Basic Guide to Climate Change

What is climate change?
A change of climate that is directly or indirectly related to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability over comparable time periods.

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What changes will occur in the temperature?
The most recent scientific assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that the global averaged surface temperature on Earth will increase by 1 to 3.5°C (about 2 to 6°F) by the year 2100, with an associated rise in sea level of 15 to 95 cm (about 6 to 37 inches).

                                 

A small example about climate change:
What would you choose if you were given the choice between a 30 carat diamond and cylinder of air that can add next 10 minutes to your life on earth? It’s not a million dollar question because the answer is simple. 

Why is it that we presently don’t feel that the air is worth more than all the diamonds on earth? It’s a distortion of the market mechanism. Free market economy values the rarest of the resources and not the most valuable. Many a times in the past we have relied on pricing mechanisms to adjust demand to available supply. At times cheaper alternatives were developed because of formidable costs. In all such cases mankind survived because they had alternatives and their survival didn’t depend on either of them. 

What if their survival did depend on one of such commodities and there was no alternative? This is a situation we foresee when we ignore the most valued natural resources that human beings survive on (air, water, soil). These resources are depleting fast and more so because of the effects of Climate Change.

What are the effects and impacts of climate change?
There is growing global consensus that climate change is humankind’s greatest threat in modern times and is likely to have profound consequences for socio-economic sectors such as health, food production, energy consumption and security and natural resource management.  

The harmful impacts of this global warming effect are already manifesting themselves around the world in the form of extreme weather events like storms, tornadoes, floods and droughts, all of which have been mounting in frequency and intensity. As a result, the world today suffers around 400-500 natural disasters on average in a year, up from 125 in the 1980s (Disaster Risk Reduction: Global Review 2007). 

According to the Fourth IPCC Assessment Report, the evidence of predicted impacts of climate change is slowly unfolding.  Crop yield growth rates are declining in most parts of the world, partially as a consequence of rising temperatures, while increases in prevalence of climate-induced diseases have also been recorded. There is also evidence of accelerating recession of most glaciers on Earth, rainfall variability and changes in marine ecosystems. Another serious threat arising from climate change is to freshwater availability which is projected to decline especially in large river basins and adversely affect more than a billion people by the 2050s 

Climate change is also likely to have wide-ranging and mostly adverse impacts on human health. The projected increase in the duration and frequency of heat waves is expected to increase mortality rates as a result of heat stress, especially in areas where people are not equipped to deal with warmer temperatures. To a lesser extent, increases in winter temperatures in high latitudes could lead to decreases in mortality rates. Climate change is also expected to lead to increases in the potential transmission of vector borne diseases, including malaria, dengue, and yellow fever, extending the range of organisms such as insects that carry these diseases into the temperate zone, including parts of the United States, Europe, and Asia. 

The observed effects of global warming so far are:

  1. Increase in the mean global sea level (1-2mm per year over the last century);

  2. Worldwide retreat of glaciers;

  3. Decrease in snow cover and thawing of permafrost;

  4. Shifts of plant and animal ranges;

  5. Earlier flowering of plants;

  6. Birds breeding seasons and emergence of insects;

  7. Increased events of coral bleaching. 

What does adaptation to climate change mean?
Adaptation refers to actions intended to safeguard, people, communities, businesses and a country against the vulnerabilities and effects of anticipated or actual climate change. Adaptation aims to allow vulnerable groups to adjust and live with the changes in the environment and economy that will be caused due to climate change. 


What does mitigating climate change mean?
Mitigation means taking actions to tackle the causes of climate change. In other words, it means taking measures to reduce the emission of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere and halting the global warming trend. 

How is Pakistan affected by climate change?
Pakistan contributes very little to the overall Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, but remains severely impacted by the negative effects of climate change by the following ways:

  1. Glacier melt in the Himalayas is projected to increase flooding will affect water resources within the next two to three decades. This will be followed by decreased river flows over time as glaciers recede.

  2. Freshwater availability is also projected to decrease which will lead to biodiversity loss and reduce availability of freshwater for the population.

