Sukkur Barrage. By Ashahid83 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, link

WEF: Pakistan Climate Change Floods are the British Empire’s Fault?

Essay by Eric Worrall

Climate Reparations Required? According to the World Economic Forum, the Sukkur Barrage, a British built diversion dam which unexpectedly withstood the recent floods and saved lives, despite decades of neglect, is a scar of Pakistan’s colonial past.

What does colonialism have to do with climate change?

Sep 9, 2022

John Letzing
Digital Editor, Strategic Intelligence, World Economic Forum

Minji Sung
Data Visuals and Content Specialist, Strategic Intelligence, World Economic Forum

Flooding in Pakistan has revived interest in the relationship between the colonial past and the present climate crisis. 

When flooding amplified by climate change began to submerge nearly a third of Pakistan recently, a remnant of the country’s colonial past stood between the deluge and hundreds of thousands of people: the Sukkur Barrage.

It wasn’t certain that the 90-year-old diversion dam, a onetime engineering triumph designed by local British rulers but since cited for safety issues and described as “decrepit”, would endure – making it a potentially fatal burden and a symbol of the corrosive impact of colonialism on much of the world.

The dam held, despite Pakistan’s “monsoon on steroids”. Other outcomes have been less fortunate. A German non-profit’s list of the 10 countries most affected by climate change-related extreme weather events during the first two decades of this century includes eight former colonies (one isn’t technically a country, and remains a US territory sometimes described as a colony).

The British Raj, which included present-day Pakistan, is far from the only historical example of an exploitative colonial presence.

One means of addressing the disparity might be through reparations

Read more:

Given the dam was built 90 years ago, and it has been 75 years since the fall of the British Raj, I suggest it is probably time for the Pakistan government to pick up the tab for flood management, and do their own dam building and repairs.

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September 11, 2022 6:13 am

Plus the population has gone from around 37 million to 235 million…

Reply to  Ash
September 11, 2022 9:22 am

And Britain is heading the same way if we let them all in. I suppose the excessive Birth rate is Britains fault as well?

Reply to  allan
September 11, 2022 11:32 am

Yes it will be. White privilege.

Gerry, England
Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
September 12, 2022 6:18 am

Quick! Send them plane loads of the vaxes so they will become sterile.

Awkward Git
September 11, 2022 6:26 am

When I was working in India years ago during the monsoon a railway bridge collapsed with a train going across it.

Reason for the collapse and the deaths?

The British built the bridge in 1862 (or whenever it was).

Nothing to do with the fact that no meaningful maintenance had been done since independence in 1947 apparently.

Gerry, England
Reply to  Awkward Git
September 12, 2022 6:20 am

I guess the meaning of the word ‘independence’ was a mystery to them.

September 11, 2022 6:28 am

Reparations? It worked! It sounds like time for restitution to the Brits.

Tom Halla
September 11, 2022 6:30 am

But none of the politicians knew anyone doing construction who would kick back most of the funding, so it never got maintained?

Richard Page
Reply to  Tom Halla
September 11, 2022 10:37 am

Some maintenance was done in the 1990’s on the gates but I’m not sure there has been much else done.

Reply to  Tom Halla
September 11, 2022 6:29 pm

Odd that Pakistan has the money to build nuclear weapons but the west is supposed to fix their bridges and other crumbling infrastructure, is is not?

September 11, 2022 6:33 am

The simple truth is that almost every modern country which formerly was (for the most part indirectly) ruled by the British, has gone backwards since the end of Empire.

The exceptions eg Singapore, Malaysia, can be counted on the fingers of one hand. India has remained India, always different; always hugely wealthy and successful in its particular way. By Western lights that may sound odd, but there is no denying India “works”.

Empire ended in the 1960s; 1980 if you count Rhodesia transitioning to Zimbabwe. That is 3 generations and more for countries granted independence earlier. A rash in the 1950s and India and Pakistan in 1947.

To suggest any reparation is owed is an insult – both to the British and to the claimants. Especially for nonsense “climate change”….

Reply to  Veritas
September 12, 2022 1:54 am

Pakistan spends a secret but huge percentage of its GDP on its military since 1953. Half of that would have been enough to fix all infrastructure. The generals controlled the politicians till now; lets see of Imran Khan can break that jinx.

Chris Foskett
Reply to  AntonyIndia
September 12, 2022 4:32 am

I doubt he can as he’s been overthrown by parliament

Reply to  Veritas
September 14, 2022 2:30 am

Under Empirical we Brits controlled or guided India with an Indian Civil Service of a few hundreds only.
I’m sure!
But might it gave been better than the alternative, a fragmented India that Clive found?

