A third of Pakistan is underwater from floods, climate chief says

Men walk along a flooded road with their belongings, following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Suhbatpur, Pakistan August 28, 2022. REUTERS/Amer Hussain

A third of Pakistan is now underwater amid an unprecedented amount of rainfall since June, Pakistan’s climate change minister, Sherry Rehman, said Monday.

That would mean an area about the size of Colorado is underwater. Pakistan, home to about 220 million, has a land mass of 307,000 square miles.

Flooding caused by eight consecutive weeks of rainfall has killed more than 1,100 people. “This is a huge humanitarian disaster, and I would call it quite apocalyptic,” Rehman said in an interview with Britain’s Sky News.

A man wades through flood waters carrying his grand daughter on his back following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Charsadda, Pakistan August 28, 2022. REUTERS/Fayaz AzizAziz

In one town in the southeastern province of Sindh, about 67 inches fell in one day, Rehman said on Twitter. “Unheard of, anywhere,” she said.

The growing number of extreme weather events around the world is due to the planet’s rising temperatures, weather experts say. Higher temperatures mean more water in the air: For every degree of warmer temperature, the air can hold about 4% more water.

Last week, flash floods struck the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Last month, a record-breaking deluge swept through St. Louis before floods in eastern Kentucky killed dozens of people. Outside the United States, a state in Australia observed about 28 inches of rain last month, while record rainfall in South Korea tore up parts of the capital, Seoul, this month. Last year, massive floods killed more than 150 people in Europe.

The floods could cost Pakistan, which had already been battling an economic crisis, more than $10 billion, the country’s finance minister said, according to Bloomberg News. Officials spent the past week appealing for international aid.

In a move aimed at alleviating Pakistan’s broader fiscal problems, the International Monetary Fund said this week it would release $1.1 billion to the country. Last week, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund said it had allocated $3 million to U.N. agencies and partners in Pakistan for health, nutrition, food security, and water and sanitation services in flood-affected areas. The U.S. Agency for International Development said earlier this month that it is providing $100,000 in humanitarian assistance.

The floods have revived an old debate about whether developed, wealthier countries such as the United States – the largest historical emitter of carbon dioxide – should help cover the costs of climate change for poorer countries.

Rehman, who has urged Pakistan’s global partners to scale up their climate efforts, told Sky News: “We hardly contribute any emissions to the broader emission blanket that makes for greenhouse gases to turn our climate into a living hell.”



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