  3. Coastal areas bordering the Arabian Sea in the south of Pakistan will be at greatest risk due to increased flooding from the sea and in some cases, the rivers.

  4. Being a predominantly agriculture economy, climate change is estimated to decrease crop yields in Pakistan which in turn will affect livelihoods and food production. Combining the decreased yields with the current rapid population growth and urbanization in the country, the risk of hunger and food security will remain high. 

  5. Endemic morbidity and mortality due to diseases primarily associated with floods and droughts are expected to rise. Increases in coastal water temperatures would exacerbate the abundance of cholera. 

  6. The impact of climate change will also aggravate the existing social inequalities of resource use and intensify social factors leading to instability, conflicts, displacement of people and changes in migration patterns.

Why can’t ecosystems just adapt?
Climate change is not a new influence on the biosphere, so why can’t ecosystems just adapt without significant effects on their form or productivity? There are three basic reasons.

First, the rate of global climate change is projected to be more rapid than any to have occurred in the last 10,000 years.

Second, humans have altered the structure of many of the world’s ecosystems. They have cut down forests, plowed soils, used rangelands to graze their domesticated animals, introduced non-native species to many regions and intensively fished lakes, rivers and oceans. These relatively changes in the structure of the world’s ecosystems have made them less resilient to automatically adapt to climate change.

Third, pollution, as well as other indirect effects of the utilization of natural resources, has also increased since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

Climate change and developing countries:
Developing countries are the least responsible for climate change: The world’s least developed countries contribute only 10 percent of annual global carbon dioxide emissions. However, the geographical location and socio-economic fragility of most of the developing makes them more vulnerable to the environmental, social and economic ramifications of climate change and the lack of resources and capabilities to adapt to the changes will worsen the situation.

Moreover, people who live in poverty around the world will be hardest hit by climate change. This is because the poor are more dependent on natural resources and have less of an ability to adapt to a changing climate.

What countries are most at risk from climate related threats

What measures can be taken to cope with climate change?

  1. Increasing access to high quality information about the impacts of climate change

  2. Improving technological responses by setting in place early warning systems and information systems to enhance disaster preparedness

  3. Practicing energy efficiency through changes in individual lifestyles and businesses

  4. Reducing the vulnerability to livelihoods to climate change through infra-structural changes

  5. Promoting good governance and responsible policy by integrating risk management and adaptation

  6. Developing new and innovative farm production practices, including new crop varieties and irrigation techniques

  7. Improving forest management and biodiversity conservation

  8. Empowering communities and local stakeholders so that they participate actively in vulnerability assessment and implementation of adaptation

