Sea Level Rise, Persistent Drought Sets off Mass Migration and Famine in Pakistan

Both surface water and ground water have become unusable, with the once fertile Indus river basin turning into a desert, as sea water brings sand inland as far as 50 kilometers.World Bulletin in June of 2014

*   *   *   *

For the cities, towns and villages of Sindh Province along the Indus River in Southeast Pakistan, the seas are rising and the winter rains have failed. It is a place besieged on all sides by climate change. By forces that are killing its children due to malnutrition and turning tens of thousands of its populace into climate change refugees.

Coastal Villages in Pakistan Retreat Ahead of Rising Seas

(Coastal villages in Pakistan retreat ahead of rising seas. Image source: Ali Murtaza)

Climate Change, Loss of Trees, Loss of Children

A combination of rising temperatures and decimation of local forests due to gum extraction has exacerbated an extraordinary moisture deficit for an already arid region. In early spring of 2014, the impacts to crops resulted in scores of children dying due to malnutrition. By late fall, the famine had returned with increased intensity, resulting in the loss of nearly 300 children in less than three months. A tragic loss that may well have been avoided.

Increased aridity in the region can be blamed on a number of factors — all related to human-caused climate change. Gum extraction from Gugral trees has resulted in losses of up to 70 percent from local stands. The loss of these tens of thousands of trees has, in turn, resulted in less water retention kicking off increased aridity. Meanwhile, larger global climate change is resulting in higher temperatures over the region — increasing evaporation rates and further lowering soil moisture content. Glacier loss in the Himalayas has recently pushed a surge of added water down the Indus — which helped to boost development unsustainably. Now glacial outflows are at risk of dwindling, threatening the long-term future of the Indus itself. Finally, the increasing global heat is kicking off alterations in seasonal rain patterns — making the winter rains less reliable.

Sea Level Rise Ruins Coastal Crops, Sets off Mass Migration

The combined factors would be difficult enough for Sindh and its cities to manage. But a final factor appears to be delivering another disruptive coup de grace. As of mid 2014, environmental reports had indicated a mass migration away from Pakistani coastal regions.

Indus Delta

(Not a cloud above the once-fertile but now increasingly salt-ridden Indus Delta on 14 January 2014. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

Rising seas had resulted in increasing levels of salt water in near-coast aquifers and wetlands. The rising salt levels in soils made irrigation of coastal crops impossible in many regions. Within just a few years, the elevated seas had rendered 1 million hectares of land arid — making it impossible for farmers to grow crops or to raise animals.

According to a June 2014 report by World Bulletin:

Both surface water and ground water have become unusable, with the once fertile Indus river basin turning into a desert, as sea water brings sand inland as far as 50 kilometers.

In addition, saltwater invasions of the Indus river reduced fish stocks. This sudden loss of water useful to agriculture and precipitous fall in fish stocks suddenly put many farmers and fishermen out of work.

By mid 2014, more than 100,000 people had fled the coast. Now, these tens of thousands of jobless farmers and fishermen pack the streets of inland towns — seeking jobs and places to live that simply may not be available.

But what this litany of harsh statistics doesn’t tell is how many of the children lost came from families of those displaced by rising seas.

Sadly, this issue of river deltas losing fertility to the inexorably rising tide is not just a problem for Pakistan. Many of the worlds most productive agricultural zones lie in delta regions. At this point, all are under threat due to speeding sea level rise set off by rising rates of glacial melt. And as we have seen in Brazil, California and Pakistan this year other increasing atmospheric temperatures, climate induced weather pattern changes and deforestation (Brazil, Pakistan) also play a role.


Rising Seas Force 100,000 Pakistanis From Coastal Homes

Another Child Dies of Famine in Tharparkar Due to Malnutrition

Sindh Region of Pakistan

Famine Hits Thar

Thousands of Trees Lost in Thar


Glacial Melt Will Reduce Crucial Water Supplies

Hat Tip to Colorado Bob

Hat Tip to Andy in San Diego

Hat Tip to Planet in Danger

Leave a comment


  1. Indeed, Robert.
    The drastic nature of our fossil fuel folly is becoming more apparent every day now.
    Thanks for staying on top of things.

    – CNN has this today:

    The climate is ruined. So can civilization even survive?
    David Ray Griffin, Special for CNN

    CNN) Although most of us worry about other things, climate scientists have become increasingly worried about the survival of civilization. For example, Lonnie Thompson, who received the U.S. National Medal of Science in 2010, said that virtually all climatologists “are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization.”

    The threat to civilization comes primarily from the increase of the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, due largely to the burning of fossil fuels.

