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Lessons from a sinking Karachi?

Dec 26, 2022

Drawing from this timely story by Zuha Siddiqui for

December 26, 2022

Not too long ago, Karachi like Mumbai was part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency. Cyril Radcliffe’s masters – wary of India’s proximity to Russia – did not wish an independent India access close to the Middle East’s oil. That is all history. Despite being on either side of the border, we continue to invite the wrath of climate forces. What’s reportedly been happening to Karachi gets dwarfed by Mumbai. The exposure to two other port cities – Chennai and Kolkata cannot be missed either. Author Amitav Ghosh tells us in his book ‘The Great Derangement’: “The reality is that ‘growth’ in many coastal cities around the world now depends on ensuring that a blind eye is turned towards risk.’’ Most residents generally remain blissfully ignorant as to where the seven islands – that constitute Mumbai – begin and end.

Banks continue lending for the ongoing asset buildup frenzy as do insurers concentrate the risk they carry and investments they make. Mangroves are under pressure, so is whatever remains of the green cover. An exploding population, rise in number of vehicles, resulting pollution, plastic menace, et al – will only aggravate with sea level rise. Ghosh, backed by scientific research, continues to warn us about the increasing frequency and severity of cyclones on the west coast. Its possible ramifications for the two nuclear facilities in the close proximity. Needless to mention concentration of country’s financial services and likely challenges in evacuating the population in event of an emergency.

“Karachi is among the world’s least liveable cities, ranking 136th out of 140 on the Economist’s Global Liveability Index. Warning signs of the impending climate crisis ­have been compounded by local authorities’ reluctance to mitigate its harmful effects by building climate-resistant homes and buildings, and ensuring the upkeep and maintenance of the city’s storm-water drains, which are choked with plastic waste”. Can we afford to lose sight of what Zuha Siddiqui has to say in Or is it, “our collective inability to come to terms, or even imagine, the catastrophe that is currently staring us in the face from climate change. Depending on how bad it gets, present generations will remember our failure to confront reality with bafflement and probably rage”?

#strandedassets #climateemergency #biodiversity

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