An alternative history, so we’ll never know.


September 11, 2022 6:36 am

If you need to divert blame its the Climate or the Brits. Take your choice.

Is this dam considered “Racist” in Pakistan? -: or does it point toward what the Pakistani People should have been doing for years.?

Last edited 21 days ago by Alasdair
Reply to  Alasdair
September 11, 2022 10:31 pm

I think that the Brits should pay reparations to the original 13 colonies for all the damages done during the recent unpleasantness.

Chris Foskett
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
September 12, 2022 4:34 am

Traitors! Every last one of them! God save the King!
It’s not too late to come back, marginally better governance in the UK

Richard Page
Reply to  Chris Foskett
September 12, 2022 5:13 am

Speak for yourself. King Charles III isn’t that stupid to take the US back – anyway they’ve got more debt than the UK; they’d just wait until it was all paid off then hold another tea party!

Ron Long
September 11, 2022 6:44 am

If Pakistan collectively believes in the CAGW/Give Me Your Money nonsense, then they should turn to their neighbor. The EU + Britain and the USA reduced their CO2 emissions by 3.5 billion tons in 2021, whereas the combined China + India output increased 7.5 billion tons. Don’t wait for it because the only reality in the CAGW nonsense is wealth redistribution (and India and Pakistan are not the best of friends).

Reply to  Ron Long
September 11, 2022 2:09 pm

Pakistan Believes in Allah and the Q’ran. The Q’ran says it is morally correct to lie to infidels and try to cheat them out of anything you can.
So they do.

Chris Foskett
Reply to  Ron Long
September 12, 2022 4:37 am

Biggest mistake of colonisation was agreeing to partition, should have stuck to one India and ignored the Hindu nationalists, would have saved 4 million lives as well.

September 11, 2022 7:07 am

If Pakistan has the money for a nuclear arsenal, they should be able to handle this.

Reply to  Kevin
September 12, 2022 2:03 am

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto said in 1965 that they (not him!) preferred to eat grass in order to get nukes.
Not dams.

September 11, 2022 7:19 am

China is having a 60 year drought….the Rhine is near record lows…let’s move water from Paki Land to these places and cure it all…we can do this…maybe?

September 11, 2022 7:34 am

I gave this comment with Jim Steele posting but its importance got lost among our readers. The Indus river has a number of man made obstacles starting from the big dams in the upper reaches to irrigation barrages close to the delta.. As of 1980s almost 75 per cent of the flow of the Indus River has been diverted for irrigation. Third, the Indus River flows through some areas of soft geologic deposit that it is noted to moved its course several kilometers in the last 1000 years or so. Aside from those factors that Jim Steele cited, those three factors accounts for the recent flooding. First, the river flow is very low having been diverted in normal times. The channels for high flows are filled and the flood terrace cultivated or inhabited. Ever had a chance as I did of experiencing a sudden thunderstorm in the desert? . Second, the river flows through areas that potentially have high sediment loads caused silting. Third the man made obstacles dams and barrages reduces the water flows in the main channel.. The diversion for irrigation is so high that as I mentioned some friends in Sindh jokes you could practically wade in some section of the Indus delta during the dry months. The river is silted and could not drain the monsoon water. One of the controversial issues that greed has not resolved is the environmental flow in the Indus river as the demand for irrigation water and the economic benefit from the irrigation water outweighs the need for environment flows. Anyway if things gets bad, there is always AGW to blame and hopefully get cash out of it.

Reply to  eo
September 11, 2022 11:34 am

It’ll be the fault of the white British. It always is.

Reply to  eo
September 11, 2022 11:35 am

Good comment. This event, like dozens and dozens of others, always have back stories. The press reflexively blames AGW instead of looking for any facts. With a little research we find a much more complex situation. The history of floods in this flood prone country with its flood prone geomorphology goes back millennia. I don’t know how journalists look themselves in the mirror.

Reply to  cerescokid
September 11, 2022 4:54 pm

This one is by the World Economic Forum. Surely we can trust what they have to say (/sarc).

Phillip Bratby
September 11, 2022 7:37 am

It was not a third of the country that was flooded. It was less than 8%. Even the BBC admits that.

Phillip Bratby
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
September 11, 2022 7:40 am

Correction – the consensus is between 10 and 12%.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
September 11, 2022 9:05 am

Not much of a consensus if it keep changing.

M Courtney
Reply to  Felix
September 11, 2022 9:27 am

What Pakistan meant was that a third of administrative regions have declared a flood emergency. The media then assumed that all of those regions were underwater.
12% is still a terrible tragedy.

