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Despite the horrific experience of 2015 heat wave which resulted in the death of around 1200 innocent people in Karachi, no preventive measures were taken by the government to counter it this year as well like every year.
Last week, around 65 people were reported dead in Karachi by Edhi Foundation due to the intense heat wave and temperatures as high as 44 degree Celsius. Faisal Edhi, the head of the charity which runs Karachi’s central morgue, told Reuters that most of the dead in the city were laborers belonging to poor neighborhoods.
In an attempt to help themselves and moved by these deaths, several groups of youngsters and students of different universities have started a campaign called ‘KARACHI NEEDS TREES’ with the aim to plant around 300 to 500 heat-absorbing trees all around Karachi.
Hashtag #KarachiNeedsTrees has been trending on social media for a few days and became one of the top trends on Twitter for some time. Through this hashtag, they are promoting the importance of plantation for Karachi and making people aware of how trees can help reduce the scorching heat and high temperatures.
Here, I am listing down a few reasons why planting trees is the need of the hour for Karachi:
1. Trees are natural air conditioners. By planting trees around our houses, we can reduce the use of air conditioners by up to 50 percent. As a result, energy consumption will decrease and will ultimately reduce carbon dioxide and other pollute emissions from power plants.
2. Forests are the lungs of a land as they purify the air. Afforestation is the only solution of all our environmental issues including global warming, smog and soil erosion.
3. Availability of oxygen is what human and animal life depends on. Trees and plants augment the supply of oxygen in the atmosphere.
4. Trees can cool the scorching city by shading our homes and streets, breaking urban heat islands and releasing water vapor into the air through their leaves.
5. Trees help in reducing air temperature by blocking sunlight. When water evaporates from the leaves, further cooling occurs. This conversion of water into vapours removes heat energy from the air.
It is not only about planting trees in Karachi, rather it is about planting the right species of trees. Not all plants can bear the intense heat of Karachi. Moreover, rains are rare and there is the scarcity of water in the city, so we have to water the trees we plant ourselves. Trees like Neem, Amaltas (Indian Laburnum) and Gulmohar (Flame of the Forest) are some of the most ideal trees to be planted in Karachi as they need less water and provide shade as well.
Trees can be planted at all times but the best time for plantation is during the days of moderate weather. When the weather is extremely cold or hot, planting trees should be avoided. Hence, for Karachiites, the most appropriate time for planting is around February and March, when the weather is pleasant.
Initiatives like #KarachiNeedsTrees are commendable and must be promoted as much as we can. We must all participate in this campaign and the likes by planting at least one tree in the close vicinity of our homes. After all, planting trees is the only way we can save our city and our people from this sweltering heat.
In the words of Thomas Fuller, “He that plants trees love other besides himself.”