Pakistan Region

Climate Change: Non-Traditional Security Paradigm

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By  – Rameez Ahmed Sheikh [1]

In the years ahead, Climate Change will have a significant impact on every aspect of the daily lives of all human beings- possibly greater even than war. Each and everything in this universe is subject to a continuous process of change. In this backdrop environment and climate are no exception to the principle of change. Since environment and climate have direct relation to the human life pattern, behavior, and habitat; therefore, any change in this can alter the pattern and place where we live.

Climate Change (CC) is defined as “A periodic modification brought about as a result of changes in the atmosphere as well as interaction between the atmosphere and various other geological, chemical, biological and geographical factors within the earth’s system.” The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines Climate Change as “A change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.”

The environmentalists have outlined three causes responsible for Climate Change; 1) the greenhouse gases, 2) Atmosphere Aerosols, and 3) Land use change. There are certain gases, known as the greenhouse gases, present in the earth’satmosphere that absorbs the heat while allowing the sunlight to escape.Climate of the earth is not static, and has changed many times in response to a variety of natural causes. In recent years the earth has experienced increasing global warming due to natural causes and human activities as well.

Since the Industrial Revolution, the balancing effect of greenhouse gases is under severe threat. As a result of the human activity, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is continuously increasing. This results in increased absorption of heat and thus causing more average surface temperature is known as “Global Warming.” As a result of emissions and mechanized agricultural processes, the level of atmosphere aerosols is on the rise. Dust, smoke, soot and other forms of particles with their changed properties and increased amount pose real threat to the “microphysical process of clouds.”

People are exposed directly to changing weather patterns (temperature, precipitation, sea-level rise and more frequent extreme events) and indirectly through changes in the quality of water, air and food, and changes in ecosystems, agriculture, industry, human settlements and the economy. So, the relationship between climate change and human health is multidimensional.

The following elements of climate are expected to change: i) Temperature, ii) Precipitation, iii) Sea level rise and iv) Ice and show. The features of temperature anomalies could be:

  • Lesser heating of south and south-east Asia during summers.
  • More number of hot days in almost all land areas with increasing maximum temperature.

Water vapour contact in atmosphere will increase and thereby intensify the global precipitation patterns. More anomalies added in precipitation include:

  • Single larger events of precipitation falls are expected to increase compared to spread rain pattern. The single large event of precipitation pattern in July 2010 across Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa (KP) is also an example of this anomaly which caused devastating floods. Another flood in Pakistan in 2011 affected areas of Punjab and Sindh Province.
  • Annual variation of precipitation pattern is expected to increase.

The snow and sea-ice shelf is expected to melt. There is also more probability as glaciers are also expected to show widespread melting and more water run-off. The impact of Climate Change across the globe is wide ranging. However, the impact on the climate of Pakistan could be as follows:

  • The fresh water resources are likely to deplete.
  • Increased frequency of floods and droughts in some areas.
  • More frequency of heat waves, particularly in transition seasons.
  • The frost is expected to decrease. (In reality it has already decreased in the resent years).
  • The cold days are expected to be less and warmer days are expected to be more.
  • The glaciers are expected to recede at a faster pace.
  • The “single large events” of precipitation could be expected randomly.

According to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies Average temperatures have climbed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degree Celsius) around the world since 1880, much of this in recent decades. This is the reason that we have faced mammoth flooding in 2010 and 2011 in Pakistan, and hurricanes etc in other countries.

United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that 11 of the past 12 years are among the dozen warmest since 1850. The thought paper is feeling the effects of most. Average temperatures in Pakistan, Alaska, Western Canada, and eastern Russia have risen at twice the global average, according to the multinational Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report compiled between 2000 and 2004.

Climate Change affects human health both directly and indirectly. These direct and indirect exposures can cause death, disability and suffering. The major diseases that are most sensitive to climate change are diarrhoealdisease including Cholera, Vector-borne diseases like Malaria, Dengue, Falariasis, Kala-azar, infections associated with malnutrition and skin disease.

Climate Change is a reality and is on the horizon. Thus there is a serious need to engage all nations and societies for talking effective steps in conserving our environment. As a community we must act fast to bring human activity under effective climate management paradigm. All populations will be affected by climate change, but the initial health risks vary greatly.Climate Change is here to stay. Though scientific data cannot give a complete image as yet, it is bound to have unforeseeable consequences for humanity; it may trigger a large number of local and regional conflicts. Climate Change is a reality and it is better for the countries to brace it.

As the analysis of the thought paper is based on traditional and non-traditional security paradigm, this topic is grounded with non-traditional security paradigm because of food security, health and social protection to the poorest and most vulnerable in society, includes women and children, and is to be ensured. As we study in it that role of agencies (INGO’s & NGO’s) should initiate surveillance measures for climate sensitive diseases separately and develop a dataset for climate-sensitive diseases, as well as vector data based on geographical distribution to facilitate further research and prediction. Global community should advocate for a strong and equitablePost-Kyoto agreement and promote a “health-oriented”agreement.

[1] Rameez Ahmed Sheikh is serving as a Visiting Faculty at Department of Sociology, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad – Pakistan (Since September 2014). He is working as an Executive Director at Peace Education Network Pakistan (PENPAK). His research interests are Sociology of Peace and Conflict, Peace Studies and Peace Education. He can be reached at


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