Reply to  M Courtney
September 11, 2022 4:57 pm

Depends on what 12%. Some floodplain areas naturally benefit from periodic flooding to maintain soil and fertility. I suspect the areas with heavy damage to human infrastructure are even less than 8%.

Reply to  M Courtney
September 11, 2022 6:46 pm

Our glorious greentard UN leader says it’s all developed nations fault and they need to pay. I wonder if all developed nations paid Pakistan the dues they paid to the UN he might sing another tune.

Craig Howard
Reply to  M Courtney
September 12, 2022 2:56 pm

I saw a post on TikTok with a graphic showing 1/3 of Pakistan submerged. It got millions of views and those millions will forever believe it.

Iain Russell
September 11, 2022 7:50 am

Islamic imperialism and its colonisation of what is now Pakistan have a lot to answer for. Give Pakistan back to its First Peoples! You Muslims go back to your homelands and leave this great land you invaded and despoiled!

September 11, 2022 7:54 am

I’m confused. A 90 year old dam built by the British continues to work effectively; this is “exploitative colonial presence”. Sounds more that a benefit of colonial presence.

Has the government of Pakistan built any effective dams since independence?

Reply to  tgasloli
September 11, 2022 10:43 am

Think you are confused, just think of the morons that brought this up as an issue. They probably don’t know if they’re a man, woman, or one of the other 86 genders.

Oh wait, it was the WEF so it is based on the evil intent to wreck a western government. Never mind.

Reply to  tgasloli
September 11, 2022 11:54 am

Pakistan has built two of the biggest dams in the world — Manila and Tarbela. It has also built numerous smaller dams.

Reply to  Mohatdebos
September 11, 2022 11:56 am

Should be Mangla, not Manila.

dodgy geezer
September 11, 2022 8:24 am

Let’s not be churlish about spreading blame. Surely they can also blame Trump?

Actually, the obvious requirement is to blame those with the ability to pay. So I blame Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett…..

Reply to  dodgy geezer
September 11, 2022 9:13 am

Surely all the corrupt and incompetent Pakistani politicians who pocketed billions of taxpayer money over the years and neglected to arrange the proper maintenance and growth of the water infrastructure and the first ones to blame and to be forced to cough up “reparations”.

JD Lunkerman
Reply to  dodgy geezer
September 11, 2022 10:43 am

Gates and Buffet made a big deal about some pledge they made to give away the bulk of their money. It mainly had to do with todays taxes, but that is not relevant here. Notice they did not pledge 80-90% of their wealth to stop global warming. Watch what they do not what they say.

Gunga Din
Reply to  dodgy geezer
September 11, 2022 4:12 pm

Trump wasn’t born when that dam was built.
Maybe blame Brandon or Pelosi?

Timo, Not That One
Reply to  Gunga Din
September 12, 2022 10:03 am

Brandon was in the Senate for 120 years.

Reply to  dodgy geezer
September 11, 2022 4:59 pm

George Soros, don’t forget.

Jeff Alberts
September 11, 2022 8:40 am

At the link, further down in the story, there is a Twit from someone at the WEF that Pakistan’s inflation is at 27%, and that their debt should be cancelled.

Gee, I wish I could get a bunch of credit cards, buy all kinds of neat stuff, and have all that debt cancelled, so I can do it all over again. What a great way to run an economy.

oebele bruinsma
September 11, 2022 9:18 am

“WEF: Pakistan Climate Change Floods are the British Empire’s Fault?’
OF COURSE, you have to blame someone else.

Philip CM
September 11, 2022 9:56 am

Britain ought to offer to build an entirely new bridge for Pakistan, in exchange for their nukes.

Pakistan, a social victim with nuclear warheads. The new improved ‘peak victim’. 😏

Matthew Schumann
September 11, 2022 9:59 am

How can the British be responsible for it, when it’s not even due to “climate change”.
I hope the British invade and fixes that mess.

September 11, 2022 10:09 am

WEF: Pakistan Climate Change Floods are the British Empire’s Fault?

So, floods in the Somerset levels are the fault of the Roman Empire

Reply to  fretslider
September 11, 2022 10:47 am

Yeah Italy. Pay up!

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  fretslider
September 11, 2022 4:03 pm

Nah, Stonehenge. All that weight titled the island. At least that’s what Hank Johnson told me.

D. J. Hawkins
September 11, 2022 10:09 am

If this “exploitive colonial presence” offends them so greatly, I suggest the British immediately come back and remove any trace of the Sukkur Barrage. That will make it all better.

