A man looks for salvageable belongings from his flooded home in the Shikarpur district of Sindh Province, Pakistan, Thursday, Sep. 1, 2022. Pakistani health officials on Thursday reported an outbreak of waterborne diseases in areas hit by recent record-breaking flooding, as authorities stepped up efforts to ensure the provision of clean drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people who lost their homes in the disaster. Credit: Fareed Khan / AP

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The impacts of climate change are already hitting home. Maine communities have seen rising sea levels, warming ocean waters, shifting growing seasons for crops, and more inconsistent winters, just to name a few.

None of that compares to the devastation being experienced in Pakistan right now. Entire villages have been washed away by flooding. Buildings have crumbled. Crops have been destroyed. Families have been displaced and lives have been shattered.

It is important to acknowledge the local challenges of warming temperatures and rising seas, and to plan accordingly with both mitigation and adaptation strategies here at home. But the flooding in Pakistan, and the more than 1,000 lives it has taken since mid June, is a horrific reminder of the global nature of climate change and the need for global action to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are at the moment at the ground zero of the front line of extreme weather events, in an unrelenting cascade of heatwaves, forest fires, flash floods, multiple glacial lake outbursts, flood events and now the monster monsoon of the decade is wreaking non-stop havoc throughout the country,” top Pakistani climate official Sherry Rehman said recently.

Climate impacts don’t happen in a vacuum. Policy choices (and failures) across the world have converged to bring us to this point of record temperatures, melting glaciers, rising seas, drought and increased extreme weather events.

The choices we make here ultimately affect the rest of the world, and vice versa. Pakistan is not a significant emitter of greenhouse gasses, but that didn’t stop its glaciers from melting at an alarming rate and the rushing floods from wreaking havoc. As the “tailpipe of the nation,” Maine still gets pollution from other states regardless of our own emissions and regulations. These realities once again point to the need for strong climate policy to transcend borders.

It might seem ironic to some that climate change is simultaneously fueling drought and wildfires in some parts of the world while pummeling other areas with torrential rain and flooding. But without a course correct from humanity in terms of how we generate our power and the carbon we release into the atmosphere, it is exactly what is to be expected.

These mounting catastrophes must be met with good policy, and also with goodwill. Individuals can make a big difference by supporting people struggling in Pakistan right now. BDN environmental reporter and Report for America corps member Mehr Sher, who spent six years reporting in Pakistan, recently highlighted the impact donations can have in this situation.

“1/3 of  Pakistan is currently underwater. In a country where nearly 40% are below the poverty line and the currency is at an all time low with soaring food costs, any and all donations coming in through trusted organizations will make a difference,” Sher explained Tuesday on Twitter. “Most of those affected are people who make less than $1-3 a day. No matter how small of a donation you are able to contribute, it will help. Please do your research before you donate. There is a lot of information on social media for trusted organizations/individuals providing relief.”

PBS has compiled a list of ways to help and places to donate, such as UNICEF and the Pakistan Red Crescent Society.

Aid from other countries, and not just individuals, can and must also make a difference. For example, the U.S. Agency for International Development announced $30 million in aid for Pakistan on Tuesday. For all the lamenting about the decline of American greatness and exceptionalism we hear these days, no one should forget: Exceptional nations lead by example, and that can be no different when it comes to climate change and helping other countries in need.

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Opinion Editor Susan Young, Deputy Opinion Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked for the BDN...