Over the past months, intensive and extensive flooding in Pakistan has been described as “monsoons on steroids” and “unprecedented.” The human toll at this point is near 1600 deaths, 11 million people driven further below poverty, and 33 million displaced. The country’s Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, described the connection to climate change. “Pakistan has never seen a more stark and devastating example of the impact of global warming. Life in Pakistan has changed forever.”
This past week, parts of Florida and nearby states were devastated by Hurricane Ian. Over 2 million people lost power, at least 119 people died, and thousands of people are expected to be displaced for a significant length of time.
Pakistani officials are asking other world leaders to establish a “Green Marshall Plan.” There are places worldwide (and in the US) that experience the effects of climate change to a greater degree than others. Most have not significantly contributed to the climate-changing greenhouse gases. According to the Global Climate Risk 2021 Analysis, “Impacts from extreme-weather events hit the poorest countries hardest.”
“The effects of climate change and environmental degradation are worsening, the tragedy of hunger and thirst is increasing, and an economic model based on individualism rather than on solitary sharing continues to prevail.” (Pope Francis). For this reason, the Pope calls on “all those with political and social responsibilities, and men and women of goodwill, to walk together with courage and creativity.” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres agrees that “the climate crisis is the defining issue of our time. It must be the first priority of every government and multilateral organization.” It is more critical than ever to vote for leaders to prioritize solutions for the climate crisis.
Julie Peller, Ph.D., is an environmental chemist (Professor of Chemistry at Valparaiso University ). Julie has been writing a weekly column for the past ~6 years called the Green Junction and is helping to move the call of Laudato Si to action forward. Her Research Interests are advanced oxidation for aqueous solutions, water quality analyses, emerging contaminants, air quality analyses, Lake Michigan shoreline challenges (Cladophora, water, and sediment contaminants), and student and citizen participation in environmental work.