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If the last good time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next is now!

Photo credit: Dawn

Watering the maritime desert

by ZAHRA ALI HUSAIN

With its extreme heat and drought-like conditions, Karachi has begun to raise an alarm: this is what global warming looks like and it now knocks on our doorstep.

“Karachi has been recognised as a maritime desert,” explains Rafiul Haq, an ecologist by profession and founder member of Coastal Restoration Alliance for Biodiversity (CARB). “It is located in a subtropical arid zone with an average rainfall of less than 220 mm/year. Such fragile climatic conditions are sensitive to any change.”

Extreme weather conditions are linked to global climate change, which is a result of unnecessarily exhausting natural resources. In a city of about 20 million, the endless use of air conditioners, excessive travelling and even eating meat more than we need, is all adding up to a bigger carbon footprint.

“The settled residential areas are now surrounded by high-rise buildings, which contribute to municipal, social and ethical issues. Recent unplanned and uncontrolled development has greatly ignored the fragile nature of the city’s climate,” argues Haq.

Is there a way to reverse the process?

The consensus among environmentalists is to plant more trees, and then some more. It seems like an obvious and sensible thing to do, but not many heed the lesson.

“Trees play a vital role in moderating the micro climate,” explains Haq. “Besides being good absorbents of radiant energy, producing oxygen and maintaining temperature through perspiration, they definitely contribute in increasing the chances of rain.”

Read the full article: DAWN

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.