Karachi’s Stinky Situation: Explained

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Is there a whiff of something funky in the air, or are our senses playing with us? And is it related to the chatter about Tropical Cyclone Biparjoy? If you too are spiraling trying to rationalize these exact thoughts, you’ve come to the right place for answers. We’re here to unravel this mystery and set your mind at ease.

It’s safe to say we weren’t the only ones left in distress. The netizens confirmed there was indeed something fishy in the air — and their humorous take on the situation left us in fits! 

What We Know:

Before we get to the facts, let’s see what the word on the street has been. Some think it is due to the “rising sea levels”, others believe “the dead fish are coming to the shore” like in Texas, US, while the majority thinks it is “definitely the cyclone”. There have been multiple takes on the description of the smell; some have compared it to a “rotten egg” while the others think it literally smells like “dead fish”. 

General SM Qaisar Sajjad noted that Karachi had turned out to be the world’s fourth largest air polluting city. “Air pollution is a slow poison and can even take life in severe conditions,” he said. 

However, this isn’t the first time this peculiar smell has paid us a visit. According to past research, experts believe the dying Phytoplankton are toying with our senses — more on this later but for now can someone pass the air freshener please?!

What History Says:

Tropical cyclones, also known as hurricanes or typhoons, can sometimes have an impact on air quality. The strong winds associated with these weather systems can churn up ocean waters, leading to an increase in the release of gasses and organic matter from the sea. This can result in a noticeable smell in coastal areas. A common phenomenon, either during the pre-monsoon, post-monsoon season or when there are predictions for a cyclone to hit the coastal area. 

The Experts’ Take:

According to the World Wide Fund (WWF) Pakistan adviser Mohammad Moazzam Khan the stench emanates from the rotting of a Phytoplankton plant that washes ashore at the end of the monsoon season. “These plants often change the colour of the sea and turn it green,” said Khan, adding that these plants can be poisonous and often lead to an increased mortality rate in marine life. Noctiluca Scintillans, also known as Sea Sparkle is part of the Phytoplankton group that comes to the shore and dies. When they rot onshore, it emits a foul smell for a few hours, which may even last for a couple of days.

Our beloved city’s air has transformed into a pungent cocktail of pollutants, a potent reminder of the urgent need for environmental action. 

To Sum It Up: 

There’s no need to panic. The smell may be unpleasant, but fret not, it means no harm. Like clockwork, it’s bound to fade away soon, just like it did before. But let’s face the cold, hard truth here: Karachi is slowly morphing into an undesirable dungeon. The foul odors lingering in the air are more than just a nuisance — they’re a serious threat to our quality of life and even public wellbeing. Prolonged exposure to these stinky scents can have consequences. It’s high time we burst that bubble and tackle this issue head-on and take climate change seriously.

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