Pakistan’s Vulnerability to Disaster Was Through the Roof. Then Came the Floods.

And vulnerability?

You must have seen videos of all those structures being washed away — concrete structures. And of course, governance has to play a part here not only for managing and protecting the population but also for managing all this construction, even the illegal construction, to make sure it is in line with the climate of the country.

Especially the poorer and more vulnerable.

If you are poor, you are more vulnerable. If you’re poor, it means that you do not have a strong house, a well-built house. You are living in a mud house.

Much more easily washed away.

Or you are a small farmer. You have a small piece of land where you can cultivate your crops. You’re going to be stranded after the flooding. So there are many factors to vulnerability, especially poverty. But there are also very few safety nets.

That’s why Pakistan is one of the 10 countries most at risk from climate change.

I’ve heard you say elsewhere that these floods were so significant that no country in the world, no matter how rich, could’ve fared very well.

Of course, they would struggle, any country. You receive 400 percent more rainfall in a single season or 600 percent more in a single month, any part of the world would definitely struggle to cope with it. Look at the hurricanes hitting the U.S. People do struggle. But of course, in a country with resources, they would be more resilient. That’s pretty simple.

But sometimes, David, climate change surprises you. I mean, think of the 2003 heat wave in Europe. It took the whole continent off their toes. They were just not expecting it. The toll, if memory serves me well, was 70,000. They could not respond because they were caught on their heels. They were not expecting it. And the Russian heat wave 2010 — how much was it? Tens of thousands of people died.

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