An analysis of Pakistan’s devastating floods has found “fingerprints” of the human-made climate crisis on the disaster, which killed more than 1,500 people and destroyed so much land and infrastructure it has plunged the South Asian nation into crisis.
The analysis, published Thursday by the World Weather Attribution initiative, was unable to quantify exactly how much climate change contributed to the floods — which were caused by several months of heavy rainfall in the region — but some of its models found that the crisis may have increased the intensity of rainfall by up to 50%, when looking specifically at a five-day downpour that hit the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan hard.
The analysis also found that the floods were likely a 1-in-100-year event, meaning that there is a 1% chance of similarly heavy rainfall each year.
If the world warms by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures — as it is on course to — short rain bursts like those seen in the five-day period will likely become even more intense. The Earth is already around 1.2 degrees warmer than it was before industrialization.
The scale of the floods and the WWA analysis highlight the enormous financial need to address impacts of the climate crisis.
“The kind of assistance that’s coming in right now is a pittance,” Ayesha Siddiqi, a geographer at the University of Cambridge, told journalists at a press conference. “A number of Western economies have argued that they’re suffering their own crises, because of the war in Ukraine and various other issues.”
She described the UK’s original assistance of £1.5 million ($1.7 million) as “laughable.”
The UK has, however, increased its pledge to £15 million ($17 million) more recently. The geographical area that is now Pakistan was part of the former British colony of India until 1947, when the British partitioned the land into two separate dominions.