a

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa cum sociis Theme natoque.

Latest Posts

1-677-124-44227
184 Main Collins Street West Victoria 807
[email protected]
Image Alt

Climate Change, Media, and Rural Pakistan

Climate Change, Media, and Rural Pakistan

By Noor Tariq

Climate change is one of the most important issues facing Pakistan currently. It is not just an issue of combating something that is a natural happening; instead it is a show of human morality. The wretched of the earth – the poor – always suffer the most at the hands of a calamity. Climate change isn’t just about more natural disasters coming our way; instead it is about the loss of life that will occur when food and water supplies run out, due to mere negligence and lack of efforts at the humans end. It is therefore the responsibility of the privileged and the nation as a whole, to take effective measures to protect the most vulnerable of our society, so they do not go through more injustice. At the same time, it is our responsibility to make sure the world is a more livable place for the generations to come. But how can that be achieved when 60% of Pakistan’s population does not even know the definition of climate change? That is the main problem facing us at this time; the lack of awareness.

For a country like Pakistan, that is heavily dependent on its agricultural sector, strict measure must be taken timely to minimize the effects of climate change as the consequences will damage the economy as a whole.

Climate change is caused due to the greenhouse effect. Certain gasses, such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, trap heat in the earth. This additional heat hampers all the natural processes going on on our planet. The greenhouse gasses heat the oceans up, causing a change in our wind pattern. All these changes lead to increasing temperatures  all around the world. This in turn causes glaciers to melt, which consequently leads to flooding.

Pakistan’s agriculture relies on the Indus River. When these glaciers melt, the amount of water present in the Indus River also changes, which negatively impacts our irrigation and agricultural practices.

Since climate change has caused longer summers, the pattern of water present in the Indus has also changed. However, because of very low awareness, our agricultural practices are still based on the old schedule of the Indus River. If the Indus provides water before expected, crops get affected negatively in Pakistan. Moreover, famines caused by global warming in Thar and Baluchistan, and heat strokes for the same reason in Karachi have not only killed many, but have also displaced numerous people as a result.

Hence, it is important to cut down on the emission of greenhouse gasses collectively. To achieve that, we need to save energy, adapt a greener lifestyle, reduce waste and recycle and drive smartly. Moreover, it is also important to start adapting to climate change so we are more prepared to face the changes caused by it.

To create awareness, the most important tool that can be utilized is the media. This awareness isn’t only important for farmers or those directly involved in the agricultural sector, instead this awareness is essential for everyone living in the country because climate change cannot be dealt with alone; it’s only solution is for everyone to contribute to battling it together.

 

Pakistani Media and Climate Change

We all remember the amount of ads we saw on television after Covid-19 struck our lives. Media became the main source of information on the pandemic, not just by creating awareness regarding the pandemic, but also consequently helping slow down the rate at which it spread. Hence, one cannot deny the importance of medias role in setting agendas for the public in Pakistan. It helps create public awareness about issues and educates people on what they can do to fight these issues. It is the main tool to disperse information to large publics and get the public in touch with the government. Considering the power of media, it can play an active role in bringing about public awareness on climate change. It serves as a great medium to keep everyone, despite their social statuses, on the same page.

Pakistani Medias contribution to climate change has been very limited. Only 343 news articles on climate change were published from 2011 to 2018 in Pakistan. Out of these articles, 60% were based on the expected changes climate change will bring and how to solve these issues, while 35% were criticizing either the government or the legislators, leaving the last 5% to some appreciation given to the government.

At the same time however, it is appreciable how Pakistani media covered the 2015 heatwaves and the 2016 smog by reporting on the issues timely. The media, to some extent also does its job at informing farmers in far flung areas about the weather conditions so precautionary measures can be taken to protect the crops.

Similarly, The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority instructed TV channels to play public service messages in regards to the importance of saving water and collecting funds for Muhmad Dam. Owing to this, media organizations were told to give one minute per hour to public service messages between morning shows and do the same during prime time from 7pm to 12pm for public service messages to raise funds for the dam.

