Climate change claims many lives all over the globe, it’s time to take action

HAJAR UMIRA MD ZAKI
HAJAR UMIRA MD ZAKI
23 Sep 2022 08:30pm
Flood situation in Mentakab, Pahang in December last year. Photo: BERNAMA FILE PIX
Flood situation in Mentakab, Pahang in December last year. Photo: BERNAMA FILE PIX
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SHAH ALAM - Today, the world has witnessed numerous natural disasters that have cost millions of lives all over the globe and ruined the food source caused by global climate change.

From flash floods to typhoons to massive earthquakes that lead to destruction, many lives were affected.

People have lost their place, assets, clothes and even their loved ones due to the outrage of nature.

The closest example we can witness was our homeland, Malaysia, which experienced horrendous floods that caused people to lose their home, families and course of living due to the monsoon season in December every year.

Due to that, thousands of them lost their place to stay and had trouble sleeping at night whenever heavy rain and thunderstorms striked.

Though it happened overnight, the natural disaster was still vivid in the victims’ memories and to see their houses and assets were carried away with the flood marked a dark remembrance to every one of them.

The most recent case we heard of was the massive flood in Pakistan which had claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of victims.

It was caused by the melting glacier and the high monsoon rainfall that was three times greater than the average for the past 30 years.

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As a consequence, it had submerged more than a third of the South Asian region in the country and the southern Sindh province was the worst affected.

33 million lives of people were disrupted due to flood in Pakistan - AFP FILE PIX
33 million lives of people were disrupted due to flood in Pakistan - AFP FILE PIX

Based on a report by news portal The Guardian, the government said almost 33 million lives of people were disrupted and Pakistan even expected to face damage at $30 billion (RM97.7 billion).

Up until Sept 5, 2022, the casualties count due to the flood in Sindh, Pakistan was over 1,300 with a third of them were children.

Looking at the devastation of the people in Pakistan which has suffered damages and tragedy, the Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MRCS) launched an immediate humanitarian aid fund to help the flood victims in the country.

Aside from flood, the world was also alarmed by the Typhoon Himnamnoor that passed through South Korea’s southern industrial hubs on Sept 6, 2022, hitting three provinces – Pohang, Gyeongju and Ulsan.

It was reported that the powerful typhoon that befall South Korea came with a strong wind of 152 kilometre per hour, comparable to Category Two hurricane which lasted for about two hours.

Based on a report by CNN, the typhoon has claimed at least 10 lives and what’s heartbreaking to know is that seven of the 10 deaths were victims who were trapped after the parking lot under a residential complex in Pohang was submerged.

Meanwhile, a landslide in Gyeongju hit a house which resulted in the death of a victim and two more victims went missing from the typhoon.

Due to the typhoon, 2,900 people were evacuated and 66,000 homes experienced power outages and 45 per cent were restored at 3 pm local time.

BREAKING DOWN THE CAUSE

With all the natural disasters that took place worldwide, experts said it was undeniable that climate change may have been the root cause for it.

Water Quality and Water Quality Modelling Specialist Dr Zaki Zainudin said the weather conditions now become more apparent these days and pointed out that factors within control should be the primary focus at the moment.

“In my opinion, the influence of climate change (on such disasters) is hard to deny; the issue is the quantum of influence, vis-a-vis, is it the main driver ?

“It may be some time before we can get a definite answer to this question.

“Thus, in my opinion, it’s better for us to focus on factors within our immediate control, rather than only blame factors beyond our control.

“For example, we must accept that climate change is a reality and is happening. Thus, Malaysia has to play its part as a country,” he said.

Nevertheless, Zaki said Malaysia could not succeed in this effort alone as climate change was examined as a global issue and requires a worldwide effort to deal with the climate change situation.

Protection of Natural Heritage of Malaysia (Peka) president, Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil said 85 per cent of the global population was currently affected by global warming that’s closely related to natural disasters and they resided in the affected areas.

“These natural disasters are actually the follow up to human activity that is causing the increase in global temperature from loss of forest, dependence on fossil fuel and industrial pollution.

“Trapped greenhouse gases in the atmosphere cause the planet’s temperature to increase, called global warming.

“Global warming generates climate change which itself causes extreme temperatures we see now. Please don’t forget that the trapped greenhouse gases are contributed by human activity,” she said.

As observing the situation in the present time, Shariffa Sabrina said humans have failed to control their greed for profit.

Due to that greed, she said, humans have neglected the planet's health and underappreciated what has been gifted by nature.

FLOOD SITUATIONS IN MALAYSIA

Touching on the flood situations in Malaysia which were considered the annual end-of-year natural disaster, Zaki advised to be careful in planning development activities at the local level.

“For example, development in flood prone areas should be avoided and there must be an effort to preserve our forest and catchment areas.

“Erosion and sediment control measures must also be adequate and effective,” he said.

However, Zaki said the flood relief plans should be compassing for all areas and stressed on the importance of expecting the unexpected.

Hence, areas that were previously thought not to be affected also should be paid attention if the flood comes in the future.

Meanwhile, Shariffa Sabrina also acknowledged that the loss of forest areas from logging, plantations and developments led to the destructive floods at year end.

“It could be more manageable if we could address the cause of the floods and so many things can be committed by the government in Budget 2023.

“I hope to see the government issue a permanent moratorium on logging and start paying state governments to compensate for the loss of revenue from logging and save all the remaining forests that we have,” she added.

FOOD SECURITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change however does not impact not only the surrounding and environment, but less people know that food security will face the consequences as well especially on the countries that depend on agriculture as their main industry to survive.

When the harvest was not ready to be picked up, a situation also known as the ‘hungry season’, there would be no food on the table and these families would skip a meal and these climate changes often prolonged these hungry seasons in most areas.

It was concerning how climate change could affect not only the environment but also the people in terms of health and hunger.

From the website concernusa.org, it was mentioned that climate change affected both hunger and malnutrition.

Studies proved that higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in plants reduced protein, zinc and iron content.

Hence, it was estimated that 175 million people would develop zinc deficiencies and 122 million may be protein-deficient by 2050.

Zaki said it reminded him of the quote from the former president of the United States, Barack Obama that said he didn’t view climate change as an “environmental issue” but also as a “national security” issue.

“Climate change can affect various matters relating to the global supply chain, including food security.

“For example, extreme dry weather means there can be extreme droughts, affecting agriculture and food production. On the other hand, extreme wet seasons can also cause bad floods which destroy crops,” he said.

Shariffa Sabrina shared the same point of view that climate change can cause unfavourable conditions such as drought and flood to farming regions which will in turn cause loss of harvests and food production.

“Plus, not only zinc, but hundreds of millions will also experience iron deficiency due to difficulties sourcing these nutrients from their regular diet,” she added.

From the natural disasters itself, we have witnessed hundreds of thousands of lives claimed and how many of them had lost their own place called home.

That was how big the impact of natural disaster due to climate change on the world’s population was.

As we could observe by our very own eyes, nature has shown significant changes throughout the years where more floods and more unpredictable weather often hit the country.

Therefore, this information should be highly looked up from all sectors, especially government agencies or organisations who often approved development projects at the cost of our mother Earth.

More awareness should be spread and should not be taken lightly as there are no more places for humans to live except on the Earth and we should never take it for granted on what God has blessed us with.

Earth and nature shall be protected, not to be destroyed.