  2. The Guardian covers two new papers on the rush to Ecocide.

    “It’s clear the economic system is driving us towards an unsustainable future and people of my daughter’s generation will find it increasingly hard to survive,” he said. “History has shown that civilisations have risen, stuck to their core values and then collapsed because they didn’t change. That’s where we are today.”

    • Stop burning the fracking fossil fuels, change how we use land, work to pull carbon out of the system. Live gently. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of time before we’re all in the sacrifice zone.

    • mikkel

       /  January 15, 2015

      I enjoy how blunt he is:

      “Some people say we can adapt due to technology, but that’s a belief system, it’s not based on fact. There is no convincing evidence that a large mammal, with a core body temperature of 37C, will be able to evolve that quickly. Insects can, but humans can’t and that’s a problem.”

      “It’s clear the economic system is driving us towards an unsustainable future and people of my daughter’s generation will find it increasingly hard to survive,” he said. “History has shown that civilisations have risen, stuck to their core values and then collapsed because they didn’t change. That’s where we are today.”

  3. – Then there is the US Congress — the supreme leaders of suicidal folly:

    Home | Policy | Energy & Environment

    Senate to vote on whether climate change is happening

    • Insanity summed up by this headline

      Ted Cruz, Longtime Foe Of NASA And Science, Will Oversee NASA And Science In New Congress

    • You have got to be kidding me. This is going to go down in history as the most stupid Congress ever.

      • Ouse M.D.

         /  January 15, 2015

        As if it counted….
        Bipartisanism and conflicting messages from the two contenders work in the direction
        of paralyzing voters.
        Each side has its role to play, but behind the curtains are sitting a feast by the same table.

        • Well, if the electorate gave us much more in the way of liberals and democrats, we’d be far, far better off. Republicans are fighting science, reality, and responsible action directly. I’d rather deal with a few foot draggers than that any day of the week. At least with dems I can light a fire under their butts. With republicans, they are living in a bubble universe while they actively work to wreck the real one.

      • Mark from New England

         /  January 15, 2015

        Yes, but I for one think this is a brilliant move by Bernie Sanders, who proposed it. We’ll know who to target, but not in the Sarah Palin way… I’m interested to see how Kelly Ayotte votes on it.

    • Mark from New England

       /  January 15, 2015

      Some of the comments to the original article, though, make one wonder if humanity is meant to survive.

      • My bet is that about half are from conservative think tank types like those at Heartland. The majority of the American public now accepts the scientific consensus. You just get this distortion on the net b/c of what basically amounts to marketing campaigns.

      • Be sure that their are scores of comment ‘ringers’ monitoring public climate dialogues who are on station just to pounce, and counter, on any truths that surface.

        DT Minister of Counter-Propaganda at Large

      • Burgundy

         /  January 16, 2015

        Propaganda seems to be running amok, I’ve never seen anything like it. My take is that both our natural and artificial systems are falling apart and keeping the BAU narrative going is becoming increasingly difficult. The systemic response is to step up control and increase the level of propaganda to keep the narrative alive. But this is now approaching absurdity and the narrative becomes less believable everyday.

        An example; I was watching Sky News (not that I believe anything they say) and they where talking about arming the British Police because of what happened in Paris (even though the Police in France are all armed). They had an expert on that didn’t see the necessity of arming the Police. But, when he started using the US and gun happy cops as a negative example, Sky News started fading his voice so it was difficult to hear what he was saying, when he got back on narrative the sound returned. This was followed by the news regarding introducing new surveillance and anti-privacy laws in the UK (again on the back of the Paris incident) and another expert, this time an ex-MI5 officer. When she strayed off narrative and started saying that even the MI5 had said the existing laws were sufficient and no new ones need be introduced, she was simply frozen on screen, the story dropped and they moved onto the next news article.

        Basically it is becoming impossible for the System to maintain the narrative without resorting to obvious and extreme methods which are distorting reality and causing cognitive dissonance in the general population.

    • Andy in San Diego

       /  January 16, 2015

      A) Why are they voting? They have already come to their conclusion.
      B) How does a gaggle of politicians voting determine what nature is doing?

      So if they vote “no”, then the trend lines will instantly return to normal? I am aghast that we have entrusted our survivability with these buffoons.

      • Oh and it is epic buffoonery. At least the captain on the Titanic didn’t hold a vote to determine whether or not the ship was sinking and to at least send some of the people to life boats so there would actually be survivors…

      • Another way to look at it:

        Senators could be forced to state their views on climate change

        Republican-controlled Congress may have to enter denial of global warming into public record as part of Keystone debate
        – by Al Jazeera Staff

        United States senators may soon have to state, for the congressional record, whether they think climate change is real, thanks to an amendment from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., that will be included in this week’s Senate debate on the Keystone XL pipeline bill.