The problem with this is that most of these articles or public service messages do not highlight the causes of climate change. Informing people cannot bring about any good if they, in the first place, do not even know what climate change is and what exactly causes it. This kind of information serves as a short term solution to a long term problem.

In contrast, Sweden, one of the leaders of climate change management in the world, published 85,000 articles in just a matter of one year, prioritizing climate change over even the football World Cup in Russia.

Similarly, Africa, a third world country like Pakistan, with mostly underprivileged people residing in rural areas, also uses its print media majorly to inform people about changes in the environment and its impact on humans, but at the same time also utilizes television channels and FM radio stations to provide information to the public.

This clearly goes to show the potential and impact of media in creating awareness and combating social development issues, coupled with the right policies from the governments end. A majority of people belonging to rural areas prefer television as a source of obtaining information. They also heavily rely on people from their community who they trust as a reliable source. This suggests that television is a medium that can not only target people belonging to urban areas but can also be used to create awareness for those living in rural areas.

A research conducted in 2018 concluded that many Pakistani journalists believed the media does not talk about climate change at a national level, instead coverage to climate change issues is only given when an event happens. Even then, it’s mainly the happenings of the event that are covered, climate change and its effects are not addressed directly.

Another problem is that Pakistani media usually covers climate change issues when the international media does. They are heavily dependent on foreign news agencies for news regarding climate change, considering almost 90% of the climate change stories published in “The News” were driven from foreign news organizations in the given research period. Similarly, Dawn News published photos taken by British news agency, Reuters, to show victims of the 2010 floods in Pakistan.

Since most news is taken from foreign agencies and presents climate change with no local relevance, it sounds like climate change is not an issue of concern for Pakistan; it’s the issue of the West to deal with, which severely undermines the effectiveness that could be created through media. It is therefore important to make all news regarding climate change locally relatable so people do not consider it a foreign issue.

On the other hand, electronic media is dominated by political news and there is no space for climate change related issues. News regarding climate change is only considered important when a huge event happens, so that is also the only time it is reported. Numerous western countries treat climate change as a political problem as well. However, the same is not seen in Pakistani Medias discourse. This again makes climate change seem like a small issue.

Lastly, there is the issue of reporters and journalists not having enough knowledge about climate change for them to disseminate information on it. Reporters don’t have access to far flung areas; they don’t have transportation to reach an area affected by climate change to bring it to the public’s attention. They also do not have enough equipment or enough training to deal with an issue as sensitive, even if they want to.

All in all, the power of media to educate and consequently protect the underprivileged living in rural areas of Pakistan is not utilised at all. The impact of media can be seen to have very minimal effect on those residing in urban areas, so those living in rural areas are not even part of the picture yet. However, sadly, the underprivileged are also the ones who will be and are affected by the effects of climate change the most, as their livelihood depends on agriculture. .

 

Solutions

It is true that climate change cannot be stopped with the efforts of just one country. The world needs to come together to fight with this global issue. It is also true that climate change is an easier issue to deal with for developed countries than it is for developing countries. Despite that, small steps and tiny efforts can go a long way in making big changes. However, none of that can be achieved without the help of media.

Firstly, the government should utilize community radio and TV channels because both these mediums are operating to serve the public.

Secondly, it is noted that people without an educated background have a hard time understanding complex notions such as climate change. Hence, radio transmissions, designed in relevance to local issues, such as bad crop yielding and flooding are the only way to get them to take steps towards battling climate change. Radio transmissions should firstly educate, in the simplest of terms, what climate change really is and then present it in such a way that highlights how the rural population will directly have an advantage if they help fight it. Most people in Pakistan being victims of poverty only care about their bread and butter. So, it is important to show them that climate change and their bread and butter are dependent upon each other.