September 11, 2022 10:14 am

It’s a terrible tragedy for those involved.

Blaming it on the Brits, however, is just an opportunist abrogation of responsibility.

Between 1960 and 2009 the UK gave Pakistan $2.8b in aid.

Between 2014 to 2019, Pakistan was the largest recipient of direct UK foreign development aid. It received approximately £320 million in aid in 2019/20 as part of the Department for International Development‘s programme.

I think we’ve given enough “repatriations”, perhaps it’s time the money was spent wisely.

Stephen Skinner
Reply to  Redge
September 11, 2022 10:45 am

In that case the money needs to be repaid to the UK as they have obviously done nothing to make the lives of Pakistanis better.

Reply to  Redge
September 12, 2022 8:46 am

Formal UK Govt aid is one thing. But it does not take into account the amounts remitted to Pakistan by its nationals in UK, especially the billions from their ‘black economy’, undeclared ‘earnings’ and routine milking of UK social benefits and public aid schemes? Will we ever know what share of the £billions in fraudulent COVID business subsidies ended up in Pakistan?

Stephen Skinner
September 11, 2022 10:26 am

The Romans built lots of roads in Britain but since they left many of these have fallen into disrepair or just disappeared. The Italians need to pay reparations for causing unspecified harms and actual colonial sexist and racist violence with even the absence of where these roads were. In addition there are terrible road accidents on many roads, some not far or near to old Roman roads.

Richard Page
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
September 11, 2022 10:44 am

Time to line up the Italians, French, Danish and Norwegians for reparations over their colonial pasts in the UK. Yeah, right!

Reply to  Richard Page
September 11, 2022 7:43 pm

What have the Romans ever done for us?

Reply to  Stephen Skinner
September 11, 2022 10:54 am

The Romans built roads to accomodate a wagon pulled by 2 horses.
So roads were made to fit 2 horses’ asses and that has been the guiding influence of government since.

James Schrumpf
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
September 11, 2022 2:33 pm

I’m not wholly convinced the modern Italians are related in any way to ancient Romans.

Reply to  James Schrumpf
September 11, 2022 2:48 pm

Genetically inherited guilt. Like Original Sin. Same concept.

Stephen Skinner
Reply to  James Schrumpf
September 11, 2022 3:18 pm

James! Get with the programme!

Last edited 21 days ago by Stephen Skinner
Richard Page
Reply to  James Schrumpf
September 12, 2022 5:19 am

Tell that to the WEF when they tot up how much ‘damage’ the Romans did to various countries!

Richard Page
September 11, 2022 10:29 am

So Pakistan came into existence as part of the ending of British rule, it had no ‘colonial past’ under British rule at all. Perhaps the better option would be for them to take this issue up with India as it was unpartitioned under British rule. Good luck with modern day Pakistan getting anything from modern day India over their shared past!

It doesn't add up...
September 11, 2022 10:37 am

Infamy! Infamy! They’ve got it in for me!

Kenneth Williams in Carry On up the Khyber

dodgy geezer
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
September 11, 2022 1:21 pm

Actually, “Carry On Cleo”….

Richard Page
Reply to  dodgy geezer
September 11, 2022 2:34 pm

And incorrectly quoted as well, I think there was an ‘all’ in there, in the original line!

Peta of Newark
September 11, 2022 10:55 am

Of course it is.
Ageing White (usually single) Males are The Cause of All The World’s Woes

The guys who put together the barrage will be well over a hundred by now but hey ho, whats a decade or two of adjustment between friends?
Especially in the Age Of Climate

Cheshire Red
September 11, 2022 10:57 am

What’s Urdu for get f****d?

Smart Rock
September 11, 2022 11:16 am

Sad to say, but when you build large parts of a country on a flood plain, you have to expect………

dodgy geezer
September 11, 2022 1:13 pm

I tried to understand the argument. It seems to be that IF the dam had broken THEN that would have been colonialism murdering natives, but it didn’t, so instead the oppressed natives are living under the threat of being killed if/when it does break.

And if my uncle had been female he would have been my aunt.

Reply to  dodgy geezer
September 11, 2022 3:25 pm

If they are that worried about it, once the flood waters recede, they should remove it.

Of course, then it will go back to flooding that highly populated region EVERY year.

