September Issue 2010
Interview: Dr Pervaiz Amir, environmental expert
“This period of floods and intense rains will be followed by droughts”
– Dr Pervaiz Amir, environmental and agricultural expert
Q: Are these floods a freak phenomenon or do they tie in with predictions of climate change?
A: They very much tie in with what was predicted by the IPCC in 2007: frequent floods, fewer but more intense monsoon rains. This 20- to 30- year period will be followed by droughts.
Q: Where has the task force failed in communicating the gravity of the situation to policymakers and planners?
A: I think very few people pay heed and there is general ignorance and apathy within the government. We have said the right things, over and over again. It is inaction on the part of the government. There was sufficient warning given. Incidentally, if you look on the web, our Met department gave a polite assessment that this would be normal monsoon year. See how normal it was?
Q: Was there ever a plan to ‘devolve’ this information to the lowest levels of administration to preempt this disaster? Wherein lies the failure — in the communication plan or at the end of the implementers?
A: There isn’t even an action plan for the government. We have not reached that stage, let alone capacity-building. We can only devolve this information if we first recognise the problem, have a set of guidelines to take to the people and make this a national priority, which it is not. Earlier this year I gave a talk on Copenhagen at SDPI (Sustainable Development Policy Institute). The PPP Information Secretary Fauzia Wahab and Farzana Raja said it was the first time they were hearing about climate change. To them, it is not even listed in the 10 most important things that worries their government.
Q: If this is a sign of more to come, what next?
A: Based on the best science, I can say this is just the tip of the iceberg.
A freelance journalist, with an experience of print, electronic and web media. She writes, and trains media on climate change, gender and labour issues, as well as media ethics.