Floods get a lot of attention in our warming world. They can kill people and livestock, inundate crops, destroy infrastructure and homes -- and they make great photo ops. Less attention -- and less international aid -- is directed to victims of intense heat waves that are also linked to climate change.
But it is these heat waves that are most responsible when Pakistanis leave their villages, new research suggests.
Pakistan is a depressing climate case study because its residents are so vulnerable to global warming. The country is poor, it floods easily, and it can be hotter than hell (if your idea of hell is, say, Afghanistan, just to Pakistan's north).
Researchers analyzed weather records and 21 years worth of survey data of 522 households in rural Pakistan in an attempt to figure out which extreme weather phenomena might be driving villagers from their homes. Migration rates were rather low -- about 1 or 2 percent of residents left their villages during the 21 years. But when they did leave, the reason for the migration was often linked to a heat wave. Heat waves are worsening in the region as the climate changes.