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Adaptations to climate change effects: Pakistan and Fiji

Could the choices we make to adapt to climate change hurt us? The more humans try to control nature, the more damage they ultimately cause. For example, levees in Bangladesh only worsened the effects of recent floods, and seawalls in Japan, which failed to stop the tsunami in 2011, gave residents a false sense of security. In turn, crop insurance prevents farmers from investing in other, more sustainable forms of adaptation to climate change.

Fifteen million people, including 2 million Pakistanis, are at risk of flooding from glacial lakes. When they overflow or their banks are damaged, it causes floods in the Hindu Kush, Karakoram and Himalayan mountain ranges. To monitor the danger, residents of some Pakistani villages can track data on their mobile phones thanks to sensors installed near lakes. According to the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Himalayan glaciers will lose up to 75% of their ice by the end of the century due to global warming.

On Kioa, an island in Fiji, increasingly frequent and intense cyclones disrupt crop harvesting. Fish, a staple of the local diet, now live further from shore, in deeper waters. The beaches are disappearing, washed away by the ocean, and coconut and pandan plants, previously used as food and medicine, no longer grow there. To adapt to climate change, Kioa residents have built a breakwater on the island to protect against erosion and a “mini fishery” equipped with solar panels, freezers and an ice maker, ensuring more stable fish stocks.

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