        Sanders’ “sense of Congress” amendment will ask members for their opinion on five statements: climate change is real; climate change is caused by human activities; climate change has already caused devastating problems in the United States…

      • Andrew Dodds

         /  January 16, 2015

        Actually, regarding the Titanic..

        The interesting thing is that the Captain, on realizing that the ship was sinking (and that he was responsible) did very little to help – he issues a terribly counterproductive evacuation order (‘Women and Children first’) and then retreats to the bridge.

        Whereas had he acted better.. every lifeboat could have been packed over official capacity without much regard for who was being packed in – the main issue at first was finding enough people to get in the lifeboats. Basically, the theoretical maximum survivors was ~1400 (overcrowded lifeboats, but if you include children this is reasonable), but the actual number was 705. And a big chunk of that was because of ‘Women and Children first’, followed by a huge lack of leadership – certainly, none of those ‘heroic’ men in 1st and 2nd class need have died.

        I’m not quite sure how this relates to climate and environmental issues, except as a note that just because some are doomed, we should not be fatalistic about everyone.

        • If we are talking about climate change, no-one needed to die at all. But if we are using the Titanic metaphor, the second burner was already lit. So, sadly, there will at least be some losses.

          To continue the metaphor, regardless of how absent the captain’s leadership was on the Titanic, the current leadership is worse. In essence denying the ship is even sinking at all. Meanwhile, we have a subset of investors angling to profit from the whole thing, establishing a kind of extreme moral hazard for which there are few corollaries in history.

          These are the ones deluded enough to believe there is such a thing as a safe haven under continued BAU burning. And this is where the metaphor falls apart, because go far enough down that path and there really are no effective lifeboats.

          To the point of women and children first… I certainly believe that a better executed and led evacuation could have both saved more lives and ensured that most or even all innocents (women and children) were saved. In this, I think that the sentiment of the captain was at least just. So he becomes a bit of a tragic figure who, though failing to lead well is at least forgiveable due to possessing a shred of compassion.

          Today, we seem to have leaders who possess no regard for innocents and, in many cases, work to actively inflict harm upon them, or even revile them.

          To this point, I have often wondered at Republicans, who these days seem to do everything they can to make people poor and then turn around and dump such hatred upon them. It is as if, lacking a group to revile, they create one just for that purpose. This may be by design, or through ignorance. But it is the result of their actions all the same.

          And, sadly, going back to the Titanic story metaphor, we do see a similar kind of action to what we are now seeing today. For they locked the disadvantaged down in steerage, condemning them to drown. And it is that bit of ugliness that is all the more apparent today.

  4. Scribbler,
    Very surprised you did not mention Himalayan glacier melt and river volume as part of the problem. Much of the region got an unsustainable “boost” from higher river volumes over the past two decades but, as glaciers melt out and river volumes drop from that and the impact of desertification and accelerating evapotranspiration, then there is less river volume to flush low-lying areas out and they are thus much more susceptible to salt water infiltration.

    In trying to describe the interlocking systems of the earth (all of which are in accelerating decline), I often fall back on the mechanical watch as metaphor. You cannot damage even a couple gears without affecting the whole of the finely balanced piece. In Pakistan we are seeing the net result of many gears that are now dysfunctional.

    Thanks for your work.

    • Cheers for this additional information. As climate change alters so many systems in such profound ways, it is often quite difficult to cast the net wide enough to catch all causes. This is the primary reason I wholeheartedly encourage contributions in the comments — like this one.



  5. wili

     /  January 15, 2015

    Is there an official tally somewhere for how many climate refugees there are? I realize that a lot of them will always be under the radar–people who just decide things are getting to hot or wet or dry or otherwise scary and pack up and leave without being part of any disaster. But clear cases like this could be added up with a fudge factor added (perhaps with some poling and statistical magic?).

    Anyway, if anyone knows of such a data base, I’d appreciate a linky.

  6. Dave Person

     /  January 16, 2015

    Just as a side note of levity concerning Bernie Sanders. Back when he first became mayor of Burlington Vermont, he drove an old 1965 Dodge Dart, one of the ugliest cars in history. On the first day of work as mayor, he parked his car in the mayor’s spot, and it was towed away. No one could believe the mayor drove such a crummy car.


