negative consequences of climate change. The development of housing societies and tree-cutting are two primary causes of this issue. Housing societies have significantly grown in number in recent years, particularly in metropolitan areas. Deforestation has significantly increased as a result, which is one of the primary reasons Pakistan’s temperature is increasing. Housing societies are constructed to provide residents current living standards, and they provide a variety of amenities and features that entice residents to live there. But these communities need a lot of space to be built on, and sometimes the only accessible land is in a forest. Trees are therefore felled to create room for housing societies.
In order to maintain an area’s ecological equilibrium, trees are essential. Oxygen, which is necessary for all living things to survive, is released when they absorb carbon dioxide from the environment. Providing shade and transpiring moisture into the air via a process termed as evapotranspiration, they also aid in controlling the temperature. Thus, the removal of trees has a major negative effect on the ecosystem and accelerates climate change. Rising temperatures, droughts, and floods are just a few of the repercussions that Pakistan is now experiencing as a result of climate change. Urban regions, where there is a high concentration of people and little natural space, are especially affected negatively by these impacts. Both the growth of housing societies and the removal of trees worsen and amplify these consequences.
Construction of housing societies has been undertaken to meet the huge rise in housing demand brought on by Pakistan’s urbanisation. These communities are established on often wooded ground, and in order to create room for the development, the trees are felled. Due to this, metropolitan areas have lost a substantial amount of their greenery, which has raised the temperature. The development of housing societies has other negative effects in addition to the removal of trees. The building process itself also adds to the temperature rise. A huge quantity of heat and carbon dioxide are released into the environment when large pieces of equipment like bulldozers and cranes are used. Concrete and asphalt, two common building materials in these civilizations, both absorb and radiate heat, which adds to the urban heat island effect
The absorption and emission of heat by buildings and other structures causes urban regions to be much warmer than their rural neighbours. This phenomenon is known as the “urban heat island effect.” In metropolitan regions with a high density of people and little green space, this impact is especially severe. By lowering the green cover and increasing the usage of heat-absorbing materials, the growth of housing societies and the removal of trees intensify this impact.
The State Bank of Pakistan said in 2020 that the number of housing societies being developed has significantly increased in recent years, contributing to Pakistan’s housing sector’s fast growth. Due to several factors, such as urbanisation, industrialisation, and the development of agriculture, Pakistan has been dealing with a serious problem with deforestation and forest degradation for several decades. Pakistan has lost over 9.6% of its forests during the last two decades, according to a study released by the country’s Ministry of Climate Change in 2019.
Pakistan’s residents’ health and wellbeing are significantly impacted by the country’s increasing temperatures. Heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and other heat-related disorders may occur at higher temperatures. The elderly, children, and those with established medical issues are three vulnerable populations for whom this is especially troubling. Significant economic repercussions are also caused by the rise in temperature in Pakistan. Higher temperatures may result in decreased productivity and greater energy usage as individuals need more air conditioning to stay cool. As a result, energy costs go up and the already stressed nation’s power system is put under further stress.
It is crucial to address the underlying causes of the problem in order to solve the rising temperature issue in Pakistan. The expansion of housing societies and the clearing of forests are two of the major factors. A coordinated effort to save and revitalise the nation’s woods and green places is required to address this issue. This may be accomplished through a variety of techniques, including reforestation, afforestation, and the preservation of existing forests and green areas.
Promoting environmentally friendly building practises and sustainable development strategies that prioritise green space are additional potential solutions. This may be accomplished by putting into place green construction norms and standards that call for the use of sustainable resources, such as recycled materials, and the integration of green areas into the design of housing societies. Furthermore, there needs to be more education and understanding about the value of trees and green areas for both the environment and human health. Public awareness campaigns and educational initiatives at schools and colleges may accomplish this.
The rules and regulations governing the development of housing societies and the preservation of forests and green areas need to be more strictly regulated and enforced. Increased environmental monitoring and enforcement by governmental organisations, harsher punishments for environmental lawbreakers, and stronger environmental legislation may all help.
As a result, the number of housing societies is growing, and fewer trees are being planted, which is a big factor in Pakistan’s increasing temperature, metropolitan heat island effect, which is especially bad in highly populated metropolitan areas, makes this issue worse. There has to be a concerted effort made to maintain and restore the nation’s forests and green spaces, advance sustainable development principles, raise public awareness and education, and uphold environmental protection laws and regulations in order to solve this issue. These actions will help Pakistan move towards a more sustainable future and will lessen the impact of climate change.
Ms Saba Kiran is an MS graduate of the Department of Aerospace and Strategic Studies at Air University, Islamabad. She has a background in political science and takes an academic interest in ethnopolitical conflicts, national security, strategic stability, and social conflict analysis.