The death toll in Pakistan stands at 1,100 but is expected to rise sharply as floods devastate the region. Officials estimate that around 33 million of the nation’s 220 million residents have been affected by the floods, with at least a million homes destroyed, over 2,000 miles of road wiped out and nearly 500,000 people trapped in displacement camps with nowhere to go and no plans for what’s next.
“I can say without any fear of contradiction, this flood situation is probably the worst in the history of Pakistan,” said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who blamed Western nations for failing to heed the warnings of climate change, which is now disproportionately impacting nations that have contributed relatively little to our rapidly warming planet.
“We want to showcase this to the developed world in particular,” said Ahsan Iqbal who is the minister for planning and development while speaking to reporters in Islamabad. “The quality of life that people in the West are enjoying today, someone is paying the price in the developing world.”
Indeed, experts do say there is a link between the rising number of extreme weather events around the world. In the past, the U.S. and other nations of similar wealth have been hesitant to take action on climate change, and that hesitancy has not only cost the planet precious time, but has been the cause of a lot of weather-related chaos in parts of the world less dependent on greenhouse gas emissions.
“This super flood is driven by climate change — the causes are international, and so the response calls for international solidarity,” Julien Harneis, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Pakistan, told the Washington Post. “We are literally on the front lines of unfolding climate catastrophe. It will happen to others later. It’s time we all took notice.”