One Week Later, We Have Already Forgotten that 33 Million People Lost Their Homes in Pakistan
One of the classic rules you learn in journalism school is that the newsworthiness of an event is inversely correlated with the distance and the number of deaths. It appears Pakistan is too far away from our hearts and minds for a flood that displaced half the population, and killed more than 1400, to affect us for more than a week. The story has disappeared from our feeds, buried by the algorithm.
If the amount of human suffering isn’t enough for us to care, perhaps the significance of the climate catastrophe should be. The floods that devastated Pakistan were caused by monsoon rains that have grown increasingly severe in recent years, and combined with the melting glaciers in Pakistan’s section of the Himalayas.
In the aftermath of the disaster, the country is facing massive food shortages, with some families reporting surviving only off government rations of rice and tea.
Authorities have warned that the flood waters could take up to six months to recede in some areas, placing people at risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera and dengue.
Climate Minister Sherry Rehman said:
“Karachi is seeing an outbreak of dengue as hundreds and thousands of patients are reporting daily at government and private hospitals. The dengue cases this year are 50% higher than last year. With 584,246 people in camps throughout the country, the health crisis could wreak havoc if it will go unchecked.”
Experts blame the extreme weather event on climate change. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited the country last week and expressed “deep solidarity with the Pakistani people over the devastating loss of life and human suffering caused by this year’s floods,” saying that climate change had led to “monsoon on steroids.”