ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahidullah Khan has announced to form a committee of experts shortly, which will investigate the causes of the blistering heat wave in the country, so that fallouts of heat waves in future are mitigated.

“After consultation with experts on heat wave issue, I have decided to set up an Experts Study and Investigative Group of Scientist and Planners, including officials of national and provincial disaster management authorities, who will examine the situation from all angles and propose strategy for tacking similar situation in future,” Mushahidullah Khan said in a press statement issued here on Thursday.

He said that it was hoped that recommendation by the experts’ group will include awareness for general public, better strategy for planners so that frequency and intensity of similar extreme weather events can be managed and the loss of life and property could be avoided. Senator Mushahidullah Khan warned that the country is most likely to witness increased frequency in incidents of heat wave in future, perhaps in a more intense shape. “However, there is pressing need for raising awareness about health risks from extreme heat among citizens and trained healthcare workers to identify signs of heat stress to avoid its negative impacts on human health,” he stressed.

He said, “Climate change is increasingly causing extreme weather like heavy rains, floods, heat waves and severe storms and Pakistan is in the grip of these climate risks.” He highlighted that climate science has already confirmed that because of global warning such events will be more frequent and more intense, which are also happening in other parts of the world. “Only three weeks back India faced similar heat wave situation which caused over 2,400 deaths,” Mushahidullah Khan recalled. He further recalled that in 2003 Europe’s intense heat wave killed 32,000 people in the entire continent, nearly 14,000 of them in France. Referring to reports in international media, the minister said that climate change is severely impacting human health because of extreme weather conditions, including floods, intense rains, droughts, heat waves and wildfires.

Talking about recent heat wave spell, which continues to grip southern parts of the country, Mushahidullah Khan said that causes of searing heat wave in Karachi needed to be analysed in a very serious, comprehensive and scientific manner to be able to tackle and manage such situations in future. The minister said that in the country’s largest metropolis of Karachi, the ongoing situation of heat wave has broken 10-year-old record for being sustained heat wave condition, which has continued for 4-5 days. The 45 degree temperature was recorded in even shaded open space at the city airport. Whereas, elsewhere in the city the same temperature reached approximately 50 degree because of “Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect”. Describing the causes of UHI effect, the minister said the UHI effect is, in fact, rise in temperature of any man-made area, resulting in a well-defined, distinct ‘warm island’ among the ‘cool sea’ represented by the lower temperature of the area’s nearby natural landscape. Although heat islands may form on any rural or urban area and at any spatial scale, cities like Karachi, Lahore, Hyderabad, Multan, and Rawalpindi are favoured. Because, surfaces of such cities are prone to release large quantities of heat, leading to incidents of heat accumulation. Nevertheless, the UHI effect negatively impacts residents of urban-related environs, humans and their associated ecosystems located far away from cities. Besides, UHI effects have been indirectly related to climate change due to their contribution to the greenhouse effect, and therefore, to global warming, he highlighted.

He rebuffed reports in categorically terms that the grave situation of deaths from blistering heat wave in the port city of Karachi is because of load shedding. In fact, many of the unfortunate dead did not have electricity connections, he added. “Instead, it is an extreme climate event as recent scientific investigations indicate,” the federal climate change minister argued. He stressed the need to improve electricity supply and called for need to learn lessons from the ongoing situation of heat wave and hammer out an strategy to avoid such calamity in future.