  9. Mainstreaming climate change into development planning at all scales, levels and sectors

Pakistan: Leading victims of global warming

Pakistan contributes less than 1 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases blamed for causing global warming, yet its 200 million people are among the world’s most vulnerable victims of the growing consequences of climate change.
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There is little doubt that climate change has become a reality that the world must accept. The Fourth Assessment Report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change sets out more clearly than ever before that the “warming of the climate system is unequivocal.”1 Adaptation is on the agenda of countries around the world and there is a growing consensus that the impacts of climate change will hit developing countries hardest, where a large portion of the world’s poorest live.
The nation is facing ever-rising temperatures, drought and flooding that threaten health, agriculture, water supplies and hopes for development of a society that ranks in the bottom quarter of nations, based on income per person.
Pakistan is one such country and will need to seriously consider its adaptation strategy. As agriculture is one of the largest sectors of the Pakistani economy (almost 24% of GDP and 44% of labour utilisation),2 it is critical to ensure that there is adequate adaptation to climate change in this sector. However, in order to begin determining an adaptation policy for the agricultural sector, it is essential to assess the kind of impacts climate change will have. Therefore, to assess these impacts, this study will look to model itself on the work of Mendelsohn, Nordhaus and Shaw3 and conduct a Ricardian analysis of climate change impacts on agriculture in Pakistan. The intuition behind the Ricardian approach is as follows: farmers are able to make economic substitutions to suit their environment, i.e. farmers possess the ability to adapt to their local climatic/environmental settings, producing an efficient level of output and maximising their returns. Given that any sufficiently large geographic entity (e.g. a country) sees a range of climatic conditions, it can be inferred that farmers in those distinct climatic conditions are putting their land to optimal use. What this implies is that a cross-sectional study that relates agricultural land value to climatic factors would serve as a robust indication of the damages that can be expected from a changing climate. A change in temperature for example would see farmers adapt their farming to maximise their returns; the question is whether the agricultural sector will see a net gain or loss as most farmers adapt to a changing climate.
Pakistan is among 10 countries affected most by climate change, according to the 2018 Global Climate Risk Index released by the public policy group Germanwatch.
Bridging the Middle East and South Asia, Pakistan is in a geographic location where average temperatures are predicted to rise faster than elsewhere, increasing 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) by the year 2100, according to a 2012 World Wildlife Fund report.
This past April 30, the temperature in the southern city of Nawabshah soared to 122.4 degrees Fahrenheit (50.2 degrees Celsius), the hottest day on earth ever recorded in April, the Pakistan Meteorological Department and World Meteorological Organization said. It was even hotter in the southern city of Turbat on May 28, 2017, when the temperature hit a sizzling 128.3 degrees Fahrenheit (53.5 Celsius).
“We are planning to move to other places due to extreme heat in our area,” Nawabshah resident Azhar Rashid said in an interview. “We are surprised by every new summer here starting with high temperatures that badly affect our daily routine and jobs.”
So far this year, more than 60 people have died from the heat in Karachi, the country’s largest city. Many more die of heat-related illnesses across the country, but exact numbers of deaths are not kept. 
In June 2015, more than 1,200 people died from the heat nationwide and 65,000 were treated for heat illnesses, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority for the Karachi region reported.
Depleting water supplies are another problem in a country where 60 percent of the land receives less than 10 inches of rain per year. Rivers are mainly fed by the Hindu Kush-Karakoram Himalayan glaciers, which are melting rapidly due to global warming.
Muhammad Akmal, a professor at Peshawar Agriculture University, said Pakistan’s rising temperatures are also being boosted because forests are being destroyed as people clear areas for housing and other development. The trend also is resulting in less fertile land for farming.
Akmal said global warming is extending summer-like weather to virtually the entire year, from January until November.
There is a significant data requirement to conduct such a study: agriculture, meteorological, soil quality and geographic, political delineation and socio-economic data, along with the need for integrating it all in a Geographic Information System and analysing it with sophisticated statistical software. This data is available (preliminary work has confirmed this) but, as a consequence of Pakistan being a developing country, it will be a challenge to get it. An assortment of government offices possess different components of the required data and not all of it in a convenient digital form. Thus a significant effort will need to be made in order to locate, access (this will require building and using contacts), collect, (possibly) digitise and prepare the data set. Some of this data will only be available in local government offices and will require travelling extensively to government offices in a number of smaller cities and villages to collect and verify4.
Work during the summer yielded some of the required data. It needs to be determined whether that data is sufficient for the proposed analysis.
At the same time, “the rise in the use of vehicles causes heat and more ozone-destroying gases that transform the environment into a furnace,” he said.
Pakistan, which has the world’s sixth-largest population, is projected to add nearly 100 million people by 2050, causing great strains on its resources. Plus, ambitious plans for economic development could mean the country increases carbon emissions by 300 percent over the next 15 years, as more cars clog roads and demand for electricity expands, according to projections.
The country’s government has pledged to reduce emissions by 2030, as required by nations that signed the Paris Climate Accord, but it has not said how it will accomplish that given its development hopes.
Feeding the growing population will be a challenge as the melting of glaciers and higher water evaporation rates caused by hotter temperatures will mean less irrigated water and smaller harvests of staples such as wheat and rice.
“Recently we have seen devastating results of this growing mess,” said Aamir Amjad, senior program coordinator at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, a liberal policy group. “Humans are forced to migrate and switch their livelihoods, the yield of crops has decreased … (and) “the cycle of extreme weather has either expanded or intensified.”
Despite all these environmental challenges, climate change has not been a major issue debated during the campaign for a new national assembly to be elected Wednesday. Instead, issues such as corruption and improving social services have dominated the debate among candidates.
During the last five years, only the Pakistan Movement for Justice party, favored to score gains in the election, focused on environmental issues in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province by launching a program to plant a billion trees to reduce heat across the province. 
“We need to teach new generations about the environment and encourage researchers to conduct empirical studies on climate change issues,” Amjad said. “Their findings will help to streamline policies.”
A 2017 report by the Asian Development Bank concludes that northern parts of the country will suffer the biggest increases in temperatures and that water per capita will decrease at an alarming rate in coming years.
The report also warned that extreme climate change events, such as heavier rains that cause flooding, will damage the country’s gas, oil, and power infrastructure. Warmer temperatures also may affect the efficiency of nuclear plants, it said.
“There is a need to develop drought- and heat-tolerant crops that show optimum performance even with changes in climate patterns,” the report said. It also called for construction of water storage systems, investment in renewable energy, “improved weather forecasting and warning systems, retrofitting of critical energy infrastructure, and construction of dikes or sea walls.”
Defeating hunger, combating malnutrition, alleviating food volatility and dealing with climate change reside in the sustainable production of food, which is possible with some radical changes. This would be a change that reinforces the rights of small land-holders equally and that can bring incentive into the current scenario. Studies have shown that optimum production of most of the staple crops can be obtained with small units of production and can reduce poverty.
References:
1. Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change. 2007. Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report – Summary for Policymakers, page 2.
2. Khan, Mahmood Hassan (2005), Agriculture in Pakistan: Change and Progress 1947 – 2005, Vanguard Books, page 8.
3. Mendelsohn, Robert, William Nordhaus and Daigee Shaw (1994), “The Impact of Global Warming on Agriculture: A Ricardian Analysis”, American Economic Review, 84 (4), 753 – 771.
4. The federal government maintains aggregate numbers for provinces and federally administered territories; some de-aggregated, district level data is available at the federal level, however much of it sits in district (or more local level) offices.