September 11, 2022 4:49 pm

These writers at WEF are crazy. This entire article is complete loony tunes. I looked up this John Letzing, the prime author, only to see a page of insane rhetoric at the WEF site. On his WEF page is an article entitled Systemic Racism “Why Juneteenth matters everywhere in the world” He doesn’t even know history. Juneteenth is a Texas remembrance of when Union forces arrived in Galveston to announce the 2 1/2 year old Emancipation Proclamation. Texans have recognized this for many decades. Only very recently, the U.S. Congress decided to make it a national holiday (isn’t that what the “woke” call “cultural appropriation?). Other states learned the news at other times. Only Texans historically celebrate Juneteenth, because it memorializes an event that occurred in Texas.

In this article, Letzing talks about U.S. “colonies,” actually territories, where people are U.S. citizens, Puerto Rico in particular, which was for centuries a Spanish colony. When acquired by the U.S. in 1898, a long slow and ragged process of development and increased self-governance began. Most recently, a large Puerto Rican majority voted in favor of statehood in a non-binding referendum. That doesn’t sound like an oppressed colony to most people. In today’s political environment, it just may not warrant statehood. Status quo or independence would appear more appropriate. Likewise, for different reasons, the District of Columbia does not warrant statehood. It is a tiny little federal district designed to just encompass Washington. Our smallest state, Rhode Island, is 1,545 square miles, while D.C. is a measly 100 sq.mi. Any current rumblings about statehood are purely power plays, left-wing Democrats ploys to add extra U.S. senators, who they presume will be Democrats, thus helping to solidify power. Open borders, expand the Supreme Court, eliminate the filibuster, politicizing the FBI and DOJ… the list of leftist power plays goes on.

Reply to  Pflashgordon
September 13, 2022 7:52 am

DC is not even a full 100 sq miles. It started out as a 10 mile by 10 mile square diamond, roughly bisected by the Potomac, half in VA and half in MA. In 1847, the VA side reverted to the state. DC is now under 69 sq miles.

Last edited 19 days ago by John_C
Walter Sobchak
September 11, 2022 6:22 pm

Everybody in the sub-continent, Pakistani, Indian, Bengali, whatever, is always happy to explain to you how every problem was created by the British. Even the caste system, which geneticists have proven goes back 2000 years. It may well be the case that their inability to accept responsibility for their problems is the biggest impediment to solving the. That and Islam.

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
September 13, 2022 8:20 am

Not sure about Hindus and Sikhs, but Islam breeds fatalism, “Inshallah”. If bad things happen (to others!) it was just their fate. No personal agency is required, or accepted. Of course the other (Brits, Chinese, Africans, Iranians, …) are at fault.

September 11, 2022 6:27 pm

Eric’s other recent post on Pakistan is germane to this discussion.

Washington Post: The USA Should Pay for Pakistan’s Climate Floods

Richard Page
Reply to  KcTaza
September 12, 2022 5:25 am

Aha so Pakistan is attempting a bit of double dipping? How very ‘climate scientist’ – like of them.

Tom Abbott
September 12, 2022 12:02 pm

From the article: “When flooding amplified by climate change began to submerge nearly a third of Pakistan recently”

There’s no evidence human-caused climate change is real or that it amplified flooding in Pakistan.

michael hart
September 12, 2022 7:55 pm

Satan wept.

September 13, 2022 7:04 am

This is from 2010 and gives some perspective;

“As torrential rain sweeps in from the Indian Ocean, floods are triggered almost annually. Its floodplain was an early cradle of civilisation 9,000 years ago. Here people first gave up their nomadic ways to farm livestock and cultivate crops.
The Indus Valley is home to 100 million people, who rely on it completely for drinking water and irrigation. Due to population growth, the people are now living in the alluvial flood plains, which used to be left for the river to meander about.
Today the river is changing its course and as it flows down, it engulfs many of the populated areas. 500 km of the river bed’s floodzone is called “kacha”. This is the natural flood plain of the river. However the “kacha area” is inhabited by millions of people and those who live there are poor people who do not have the means to live in safe areas.
Geologist Professor Peter Clift of Aberdeen University, has been precisely dating layers of flood-deposited sand in the Indus floodplain, in order to work out past changes in river flow, with surprising results:
“During a warm period 6,000 years ago, the Indus was a monster river, more powerful and more prone to flooding than today. Then, 4,000 years ago, as the climate cooled, a large part of it simply dried up. Deserts appeared where mighty torrents once flowed.”
The article then asks the question, “But what caused these thousand-year cycles of Indus drought and flood?”
I suspect it wasn’t coal-fired power stations and SUV’s.

Matthew Sykes
September 22, 2022 2:51 am

A third of Pakistan did NOT flood. It is a mountainous country, the water would have to be 500 meters deep to even touch the valley sides.

What happened is a third of the Indus valley flood plain flooded. But these floods benefit the soil, bring new nutrients, guaranteeing future crops.

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