Aug 28, 2022 - World

Pakistan dubs floods "climate catastrophe" as deaths surpass 1,000

Pakistani people wade through floodwater following flash flood
People wade through floodwater following flash flooding in Tando Muhammad Khan district in the southern Sindh province of Pakistan on Aug. 28. Photo: Shakeel Ahmed/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

More than 1,000 people have been killed since the start of Pakistan's monsoon season this summer, in what the country's climate minister has dubbed a "climate catastrophe."

Driving the news: Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority reported on Sunday that the death toll from the monsoon rains, which have sparked flooding and landslides across the country, had topped 1,060 people, AP reported.

  • More than 1,500 people have been injured since the start of the floods in mid-June, per CNN.
  • The floods have destroyed nearly 300,000 homes, caused widespread electricity outages, and made roads impassable. More than 33 million people — one in seven Pakistanis — have been affected by the floods, the Guardian reported.

What they're saying: "By the time this is over, we could well have one-fourth or one-third of Pakistan under water," Sherry Rehman, a Pakistani senator and the country’s minister for climate change, told Turkish news outlet TRT World last week.

  • "It is not stopping, the rain is relentless. The water is coming down in buckets from a merciless sky," Rehman told Deutsche Welle, adding that "many districts are beginning to look like they're part of the ocean" and that aid helicopters cannot find dry land to drop rations.
  • "It's quite devastating — it is a climate catastrophe," she added.
  • “Pakistan has never seen unrelenting torrential rains like this. This is very far from a normal monsoon. It is a climate dystopia at our doorstep,” Rehman told the Guardian.

Our thought bubble, from Axios' Andrew Freedman: Climate change is altering the characteristics of the Asian monsoon in ways that make more extreme rainfall amounts more likely to occur, as warmer air holds more moisture, adding energy to storms.

  • The floods only add to the misery that tens of millions in Pakistan experienced during spring and summer, when the country was hit with a record-shattering, deadly heat wave featuring sweltering temperatures of above 120°F. The extreme heat led to a damaging glacial lake outburst flood as Himalayan glaciers shed ice at rapid rates.
  • A climate attribution study found that human-caused climate change made the heat wave, which also affected India and lasted for months, 30 times more likely to occur and at least 1.8°F hotter, on average than it would have been without increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
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