  7. Gerald Spezio

     /  January 16, 2015

    Jan. 14, 2015; To my beautiful 29 yr old daughter, her husband, & two ebullient smiling children, 5 & 3

    Here is a recent definitive article about climate change going bonkers by prestigious environment writer, Dahr Jamail.

    Dahr Jamail is both an impeccably honest man & a clear communicator.

    I have studying global heating since 2005, & there is nothing in Jamail’s piece that is not on point & thoroughly evidenced by sound scientific research.

    I have read all of the scientific studies backing up Jamail’s piece.

    The science is all too clear & very rudimentary.

    The only question is how soon will the game be played out right IN FRONT OF US ALL.


    It can only accelerate more & more.

    The last 4 years have astonished all scientific observers.

    This year will tell us what will happen to us, but you can’t depend on main stream media.

    I informed many of my friends about this ghastly phenomenon as early as 2008 after full grasping Shakhova’s early predictions.

    Her gruesome predictions have been confirmed.

    Science is prediction, experimental test, & possible confirmation of the predictions.

    If you look at the comments under Natalia Shakhova’s prescient Youtube video from 2012; you will see several of my comments for the last 2 years.

    Again, our only defense is to make the most of every day; & live it fully.

    Geo-engineering will not save us from heat death.

    It is hardest for you because of Jaydn & Brandon.

    Be thankful that you got to the truth sooner than later.

    It will get crazier & crazier …

    Love, love, love is all that is left … really.

    Dahr Jamail; The Methane Monster Roars

  8. Andy in San Diego

     /  January 16, 2015
  9. Andy in San Diego

     /  January 16, 2015

    Looks like the Kiwi’s don’t want to be left out on the whole “effects of climate change” carnival ride.

    “New Zealand faces drought if rain brushes past”

    • There are strong meridional flows in the Southern Hemisphere as well.

    • messtime

       /  January 16, 2015

      Thanks for posting this . . . Reminds me to go check the water level in our reservoir held by an old earthen dam up in Whau Valley. This reservoir provides most of the water for the town of Whangarei, NZ where i live. Has not rained here lately very much . . . I haven’t paid much attention.

  10. Andy in San Diego

     /  January 16, 2015

    So…. Sen Onhofe says that humans can’t influence the climate and cause such things as droughts, only god can (and a republican god at that, or 2 lobbyists perhaps).

    Does this article mean god hates Oklahoma and/or Sen Inhofe?

    “Drought-Stricken Oklahoma Communities Dealing With Prospect of Dead Lakes”

    • Andy in San Diego

       /  January 16, 2015

      “Oklahoma City will need to take even more water from the reservoir, which is close to being tapped out. The very bottom layer of water in the lake is never supposed to be used, but Wooley says it can be with special permission from the governor.”

      Starting on the Sao Paolo redux?

    • climatehawk1

       /  January 16, 2015

      Thanks, tweet scheduled.

    • It says in Revelation that God will have no mercy for the destroyers of the Earth… Inhofe is lake of fire ground zero.

      • Revelation 11:18 God will reward his servants and will “destroy those who destroy the earth.” See also Isaiah 51:6.

        • If you wish to be a prophet, then spread this message far and wide. That to keep safe the Earth is to serve The Lord. And that to be counted among its destroyers is to be an enemy of Christ.

    • Weir Bohnd

       /  January 16, 2015

      Sen. Dummkopf seemeth not to remember that strange are the ways of the lord, as wiser men have observed. Mayeth the lord have thought to test his braying subjects by stuffing a huge and lethal excess of hydrocarbons in the crust.

      I tend to think of it as the old prick set us up to be a self-terminating experiment. Praise the Lord and pass the dilbit.

  11. climatehawk1

     /  January 16, 2015

    Good post, tweet scheduled.

  12. Reblogged this on jpratt27.

  13. Jaron

     /  January 16, 2015

    Perhaps the best example of state sponsored madness comes from the derelict, current Prime Minister of Australia, who publicly claims coal is good for humanity and whose campaign was largely funded by Gina Rhinehart, the world’s richest female climate vandal. Seriously scary stuff. George W Bush 2.0

  14. Heat Wave, or a Heat Tsunami? 2014 Set the Record

    Ten of the hottest years ever have occurred in the past 18 years. Scientists say the trend is ‘driven by greenhouse gases.’

    The year 2014 was officially the hottest year since records began, federal scientists announced on Friday, part of a long-term warming trend driven by the burning of fossil fuels.

    Ten of the warmest years ever have occurred since 1997.

  1. “Everything I Dreamed of is Gone” — How Climate Change is Spurring a Global Refugee Crisis to Rapidly Worsen | robertscribbler

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