Thirdly, campaigns should be designed specifically for different parts of Pakistan, undergoing different problems. For example, areas facing flooding in Pakistan should have different newspaper articles regarding climate change than those that are affected by droughts, so that people can relate to the problems on a personal level.

Fourthly, government should host street theatres in rural areas, in which skits made by designated NGOs in collaboration with the government regarding climate change as well as other issues facing Pakistan can be displayed. This will help the audience emotionally understand the consequences of climate change better.

Fifthly, programs such as Ecosystem Restoration Fund, Billion Tree Tsunami and the banning of plastic bags should all be advertised on radio, television and print media. The reason as to why these programs are being carried out should also be explained. Imposing a restriction on plastic bag usage will not be very effective if people don’t know why they are being banned. So, the reasons behind the campaign and how it will help people in the long run will cause more people to take action.

In addition, since it has been established that television is also widely viewed in the rural areas, short reminders can pop up on television while an in demand drama serial is being aired, just like time checks are shown on TV. The reminder could be a small message about conserving water or reducing food wastage. When something is repeatedly viewed by the audience, it becomes stuck in their head and unconsciously makes them make more conscious decisions. A drama serial about a certain climate change issue could also prove to be very beneficial, as it can depict emotions and be extremely relatable for those residing in rural areas.

Moreover, training should be given to local journalists so they can communicate the message in layman terms to their respective audiences in their respective languages to maximize the impact.

Lastly, with every segment on weather forecasts, a small segment highlighting climate change should also be made compulsory for every channel to have. An example can be the Dam fund public service messages. Following the same pattern as discussed before, directions should be given to all TV channels, print media houses and radio stations to fix certain prime time segments for climate change awareness.

It is safe to say, media hasn’t utilized its full potential to create public awareness regarding climate change. Although small efforts have been made, however due to a lack of resources and interest in the topic, it has been heavily neglected. Even urban areas are not receiving enough coverage about climate change, so it goes without saying that rural areas are suffering too. Without the government’s efforts, the climate change issue in Pakistan cannot be resolved. However, small initiatives taken at individual level can make a lot of difference too. Be sure to minimize the consumption of plastic and fuel, as well as reduce food wastage, since making small conscious efforts can go a long way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Why has the number of climate articles in Swedish media doubled in four years? (2019, May 17). Retrieved from The Local : https://www.thelocal.se/20190517/number-of-climate-articles-in-swedish-media-doubles/

Boykoff, M. T., & Boykoff, J. M. (2007, November). Climate change and journalistic norms: A case-study of US mass-media coverage. Geoforum, 38(6), 1190-1204. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2007.01.008

Corner, D. (2011). Hidden Heat: Communicating Climate Changes in Uganda. Panos: Panos Eastern Africa.

Eide, E., & Kunelius, R. (2012). Media Meets Climate: The Global Challenge for Journalism. Gothenburg: Nordicom.

Hannan, M. A., Saleem, N., Ali, A., & Mukhtar, S. (2016). Role of Media in Strengthening Democracy in. A Research Journal of South Asian Studies, 31(1), 331-345.

Javed, M. N., Basit, A., & Hussain, T. (2020). Climate Change in the Mainstream Pakistani Press: Coverage and Framing. Global Political Review, 5(1), 192-204. doi:10.31703/gpr.2020(V-I).22

Khan, S. (2018, August 9). Pemra ‘advises’ channels to allocate ad spots, hold fundraising telethons for dams. Retrieved from Dawn: https://www.dawn.com/news/1425959

Riaz, D. (2018). ROLE OF MEDIA IN CLIMATE. Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences, 38(1), 152-165.

Sharif, A., & Medvecky, F. (2018). Climate change news reporting in Pakistan: a qualitative. Journal of Science Communication, 17(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.22323/2.17010203

Zaheer, K., & Colom, A. (2014). How the people of Pakistan live with climate. Climate Asia.

 

Leave a Reply:

You don't have permission to register