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Climate Disaster Is Here. If Pakistan’s Floods Are Not Proof Enough, What Is?

Terrifying clips of violent bodies of water engulfing everything in their way have been circling the internet. 33 million people are severely affected in the worst flooding Pakistan has experienced in a decade, with massive damage caused to infrastructure and livestock. Climate disaster is already here and not enough people are paying attention: if Pakistan’s floods are not proof enough, what is? Here’s how you can help.  

Is there anything else we’ve missed out on that you would like to bring the public’s attention to? This is an evolving piece: if you’re a Pakistani organiser, or part of the movement in any other capacity, and would like to build on this list of actionables, we want to hear from you. Please reach out to the writer of this post on Instagram @kankshac or email them here: kanksha@greenisthenewblack.com. 

CLIMATE CRISIS IN THE PRESENT TENSE

Last year, Jacobabad in Pakistan reached temperatures reported as “hotter than the human body can handle” with highs at 52°C (126°F). And 40% of Pakistanis continue to live in poverty. This year, the country was faced with deadly heatwaves just before the floods hit like never before. Millions of acres of crop land, homes, schools knocked off. So far, more than thousand people are dead.

A history of colonialism and imperialist global economy is widening inequality. We are witnessing recurring and worsening crises year after year. Why?

A viral video recording of Vijay Prashad’s speech during COP26 is relevant: “Colonialism isn’t something that happened in the past that we defeated. Colonialism is a permanent condition,” he said, “And this condition happens in two ways: there’s the permanent condition of the colonial mentality. You tell us that we are responsible when you [the colonisers] are the one principally to blame. You say we’re all in this together and so on. We’re not in this together. The United States, 4-5% of the world’s population, still uses 25% of global resources. Then there are colonial structures and institutions. You [the IMF] lend us money that is our money. It’s these colonial structures that reproduce themselves year after year. The climate justice movement says “we are worried about our future”. What future? Children in Asia and Latin America don’t have a future—they don’t have a present. We’ve got to be worried about now.”

WHAT DOES JUST ADAPTATION LOOK LIKE?

Net-zero 2050 targets are nearly three decades away and the death tolls are expected to keep rising till then if we do not act with the pace and urgency that the current crises demand. The bottom line is: this was preventable, and so was the extent to which the state and its people responded. Capitalism prioritising short-term profits over safety is the reason we have so little investment in dealing with the present-day consequences of climate change.

When we imagine an ideal, organised response, what does it look like? What are the steps leading up to it? How can we collectively (both internationally and locally) mobilise to arm the people organisationally before crisis strikes?

Chris Saltmarsh writes for Jacobin: “Are our emergency services well funded to respond to disasters? Do we have robust health care systems prepared to expand capacity when required? Do we have evacuation plans including safe conditions for those displaced? Are there contingency plans for the distribution of food during shortages? Have we invested in our buildings to withstand storms or flooding and to cool during extreme heat? Do we have a socialized insurance system capable of providing sufficient cover for loss and damage to homes or businesses, regardless of cost? Do we have employment rights fit for an era where work will be made impossible by new conditions?” A resounding no.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

1. Some trusted organisations you can direct your funds to: Flood Emergency Appeal; Khair is helping Mama Baby Funds collect proceeds and donations for their clean delivery kits to women who will give birth at home

2. The Edhi Foundation has been doing humanitarian work in Pakistan for decades and is one of the most respected groups in the nation for their commitment and reliability.

3. Another Solidarity Appeal started by the @womendemocraticfund who are committed to providing aid and relief to most affected areas.

4. Alkhidmat is collecting money for food, tents, medicines and they have detailed exactly how your proceeds will be distributed.

SUPPLEMENTARY ACTIONABLES AND RESOURCES

Solidarity with the people of Pakistan doesn’t end here. Keep your eyes on Pakistan by following voices from the ground: Karachi Bachao Tehreek, Sindh Indigenous Rights Alliance (SIRA), and Pakistan Maholiati (environment) Tahaffuz (protection) Movement are some of the groups that have been working towards organising the masses towards environment protection and climate justice in the country. People have lost their homes, cattle, crops and more, which will continue to haunt the land for years to come. Check out this google doc with more ways to help. Pakistan needs urgent aid which should come in the form of solidarity, not charity, and wider climate reparations from those corporations fueling the change and glacial meltdowns. Read further here and here. Trace the history of top-down policies that threaten vulnerable communities. If you’re in media, write about this, and escalate it.

How can our readers and online audience help frontline activists and groups in the short-term and long-term? Is there anything else we’ve missed out on that you would like to bring the public’s attention to? This is an evolving and cumulative piece: if you’re a Pakistani organiser, or part of the movement in any other capacity, and would like to build on this list of actionables, please feel free to reach out to the writer of this post on Instagram @kankshac or email them here: kanksha@greenisthenewblack.com.

Bookmark this page, return to it to view updates on actionables. Share them with and mobilise your comrades and online networks.

FEATURED IMAGE: via The New York Times | IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A man knee-deep in flooded land, wearing soaked clothes the same brown as the water, is pulling on a bed frame on which a boy is sitting, looking straight at the camera, with his legs dangling below. In the background, two trees, one electric pole, and a few buildings are visible. 
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