As I write this, my country is drowning. In the past two weeks, Pakistan experienced cataclysmic floods triggered by unprecedented monsoon and glacial melting, killing over a thousand people and many more injured, destroying hundreds of thousands of homes and millions of acres of crops, and causing billions of dollars in damage.

A third of my country is under water right now – bridges, roads, schools, and other critical infrastructure sinks, and people run to evacuate their homes. At least 33 million people are displaced – that’s 1 in every 7 Pakistani. These are 33 million dreams broken, 33 million hopes shattered, and 33 million futures destroyed as a result of the havoc wreaked upon their lands by no fault of their own.

Pakistan accounts for just 0.67% of global carbon emissions, yet it has long ranked among the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world for the past decade. The country faces warming rates considerably above the global average and more frequent and intense extreme climate events.

Every part of Pakistan has witnessed numerous extreme climate events this year alone. From March to June, the provinces of Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab saw record-breaking heatwaves. In the northern regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan, melting glaciers caused Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF). Now the recent floods triggered by an unprecedented monsoon have created havoc in all regions of Pakistan, stretching from Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to Sindh, Southern Punjab, and Balochistan. This climatic catastrophe has wreaked devastation on the most marginalized, with millions still waiting for food, drinking water, and shelter while rescue teams struggle to reach these cut-off communities.

In a country already marred by its colonised past and seized by an economic collapse, the recent floods have exacerbated the devastations, leading to a steep rise in inflation and food scarcity of epic proportions as the floods have destroyed crops and killed livestock. The current climatic crisis is threatening Pakistan’s survival as an agricultural-based economy.

As Pakistan mourns the destruction and devastation caused by the recent extreme climatic events, the industrialized and post-industrialized countries of the global north responsible for these catastrophes need to be held accountable. For us to survive and for the Pakistani people to live a dignified life, the climate crisis needs more attention than it is getting right now, especially from rich countries responsible for 90% of the world’s GHG emissions. These high emitting countries need to take responsibility, but they also need to be held accountable for the death and destruction that directly result from their action. The blood of the dead is on their hands–the global north, the fossil fuel billionaires.

The same high emitter countries of the global north colonized our land for hundreds of years, killing our ancestors and stealing our resources. Now they have colonised our atmosphere in their pursuit of wealth and development at the expense of our people’s lives and environment.

If this is what a 1.1 degrees C increase looks like for Pakistan, I am terrified to imagine what the future holds. The temperature increase may be linear, but the catastrophes are exponential.

As Pakistan faces a catastrophic humanitarian crisis and an unimaginable financial crisis – the country is on the precipice of total economic disaster. It is time that high emitter countries pay for loss and damage – they must compensate. We are not asking for charity or another loan; we need climate reparations.

The death and destruction Pakistan has suffered will not just be another negligible statistic in this for-profit greedy world.

Things you can do:

There are plenty of ways we can address the climate crisis, but for now, if you’d like to lend a hand immediately, here’s a list of relief operations and donation channels that you can refer to:

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Teaser photo credit: By NASA – https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=122411650