Plant a seed, beat the heat!


Written By: Shireen Merchant

Global warming is a problem of excess carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere – which acts as a blanket, trapping heat and warming the planet.

As we burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas for energy or cut down and burn forests to create pastures and plantations, carbon accumulates and overloads our atmosphere. The entire world is undergoing the phenomenon global warming.

Last year in the month of June which was also the holy month of Ramadhan, Pakistan faced severe heat wave crisis. More than 1200 citizens lost their lives to the severity of temperature.

Temperature rose above 40 Celsius in large parts of Sindh and Balochistan and Karachi bore the brunt of most deaths.

According to the latest forecast by Pakistan’s meteorological department, Karachi might witness intense heat wave once again with plenty of sunshine and warm air. Experts have predicted that another heat wave is likely to hit the metropolis in the coming days. Moreover, scientists have also warned for some time now that the heat waves will become more frequent and intense due to climate change.

There is much to do to mitigate the disastrous effects of future heat waves in our city. There is a need to create awareness on how to cope with severe temperature and help people protect themselves against it.

In context of the situation in Karachi and other parts of the country, it is high time that we focus on extensive tree plantation. This will at least help in minimizing the damages caused by the heat waves.

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Trees are an integral part of the environment, a part sorely missing in highly populated cities like Karachi. Trees have a cooling effect as they transpire water from the ground, through the roots and out from their leaves. In addition, trees provide shade.

Changing climate and increasing heat are a direct result of deforestation; that in turn calls for planting as many trees as possible.

Extreme weather events, such as these, will continue happening unless and until the inhabitants themselves make massive changes in their environment and surroundings.

High temperature in the country is also attributed by experts to the increasing concrete cover and an acute lack of parks and green belts in the city as such spaces, they say, help lower the temperature of an area.

Hence, it is the need of the hour that the citizens and welfare and social organizations should ensure mass tree plantation in the city along with government’s ongoing tree plantation drive.

plantA social organization called ‘Who is Hussain?’ (WiH), stepped up and took the initiative in this regard.

This organization, which aims to bring positive change in the world we live in, conducted a plantation drive in three rounds in different areas of Karachi.

Its enthusiastic team of volunteers planted three different species of trees including Neem, Amaltas (Indian Lubarnam) and Gulmohar ( Flame of the forest). These species take less water and provide shade.

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This initiative by Karachi wing of WiH is indeed laudable. Other NGOs and social organizations should also play their part for the betterment of their city.

Planting even a single tree will, in time, assist in preventing the possible future heat waves. Moreover, cutting down trees should also be avoided.

There probably won’t be a need to grow more trees if none of them are cut down.

A Chinese proverb rightly says : “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is today!”