Panicum tyrgidum: A resilient fodder and excellent biofuel crop

Asad Saeed, Mohsin Tanveer, Shahbaz Atta Tung, Ali Ahsan Bajwa

Global  environment  is  rapidly  changing  due  to  increase  in  global warming, associated with CO2 concentration  leading  to  higher  ambient  temperatures. Expected reduction of agricultural production will cause serious problems. These threats are aggravated by limited freshwater resources and impending soil salinization.  Irrigated  agricultural production  already  has  decreased  20–35%  due  to  increasing  levels of  salinity  Fast  growing  population  is  suffering  from severe  shortage  of  water  and  food  which  will  aggravate  with  time. These  problems  could  be  partially  alleviated  by  utilization  of  low quality  irrigation  water  such  as  saline  groundwater  or  seawater  on appropriate  wastelands  for  production  of  non-conventional  crops especially  in  arid  regions.  Most  of  the  conventional  crops  cannot tolerate  salinity  even  al  low  concentrations.  It  is  therefore  necessary to  develop  sustainable  biological  production  systems  for  brackish  or  high  salinity  water  irrigation.  The  development  of  suitable halophytic  crops  has  been  considered  for  the  production  of  food, forage,  oil,  wood,  timber,  ornamental,  medicine  and  biofuel.  A  candidate  for  an economic  and  ecologically  sustainable  production  system  at  arid conditions  could  be  Panicum  turgidum  Forssk. It  xerohalophyte  is  a tussock-grass,  commonly  found in  the  salt  deserts  of  southern  Pakistan but also  in  other  arid  areas. Panicum turgidum is a perennial, growing as dense bushes up to 1 m tall. It bends over and roots at the nodes. Leaves few, stems hard, bamboo-like, solid, smooth and polished; 2.5-3 mm in diameter, emitting from the nodes panicles of branches in tufts from a swollen base with panicle terminal, 3-10 cm long; spikelets 3-4 mm long, solitary. The roots are remarkable for their clothing of root hairs to which fine sand adheres, giving them a felty appearance.  It is distributed from Pakistan west through the Arabian peninsula to northern Africa. In various parts of world, it has been renowned as Taman or tuman (Sudan), afezu (Nigerian Sahel), guinchi (eastern Sahara), thaman (Kuwait), markouba (Mauritania), du-ghasi (Somalia). It is native to Dead Sea Depression, at -380 m at Shor-es-Safiyeh, to 3 200 m in the Tibesti Mountains of the central Sahara. In the open tussock communities in Mauritania and the western Sahara plants survive by dissociating themselves from one another rather than growing in association. The root-stock is stout and the root fibres strong and woody; the root hairs bind particles of fine sand by the extrusion of a glue which allows them to absorb more moisture from the soil.Panicum tyrgidum A resilient fodder and excellent biofuel crop 300x241 Panicum tyrgidum: A resilient fodder and excellent biofuel crop

