Pakistan, the fifth most populated country in the world, is currently experiencing a climate change crisis caused by flooding. According to an article published by the Disasters Emergency Committee, a third of Pakistan — an area the size of the United Kingdom — is submerged in what UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres referred to as a "climate catastrophe."
Pakistan has seen significant precipitation since mid-June 2022. According to an article published by TheConversation, this extreme flooding has been identified as one of the most widespread and disastrous floods in the country's history, with the climate minister, Sherry Rehman, declaring that the waters have swept across one-third of the country.
Extreme monsoon season is the source of the flooding. Pakistan is located on the far western edge of the South Asian monsoon region and has a predominantly desert environment. It is rarely affected by the offshoot of the monsoon and receives significantly less precipitation than regions of India at the same latitudes.
An article by BritishRedCross reports that Pakistan witnessed a new extreme in April, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius and setting a record. On a single day, the nation experienced one of the highest temperatures recorded: 49 degrees Celsius.
ALJAZEERA explains that Pakistan's meteorological circumstances have placed the country in a vulnerable position where weather patterns are no longer predictable, emphasising that earlier this year, Sindh and Balochistan were afflicted by unprecedented heatwaves and months-long droughts.
However, from mid-June to late August, Pakistan had record rainfall in several bursts, with significant portions of the nation receiving 500% to 700% of its average August precipitation.
According to an article published by earthobservatory, the worst flooding occurred along the Indus River in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Sindh. This year, it has rained five to six times as much in Balochistan and Sindh as it normally does. Most of that precipitation originated from monsoon rains in the summer.
More than 33 million people have been affected by the flooding. Over one million homes have been demolished, with 81 out of 160 districts directly affected by the floods. At least 1,100 individuals were killed by the floodwater, including roughly 360 children. The damage cost will surpass $10 billion. According to TheConversation, this could wreak more havoc on the nation's economy,
According to BloombergUK, the disruption to food supply caused by the flooding would likely increase the need for imports and put pressure on global agricultural markets. Bloomberg explains that over forty percent of the labour force are employed in the farming sector, which accounts for roughly one-fifth of the GDP.
Dr. Sheng Lu, associate professor of fashion and apparel studies at the University of Delaware, talks with Just Style. She claims that Pakistan is the world's fifth-largest cotton producer, with most of its output exported to Bangladesh and China, which account for half of the global total. Moreover, Pakistan also exports cotton garments to the EU and Bangladesh, and cotton yarn mainly to China and Bangladesh. In 2021, the United States accounted for 5% of Pakistan's raw cotton exports and 3.8% of its exports of cotton fabrics.
In addition, Apparel Insider, reports that the devastating floods in Pakistan have severely destroyed the country's cotton crop. Local reports indicate that 40 to 45 percent of the cotton crop has been submerged in the central cotton-producing provinces of Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan. The flooding could result in a substantial decline in cotton production, putting more strain on the global market's supply and raising prices.
Furthermore, Pakistan is the primary supplier for the global market, but the crucial question is why the fashion industry remained silent during the crisis. According to SANVT Journal, cotton achieved an eighty percent share of the global market. It has caused profound cultural and technological transformations. It gave rise to the textile industry and, later, a fashion industry, paving the way for introducing new items and the widespread marketing of fashion across all social strata.
Shahmiruk emphasises on Instagram how the fashion industry is apathetic to the climate crisis in Pakistan, saying, “All this talk of sustainability and diversity, yet the most pressing issue of human civilisation is met with silence because a lack of humility sustains western practises & politics. So quickly did fashion designers, publications & companies rally behind social justice issues and efforts in the west, even though their entire sector depends on the work of the global south, of Pakistanis and others”.
The issue is not the fashion industry's involvement in sustainability and diversity, but rather the lack of empathy and support for the climate crisis in Pakistan, given that they are the primary suppliers of cotton to the industry and cotton's indispensable role in the market industry.
The fashion industry has assisted countries that have experienced hardship. During the Australian wildfire crisis, fashion brands donated to the Australian Wildfire Relief Fund. According to an article by Bustle, several corporations partnered with multiple organisations to contribute a portion or the entirety of their revenue over some time. In addition, fashion brands and organisations should collaborate to provide support to Pakistan during its current climate crisis in order to aid the afflicted people whose homes have been destroyed by the floods.
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