It is usually found on deep dune sand, but will grow in a well-drained latosol.  The plant usually spreads by the bending over of the stems until the nodes reach the ground, where they take root to form a new plant.  No preparation is necessary in the sandy environment in which it grows. In the Sahel it begins flowering in August, continues flowering through to February and is mature in June. The tuft grows again each year. There is a variation within the species, and there are forms with high grain yields. The vegetative yields of these forms in Near Eastern collections were up to twice those from Mauritania, especially at low levels of nutrients. Main attributed of this crop is its drought tolerance, sand-binding characteristics and grain production, while Main deficiency is its woodiness.  It is native to hot, dry, arid climates with 4-38°N, longitude 17°W-80°E.  The young leaves and shoots are very palatable; even in the dry state it is still eaten by camels and donkeys. There is little response to nitrogen, but some to phosphorus and potash.  The Tuareg inhabitants of the Ahaggar Mountains in the central Sahara eat the grain. It is ground into flour and made into porridge. It is also used for thatch, and mats (the Tuaregs use the stems with a weft of thin leather strips). The ashes are added to tobacco for chewing, and the powder from ground stems is used for healing wounds. It is valuable for fixing dunes in the 100-400 mm rainfall areas. In the neighbourhood of the Red Sea, P. turgidum covers the whole of the coastal plain. Panicum turgidum is a perennial bunchgrass, growing in dense bushes up to 1 metre (3.3 ft) tall. It has roots at the nodes which are covered in hairs to which fine sand adheres creating a felty appearance.

P. turgidum is a remarkable drought-resistant species. Established plants may survive for several years without rain. It appears to be tolerant to fairly high salinity stress. Therefore, it is a good species for stabilizing loose soil. Since many native grasses of the coastal strip of Egypt are spring growers, the summer growth of P. turgidum may make this species suitable as complementary forage for the deteriorated lands of the western coastal desert of Egypt. P. turgidum has the merit of being resistant to drought and also an effective sand-binding xerophytes. Wind-borne sand usually accumulates around the bushes of P. Turgidum forming isolated mounds that gradually enlarge and eventually coalesce and form sandy patches that cover the original gravely or stony bed. Thus, it is one of the best grasses to protect the soil against transportation by both wind and water. Accordingly, P. turgidum is usually used in many rehabilitation programmes in arid regions. Also due to the high palatability of this grass it is considered an important fodder and grazing plant for many animals, especially in summer when annuals disappear and shortage in natural forage occurs. Also, in dry conditions, P. turgidum provides grazing as standing hay. Since many native grasses of the coastal strip of Egypt are spring growers, the summer growth of P. turgidum may make this species suitable as complementary forage for the deteriorated lands of the western coastal desert of Egypt. Panicum turgidum is halophyte with remarkable importance in biofuel production. As stated before, it is distributed in coastal area of Karachi, thus can be employed in biofuel production.

Panicum tyrgidum: A resilient fodder and excellent biofuel crop

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